Stay steady, our best yet to come: Modi to ISRO scientists

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Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday addressed the scientists of ISRO, hours after the much-anticipated Vikram lander lost signal moments before its moon landing. Boosting the morale of Team Chandrayaan-2, he inspired them to march on, saying: “You came as close as you could. Stay steady and look ahead.”

He said every person was aware of the amount of disappointment they were feeling following the setback. Modi said if a poet was to write about this, he would mention: “Chandrayaan rushed towards Chandra Maa to hug her…” which drew a loud applause from the audience.

Addressing the scientists as “exceptional professionals” whom the nation and the world at large stands by, Modi said: “True to your nature you ventured into a a place where no one has gone before.

“To our scientists, I want to say ‘India is with you’. You are exceptional professionals who have made an incredible contribution to the nation’s progress. You have given your best always, and will give us several more opportunities to smile about,” Modi said.

“Our determination to get closer to Moon today, has just got stronger,” the Prime Minister said.

Modi said the entire nation was awake in solidarity because the scientists had embarked on one of the most ambitious missions of the space programme. “We came very close but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come”, he said.

“Every Indian is filled with pride as well as confidence. We are proud of our space programme and scientists… their hard work and determination,” he added.

“Resilience and tenacity are central to India’s ethos. In our glorious history of thousands of years, we have bounced back again and again and gone on to do spectacular things. This is the why our civilization stands tall,” Modi said.

“When it comes to our space programmes, the best is yet to come,” again drawing a loud applause.

Modi said there are new frontiers to discover and new places to go. “We will rise to the occasion and scale new heights of success.”

He once again reiterated the pride the nation felt at Indian Space Research Organisation’s ambitious attempt to make the Chandrayaan-2 mission a success.

Following the Rs 978-crore-rupees Chandrayaan-2 mission’s apparent temporary setback with the Vikram lander losing communication minutes before touching down on the lunar surface, Modi said: “I could read your disappointment when you lost signal with the lander.”

Modi, who was present at the ISTRAC here in the early hours of Saturday, interacted with the ISRO scientists after the mood in the control room became all gloomy as soon as signals stopped arriving from Vikram.

Patting Sivan’s back, the Prime Minister said: “Whatever you all have done today is no mean feat. I am with you. Be courageous.”

Communication with moon lander Vikram was lost as it was descending towards the Moon earlier in the day. The link was lost as the lander was at an altitude of 2.1 km over the moon’s South Pole where it was due to land, Sivan said. The 2,379-kg Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, however, continues to fly around the Moon.

Space enthusiasts and researchers from around the world on Saturday lauded the commendable effort of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its more than 16,000 scientists in having almost achieved India’s moon mission.

“Just a reminder to folks that on its way to putting this lander down, India did successfully put its second spacecraft in orbit at the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 orbiter will be up there doing science for a year. Lander would only have lasted 2 weeks,” posted Emily Lakdawalla, a planetary evangelist and scientist.

Chris G-NSF, who writes for NASASpaceflight, said: “If Vikram failed to land – which it looks like – REMEMBER the ORBITER is where 95% of the experiments are. The Orbiter is safely in Lunar orbit and performing its mission. This is not a total failure. Not at all.”

“Awesome to see so many women in mission control!” posted Dr Tanya Harrison, Director of Research at Arizona State University’s Space Technology and Science Initiative and part of Mars’ Opportunity rover team.

The Australian Space Agency tweeted: “The #VikramLander was just a few kms short of realising its mission to the Moon. To the team at @isro, we applaud your efforts and the commitment to continue our journey into space.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos had earlier posted: “Rooting for team India. Good luck, India!”

Vikram had successfully completed its rough braking phase and was descending well at its planned speed when the lander slightly deflected from its set trajectory and suddenly the link got snapped.

Witnessing the unexpected development on the screen, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan broke down but Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged him, and praised and encouraged the team’s effort. Appreciating the gesture, Daniel Carmon, former Israeli envoy to India tweeted: “What a moment! What a gesture!”

(Agencies)