Published: 07th September 2019
Chandrayaan-2 missed creating history: How successful were other countries in their missions to the Moon?
From 1958 to 2019, India, as well as the United States, the USSR, Japan, China and Israel, launched different lunar missions — all kinds like orbiters, landers and flyby
History was being made until that took a halt by just 0.0006 per cent. By now you know what I am talking about — India's Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to land on the moon, which finally didn't just 2.1 km before the touchdown.
India attempted to become the first country to conduct a soft-landing on the lunar south pole but missed the history by just 0.0006 per cent. Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Chandrayaan-2 mission successfully traveled the distance of 3,83,998 km out of 3,84,000 km between Earth and Moon but failed just 2.1 km before the final touchdown on the lunar land. ISRO lost contact with the lander Vikram during its descent to the lunar surface, minutes before the planned touch-down on September 7. The status of the lander is yet to be known, but the good news is Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter is still in orbit of the Moon and working fine.
The success ratio of lunar missions undertaken by numerous countries in the last six decades is a mere 60 per cent, according to US space agency NASA's 'Moon Fact Sheet'. Of the total of 109 lunar missions during the period, only 61 had been successful and 48 had failed, it stated. However, countries have not stopped trying.
There have been some countries that have made the trip to the moon and back. The United States of America is the only country to have put on homo sapiens on the big white oval but there are other countries like the USSR, Japan, China, India, Israel and the European Space Agency that have made visits via probes.
Like our textbooks have told us, the Americans did take the first giant leap for mankind and even though controversy and conspiracy theories follow that episode, Armstrong did wobble around on the moon. The country has since launched probes to the moon to conduct scientific studies. They conducted a total of 76 missions to the moon, out of which 37 have been successful, which means they had nearly a 47 per cent success rate.
The Soviet Union/USSR
Like the film, Hidden Figures would have taught you, the Americans were pretty annoyed that they didn't get to put the first person into space. The USSR sent Yuri Gagarin first but they did send missions to the moon. They even sent lunar missions to the moon. Out of a total of 89 missions, the USSR emerged victorious in just 18 of them. That would be a mere 20 per cent. The USSR had experienced the most number of launch failures — nearly 32 per cent.
Hiten and Selene were launched by Japan and they both orbited the moon, the former was launched in 1990 and crashed in 1993 and the latter was launched in 2007 and crashed in 2009. They had also sent Orbital and Gravity Assist missions to the moon. Japan's success rate in its lunar missions is 67 per cent including one which they had launched with NASA.
Our neighbouring country has launched nine lunar missions in total, including rover, orbiter and gravity assist, out of which eight were successful — an 89 per cent success rate.
The first probe to the moon was launched in 2008 and the latest, the Chandraayan- 2 was launched in 2019. Chandrayaan-1 is still operational and it succeeded through the mission and remains in selenocentric orbit. The Moon Impact that was also launched in 2008, had been successful. Chandrayaan-2 entered the orbit on August 20, 2019, thus making India successful in two out of its three missions.