A last-minute software glitch led to the failure of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. Vikram Lander crash-landed on the moon’s surface after its guidance software went kaput, according to an internal report presented to the Space Commission.
The Indian Space Research Organisaiton (ISRO) designed Chandrayaan 2 to soft-land a probe on the moon, but the Vikram Lander lost control 500m short of the lunar surface and crashed. Efforts are on to locate the lander that was supposed to analyse the moon’s terrain and send back data for 14 days. The glitch was unexpected since the software was functioning well throughout the trial period.
The Vikram Lander successfully glided from a height of 30 kilometres to 5 kilometres. After this “rough braking,” the lander experienced trouble during the “fine braking,” the final stage in which the lander operated only one of its thrusters and slowed down to just 146m per second. The lander veered off its trajectory and crashed 750m away from the intended landing spot. The impact of the crash damaged the machinery on board and the lander went incommunicado.
ISRO’s internal committee, led by Liquid Propulsion System Centre director V. Narayanan, examined the moon’s surface. The committee was also supplied information from space agencies such as NASA. The ISRO has put in place a mission to rectify the mistakes and relaunch Chandrayaan 2 next November. The agency will build a new lander and rover, which will be linked to the Orbiter that is rotating around the moon.