Vikram Lander: The 15 terrifying minutes

"It is going to be 15 terrifying minutes", said K Sivan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) speaking about Vikram, India's Moon lander's operations. Sivan's words turned true, on Saturday, towards the end of Vikram's landing process after it tumbled and regained its posture and then lost its communication links with ISRO.

This screen grab taken from a live webcast by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday, September 6 shows Vikram Lander before it was supposed to land on the Moon

Announcing loss of the communication link, Sivan said that the performance of the lander was as per the plan till it was at an altitude of 2.1 km from the moon surface.

The communication link got snapped after that, he added. All was going well with the 1,471 kg Vikram that began its descent at 1.38 am from an altitude of 30 km at a velocity of 1,680 metres per second. The lander was smoothly coming down with ISRO officials applauding and their faces beaming with pride.

ISRO employees minutes before communication was lost on Saturday. Pic/AFP

The lander successfully completed its rough braking phase with its descent speed going down well. It was then observed that the communication was lost, throwing a pall of gloom at the ISRO centre where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present. Meanwhile, the 2,379 kg Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to fly around the moon. Its mission life is one year.

I am with you: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told ISRO scientists not to lose confidence. Interacting with the gloomy-faced scientists at the control room of the ISTRAC, the Prime Minister said: "Whatever you have done till now is no mean feat." "The nation is proud of you. You all have served the nation and done a great service to science and mankind," he said, patting Sivan on the back.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi consoles ISRO chief K Sivan as he got emotional

Rahul, Sonia hail ISROSonia Gandhi said in a statement, "We owe a great debt to ISRO and the brilliant men and women who staff it." Hailing the work of the ISRO scientists, she said: "Chandrayaan 2's journey may take us slightly longer but ISRO's history is replete with examples of their determination in the face of hopeless odds."

Rahul Gandhi, too, said their passion and dedication is an inspiration to every Indian and their work is not in vain, rather it has laid the foundation for many more path-breaking Indian space missions.

'The best yet to come'The sports fraternity on Saturday came together to salute the spirit of ISRO. "It's only a failure if we don't learn from our setbacks. We will come back stronger! I salute the great spirit of team ISRO for making a billion Indians dream together, as one. The best is definitely yet to come," said cricketer-turned politician Gautam Gambhir on Twitter.

K Sivan—The Rocket Man Of India

1982Kailasavadivoo Sivan joined ISRO in 1982, and has been a part of many projects including the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle project. During his three-decade long career, Sivan has been a part of many prestigious missions including GSLV, PSLV, GSLV MkIII, apart from being a project director of GSLV rocket.

95%The Chandrayaan-2 mission, apart from the landing glitch, has been carried out perfectly and will help India collect heaps of data on the moon. Around 95 per cent of mission has been successfully carried out under Sivan's leadership.

2018Sivan, a 62-year-old rocket scientist from Tamil Nadu, became the ninth chief of ISRO in January 2018 after taking over from AS Kiran Kumar. Born to a farmer in Tarakkanvillai village in Kanyakumari district, Sivan studied in a local government school. Sivan, who is known for his contribution in the development of cryogenic engines, was earlier the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre. Sivan's uncle, A Shanmugavel, said the Rocket Man was the first graduate in the family and that he is a self-made man. Sivan never went to any tuition or coaching classes. He graduated from ST Hindu College in Nagercoil.

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