Chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Kailasavadivoo Sivan said it was a "big relief" when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged him after the space agency lost contact with the Chandrayaan 2 moon mission's Vikram lander in September 2019.
“When I was emotional, the honorable prime minister hugged me... The hug taught me many lessons. It was great thing that the prime minister himself consoled me. That gave us a big relief.”K Sivan, ISRO chief, in an interview with NDTV
“That gave us another ambition for us that we should do more. That is the feeling I had. We are working with more vigor than we had to achieve more and more in the space system,” Sivan added in an interview with NDTV.
The ISRO chief was visibly upset when, during the last stages of an otherwise successful mission, the lander – which carried the rover, Pragyan – stopped responding. Video footage showed PM Modi hugging him as he broke down.
The lander’s remnants were found 21 later, scattered on the surface of the moon.
Design Phase Of Gaganyaan Complete, 4 IAF Pilots Selected
The design phase of Gaganyaan, the space mission which aims to send Indians to space by 2022, has been completed, the ISRO chairperson told NDTV. He added that four pilots of the Indian Air Force have been selected for training as crew.
The identities of the pilots remain undisclosed.
Sivan said that ISRO has a strong list of candidates for the mission, should a problem arise with the top four.
The overall configuration of GSLV-MK III rocket, crew escape system, crew module and service module for Gaganyaan have been finalised, an ISRO official told PTI.
The Gaganyaan programme aims to demonstrate human space flight capability with three crew members for five to seven days in Low Earth Orbit (2,000 km above the surface) and safely recover them after the mission. The launch is expected to take place next year.
Chandrayaan 2's Vikram lander hard-landed as reduction in velocity during its descent did not go as expected, dashing ISRO’s hopes of making a soft landing on the lunar surface in its maiden attempt – a feat no nation has accomplished.
Sivan on Wednesday, 1 January, said that government has approved Chandrayaan 3, India’s second attempt to land on the lunar surface, and the project is ongoing.
(With inputs from NDTV and PTI)