India may abandon moon mission after radio link snaps

Bangalore, Aug 29 ( India may have to abandon its first unmanned lunar mission after the spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 abruptly lost radio contact with its ground station here early Saturday.

“We have lost the communication link with the spacecraft in the wee hours (01:30 IST) of Saturday. Attempts to re-establish contact have been futile. The mission is as good as lost,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told Inditop here.

Scientists at the space agency’s Deep Space Network (DSN) in Byalalu, about 40 km from this tech hub, said the radio contact through C-band, Ku-band and other bands was lost due to a sudden failure of communication systems in the spacecraft.

“The antenna on board Chandrayaan has stopped working. There is no fallback or redundancy for restoring the contact,” Satish pointed out.

“We may have to abandon the spacecraft if we are not able to establish radio contact with it again. It will continue to orbit around the moon 200 km away. If not controlled, it may crash after sometime on the lunar surface,” Satish said.

Scientists are analysing the data to check the health of the spacecraft systems.

“Communication with the 520 kg spacecraft has been lost. With the result, we are unable to send commands or receive data. The development has seriously hampered communication between the DSN and the spacecraft,” Satish admitted.

The last time DSN received the data from the lunarcraft was at 00:25 IST Saturday.

At 200 km from the lunar surface, Chandrayaan orbits the moon every 100 minutes.

Chandrayaan was launched Oct 22, 2008 from India’s only spaceport Sriharikota, about 90km from north-east of Chennai, on board the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV).