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.


Bryant’s widow sues helicopter company over fatal crash

Updated 24 February 2020

Bryant’s widow sues helicopter company over fatal crash

  • The suit was filed on the same day that Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven crash victims were memorialized in a public ceremony at the Staples Center
  • The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp. and the estate of the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, who was among the victims

LOS ANGELES: Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa filed a lawsuit on Monday against the operators of the helicopter that crashed on January 26, killing the NBA icon and eight others.
The suit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on the same day that Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and the other seven crash victims were memorialized in a public ceremony at the Staples Center.
The lawsuit names Island Express Helicopters, Island Express Holding Corp. and the estate of the helicopter’s pilot, Ara Zobayan, who was among the victims.
Gianna Bryant’s basketball teammates Alyssa Altobelli and Payton Chester, Altobelli’s parents John and Keri, Payton’s mother Sarah and basketball coach Christina Mauser were also killed.
The National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the exact cause of the crash, although preliminary findings showed no sign of mechanical failure.
Monday’s lawsuit faults the company for allowing the helicopter to fly in “heavy fog and low clouds” that Sunday morning, conditions which prompted “law enforcement agencies and tour companies” to ground their helicopters.
“On information and belief, Island Express Helicopters Federal Aviation Administration operating certificate limited its pilots to flying only under visual flight rules,” the lawsuit says.
“The subject helicopter was not licensed or certified to be flown into instrument conditions. On information and belief, the pilot-in-command, Ara George Zobayan, was required to fly only in conditions that he could navigate visually.
“Ara George Zobayan attempted to maneuver the helicopter up and forward to clear the clouds, then entered a turn sending the helicopter into steep terrain at approximately 180 mph,” according to the suit. “Witnesses on the ground reported seeing the helicopter flying through a layer of clouds and fog before the helicopter crashed.”
The lawsuit notes that in 2015 Zobayan was cited by the FAA for violating the visual flight rules minimums by “flying into an airspace of reduced visibility from weather conditions.”
Island Express did not immediately comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified general, economic and punitive damages.