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Home / Science / Vikram's quiet because it can not talk! But Isro?

Vikram's quiet because it can not talk! But Isro?



The Indian Space Research Organization (Isro), easily India's flag-bearer of research and cutting edge technologies, has not had a dearth of two things: Success, and goodwill.

The goodwill it receives comes from all The successful missions has been completed in the past 50 years – Isro was formed on August 15, 1969 – that have benefitted crores of Indians. Isher has touched everybody's lives through its programs.

But, the goodwill is not restricted to success alone. Chandrayaan-2 lander, Vikram, on the lunar surface. India has stood by isro during many difficult times too, and there was no better display of this support than last week when it was made on an unsuccessful attempt at soft landing.

As it tries to understand what's wrong with Vikram-it should be now-which remains quiet since its pre-planned trajectory and hard landed on the moon in the small hours of September 7, details about everything from the agency continue to optional.

Isro is as quiet as Vikram, but its behavior is less acceptable.

Of course, its chairman, K Sivan, has spoken out. He has made speeches on multiple TV channels, beginning with the government-controlled Doordarshan. So he has spoken with me twice in the past week, but I've called him 32 times for this. Other reporters I have had a similar experience.

The media understands Sivan is a busy person, and that he does respond when he has time. But those who are left with no choice but to focus on those other things are in a hurry.

He would not likely get so many phone calls from journalists if the space agency's communications team converses with the media, or even puts them out with adequate information for the public at large. But that has not been the case in the past few months.

So far, other than Sivan's statements ̵

1; which have been long when he spoke of the orbiter on Chandrayaan-2 but short and evasive on questions about Vikram and its health – there have only been two specific official releases about Vikram.

Both of these releases together have 64 words, and Isro has not been forthcoming with information. Here are the two official statements issued by Isro's communications team,

The first one, dated September 7, 2019, reads, "This is Mission Control Center. Vikram Lander descent what as planned and normal performance was observed at altitude of 2.1 km. Communication from land to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analyzed. "This is 37 words.

The second one, dated September 10, 2019, reads," Vikram lander has been located by the orbiter of Chandrayaan-2, but no communication with it yet. This is 27 words.

There is a third official release issued by the communications team dated September 7. This 288-word release speaks about how complex the Chandrayaan-2 mission which, why the orbiter is a crucial part of the mission and how it makes its mission more than 95% successful. All of this has been repeated by Sivan.

A week has now passed since the unsuccessful attempt to make soft-land, and communication continues to be elusive. "It is ironic that an organization has managed to connect to an entire subcontinent, by taking communication technology to them, is so unsuccessful at communicating with the masses when one thing goes wrong."

There is no doubt that Chandrayaan-2 was a complex mission, and that Isro needs to take pride in having put on orbit around Moon with scientific instrument more sophisticated than it had on Chandrayaan-1, to orbiter mission to Moon, and India's first attempt at that.

But it is also fact that India has learned how to put it to orbit into the lunar orbit more than a decade ago. The highlight of Chandrayaan-2, which is an attempt on soft-land to test on Moon and then roll out a rover that would be conduct experiments, has not been achieved.

any knowledge about technology. For Isro, even the average Indian has understood that the margin for error in space science is almost zero and has been left by the space agency.

So it may not be so bad for Isro to come out with what happened, after all. Vikram to change trajectory and crash, but it certainly, by now, what happened and at which moment. And, is it too much to expect a word to fill the void? No.

DISCLAIMER: Views expressed above are the author's own.


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