ISRO chief K Sivan today said it was a “big relief” when Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugged him hours after the space agency lost contact with the Chandrayaan 2 lander Vikram in September. The moment, widely praised on social media, showed PM Modi hugging and patting Mr Sivan as he broke down at the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru.
“When I was emotional, the honorable Prime Minister hugged me. He understood what really happened in my mind. He showed leadership. 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 told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
“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,” he said.
Chandrayaan 2, the first expedition by ISRO to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology, was India’s third mission to a celestial body after Chandryaan 1 mission in 2008 and the Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013.
Lunar lander Vikram was scheduled to soft land near the south pole of the moon after a 3.84 lakh km journey that began at the Sriharikota base in Andhra Pradesh on July 22. Moments before it was expected to land, ISRO lost contact with Vikram.
India hoped to become the fourth country in the world to successfully execute a soft landing on the lunar surface, and the first near the lunar south pole.