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India finds Vikram lander lost on final approach to moon

NEW DELHI: The lander module from India’s moon mission was finally found on the lunar surface on Sunday (Sept 8), a day after it had lost contact with the space station, head of the nation’s space agency said.

According to the Press Trust of India news agency, Indian Space and Research Organization chairman K. Sivan said that the cameras from the mission’s orbiter had spotted the lander.

“It must have been a hard landing,” Sivan said.

It was reported that the successful landing would have made India the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and only the third to operate a robotic rover there.

On Saturday (Sept. 7), the space agency said that the lander’s descent was normal until 2km from the lunar surface.

The mission known as Chandrayaan-2, which is worth around US$140mil (RM585mil), was intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.

It was recorded on July 22 that the latest mission was lifted off from the Satish Dhawan space centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrayaan-2 spent several weeks making its way towards the moon, ultimately entering lunar orbit on Aug 20.

Until on Sept 2, the Vikram lander separated from the mission’s orbiter and began a series of braking maneuvers to lower its orbit to prepare itself for landing. There are only three nations who have landed a spacecraft successfully on the moon – the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

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