On the night of September 6, 2019 and during the wee hours of September 7, 2019, almost the entire nation was glued to their TV sets. We were all waiting to witness history being made as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) attempted to land the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2 along with the Pragyaan Rover on the South Pole of the Moon. It would have been the first time any country would have landed on that region on the Moon and before that, India was the first country to confirm the presence of water in that region on the Moon with Chandrayaan-1.
Somewhere around 1:45 am to 1:50 am on September 7, the Vikram Lander began its descent with successful rough breaking and fine breaking. But around 1:55 am when we were all waiting for a successful landing confirmation, the situation changed and the ISRO Control Room went from jubilant to silent all of a sudden.
Shortly after that, ISRO Chief Dr K Sivan announced, “Vikram Lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, communication from lander to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analyzed.” The tension was visible on everyone’s faces who were present at the ISRO Control Room.
In the morning, I woke up to a video of Dr K Sivan who broke down and was being consoled by the Prime Minister. It was a heartbreaking visual that made all of us realise that even the best of us face roadblocks in the path to making history. But at the same time, we need to know that such roadblocks or hurdles are a part of achieving something big, and we should never back down. With this extraordinary effort made by ISRO, they have not only made India proud but they have also inspired thousands of children and youth to take up astrophysics and space research.
I am writing this exactly 24 hours after the attempted landing by Vikram Lander on the Moon, and over these past 24 hours, there have been many thoughts in my head about the Chandrayaan-2 mission and other missions by ISRO. So, I ended up writing a few lines just to let Dr Sivan and all the brilliant scientists at ISRO that we are all very proud of them.
(We are here and so is the moon, if not today, then tomorrow it shall be. Small challenges cannot stop us. We will conquer not only the Moon but also the entire universe because we are not going to stop.)
We love you 3,94,400.