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Chandrayaan 2 Landing | Dawn of a New Space Era in India
Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander attempted to land on the moon in the early hours of 7th Sep'19. Learn how students of IIT Bombay witnessed this historical event.
A nation of 7 billion citizens was awake at the stroke of the midnight to watch a historical event. It was not a cricket match hosted in another country. Nor was it some award or reality show finale. It was us as a country trying to reach the Moon. Chandrayaan 2 is one of the most well-known missions of ISRO. Delayed for a long time, it was finally launched on 22nd July 2019. On 20th August, the spacecraft assembly of the orbiter and lander Vikram reached the lunar orbit. Now, the next most important milestone was the landing of Vikram lander along with the Pragyan rover in the night of 6th September 2019. Along with each and every Indian, the whole planned to follow this event: The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram Lander Landing.
The Successor to Chandrayaan 1
Lead up to the big event...
Chandrayaan 2 was the successor to the successful Chandrayaan 1 mission which was instrumental in discovering water on the Moon. While India had already put its flag on the Moon with the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) in the first mission, Vikram Lander was special. It was ISRO's first attempt to soft-land on an extraterrestrial surface. Not only that, but we were also going closest to the lunar south pole as compared to all previous lunar missions. Therefore, it was only right that ISRO publicised the mission.
We had numerous social media posts and a brand new colourful webpage for the mission. Even in terms of public relations, ISRO decided to take up new things. Animation videos were made for the mission. And they were quite good for a change. So good, that watching them even today gives me goosebumps (watch it yourself and experience). They even opened their doors for private press houses to be present during the live screening of landing. Everything was set for a dramatic evening/night.
Chandrayaan 2 Moon Landing Screening
Event planned at IIT Bombay...
At my end, I planned to have screening scheduled with the help of Aerospace Engineering Association and IIT Bombay Student Satellite Program. The then Department General Secretory booked the seminar hall for the screening, and we made a poster to share. We, at the satellite team, booked a classroom for the team to sit together and watch Vikram Landing on the Moon. We were all set to welcome about 50-60 students and 40 students of the team. And then came the day of Moon Landing.
There were hours until the event would start, and we started receiving calls from Alumni and Professors who wanted to come to the screening with their children. This was our first hint, and we decided to book another classroom just in case. At around 11:30, students started to trickle in. By midnight, the seminar hall was full. Within the next few minutes, both the classrooms filled as well. But students and professors kept coming. We arranged for students to sit in aisles and free floor spaces. Enthusiasts were standing at the end and door. To say, we had a full house would be an understatement.
The crowd made a great environment. They would applause during each of the successive phases of landing. It was all going smoothly. The final descent had started, and all the three rooms were absolutely silent with anticipation. And that silence got extended to more than 30 minutes. Suddenly, in the last 10 seconds of the descent, ISRO lost communication with the lander. The live stream was still ongoing, and everyone present remained in their seats awaiting some good news. It was not until the live stream ended, and people started leaving.
It was indeed an out of the world experience to witness a collective expectation of hundreds of people waiting for some news. The tension in the room was no less than Dhoni batting in the final overs trying to win a world cup match. While Vikram Lander failed to land and we never got to hear from the Pragyan rover. They both accomplished something even more prominent (arguably). They brought the whole nation together. 7th September saw social media flooded with appreciative and supportive posts for ISRO and Dr K Sivan. Even Google Trends shows unprecedented growth of ISRO and Chandrayaan 2 searches.
A new era of space science and technology dawned on India. Now, every Indian is awaiting the Gaganyaan, SSLV, Chandrayaan 3 and other exciting ISRO missions. This newfound interest in space science also motivated me towards starting this blog, and now I have come a long way. All thanks to Chandrayaan 2, Vikram Lander and Pragyan Rover. Not to forget all my readers. Keep looking for aerospace missions and be proud of the Aerospace Nerd in you!