India locates missing Moon lander

Above, the Vikram Lander before it was supposed to land on the moon in this on August 6, 2019 file photo. (Indian Space Research Organisation/AFP)
Updated 10 September 2019

India locates missing Moon lander

  • The lander, called Vikram, was due to touch down on the Moon in the early hours of Saturday, but contact was lost around 2.1 kilometers above the surface
  • India is also preparing Gaganyaan, its first manned space mission, and wants to land a probe on Mars

NEW DELHI: Indian space scientists were desperately trying Tuesday to establish communication with their broken Moon lander, having located the probe that went silent moments before it was due to make a historic soft landing.
The lander, called Vikram — after the founder of India’s space program — was due to touch down on the Moon in the early hours of Saturday, but contact was lost around 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles) above the surface.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) tweeted an update on its Chandrayaan-2 (“Moon Vehicle 2“) mission, which blasted off in July with India hoping to become just the fourth country to make a successful soft lunar landing.
“#VikramLander has been located by the orbiter of #Chandrayaan2, but no communication with it yet. All possible efforts are being made to establish communication with lander,” the space agency said.
The emerging Asian giant’s most complex space mission, carrying an orbiter, lander and rover, was almost entirely designed and made in India — and cost a relatively modest $140 million.
Indian media reports have said that the lander suffered a “hard landing,” possibly damaging it and the rover inside.
The Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported on Monday that the lander was unbroken but was lying tilted on the lunar surface, and that the chances of restoring communication were low.
“Unless and until everything is intact, it’s very difficult (to re-establish contact),” PTI quoted an unnamed ISRO official as saying.
“Only if it had a soft landing, and if all systems functioned, could communication can be restored. Things are bleak,” the official said.
The ISRO was not immediately available to comment on the claims.
Only the United States, Russia and New Delhi’s regional rival China have made a successful soft landing on the Moon, and India had hoped to be the first on the lunar South Pole.
According to the ISRO, the orbiter will continue to circle the Moon for almost seven years, providing “high resolution images which will be immensely useful to the global scientific community.”
India is also preparing Gaganyaan, its first manned space mission, and wants to land a probe on Mars.
In 2014, it became only the fourth nation to put a satellite into orbit around the Red Planet, and in 2017 India’s space agency launched 104 satellites in a single mission.
In March India shot down a low-orbiting satellite, prompting criticism for creating “space junk” that could damage the International Space Station, something rejected by New Delhi.


Fire at sawmill in Siberian village kills 11

Updated 21 January 2020

Fire at sawmill in Siberian village kills 11

  • Ten victims were identified as Uzbek nationals and one as a Tajik
  • The fire broke out in a single-story wooden building rented by an unnamed Chinese company and used as a dormitory for the sawmill workers

Moscow: A fire at a sawmill in a village in Russia’s Siberia killed 11 people and injured two more on Tuesday morning, emergency officials said. One person remains unaccounted-for.

Ten victims were identified as Uzbek nationals and one as a Tajik.

The fire broke out in a single-story wooden building rented by an unnamed Chinese company and used as a dormitory for the sawmill workers. It was most likely sparked by a malfunctioning electric heater, local authorities said. Firefighters battled the blaze for more than two hours.

A total of 14 people — Uzbek, Tajik and Chinese nationals — lived in the building, in the Tomsk region. Two workers were able to get out but sustained injuries. The fate of the final occupant is unknown.

Russian police have opened a criminal probe.

Uzbek officials said they were working on identifying the bodies and transporting them back to Uzbekistan.

Earlier this month a fire at a greenhouse farm in a Moscow suburb killed eight migrant workers from Vietnam.