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India Loses Contact With Lander On Final Descent

Popular Mechanics logo Popular Mechanics 9/6/2019 Jennifer Leman
a crane over a city: Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander is slated to land on the moon’s South Pole on September 6, 2019 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Here's how to watch it live. © Indian Space Research Organization Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander is slated to land on the moon’s South Pole on September 6, 2019 between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. EST. Here's how to watch it live.

Update 5:23 p.m. : Indian Space Research Organization lost contact with the Vikram lander during its final descent toward the moon. The agency has not yet issued an official statement on the status of the mission. In April, Israel's SpaceIL lost its lunar lander, Beresheet, just before it was scheduled to land on the moon.

India's Press Information Bureau tweeted this statement at 5:01 p.m. EST:

Original article: Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander is headed to the moon today. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is scheduled to begin the long-awaited touchdown procedures today at 4 p.m. ET. The landing window is expected to last an hour.

Vikram will attempt to land in a currently unnamed plateau nestled between the Manzinus C and Simpelius N craters near the moon’s South Pole. All previous spacecraft that have safely landed on the moon touched down near the equator. ISRO chose the spot after Chandrayaan-1 discovered evidence of frozen water in the region.

Other space agencies are keeping a close eye on the region. NASA plans to send a crewed mission to the Moon’s South Pole by 2024. China, meanwhile, plopped its Chang’e 4 lander down on the far side of the Moon in January and hopes to build a base there within 10 years, according to the Washington Post.

It’s been a difficult ride for ISRO. In 2008, the agency crash landed an impact probe sent by Chandrayaan-1 on the surface of the moon. This recent mission has been plagued with setbacks and delays. It was originally set to launch in Fall 2018, but changes to the design and payload spurred delays that pushed lift off back to January 2019. More design delays and technical snags pushed the date back even further. The rocket and orbiter finally launched on July 22, 2019.

Here’s hoping Vikram safely reaches the moon’s South Pole.

How to Watch India's Moon Landing

ISRO will be streaming live from Bengaluru in the video below. The feed goes live at 3 p.m. ET.

Replay Video

National Geographic also plans to livestream the landing in the video below, and has invited astronaut Jerry Linenger to narrate the touchdown. Streaming starts at 2 p.m. ET.

Replay Video
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