Moon landing scare

Abortive yet courageous attempt

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India the other day made an attempt at becoming only the fourth country in the world – after the United States, Russia and China – to reach the Moon. Just 2.1 kilometre away from the touchdown they lost touch with the lander. On Sunday, however, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that it had found Vikram on the lunar surface and pictures of the lander were captured by Chandrayaan-2 orbiter which is orbiting the Moon and that now the ground station is working to establish contact.

In a video, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi can be seen anxiously waiting for the announcement to come of successful landing. Soon everybody was seen puzzled, dropped jaws, eyes wide open on the verge of breaking into tears. The PM Modi consoled the ISRO chief by hugging and patting him on the back. He later in a speech said that this was not a small achievement for their country.

The reaction to this spectacular failure from Pakistan ranged from interesting to weird. Soon after the news broke, Pakistan’s science and technology minister trolled India for punching above its weight. To which some Pakistanis on social media tried to draw his attention towards the BRT project in Peshawar. The intent was to highlight that we who have no space programme to boot and are not able to get through with a simple infrastructure project should not be commenting on an ambitious attempt by our neighbour. In a later tweet he however raised a nuanced and debatable point. “Endia is adding into space debris, ealrier “Mission Shakti” failed and now “Chandrayaan”, irresponsible attitude of #ModiSarkar from region to space is disastrous for the world, Galaxyies and the planet is a delicate business politicians must not be allowed to play foolish gimmicky,” he said on Twitter.

Dr Adil Najam called it a loss for science. Namira Salim, Pakistan’s first female astronaut, congratulated the ISRO on the Chandrayaan-2 mission and its attempt to make a landing on the Moon. “The Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission is indeed a giant leap for South Asia which not only makes the region but the entire global space industry proud. If nothing else, this attempt by India should ruffle some feathers here. Fawad should announce to expedite his Moon mission and try and do it before India makes another such attempt.