Pak’s 1st woman astronaut hails ISRO on Chandrayaan-2

Amid the Indo-Pak war of words over Kashmir, Pakistan’s first female astronaut Namira Salim has congratulated India and Indian Space Research Organisation for its Chandrayaan-2 mission, saying the attempt to make a landing on the Moon was itself a “giant leap” for South Asia and as well as for the entire global space industry.

ISRO’s plan to soft-land the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram module on the lunar surface did not go as per script in the early hours of Saturday, with the lander losing communication with ground stations during its final 2.1-km descent.

Considered as the “most complex” stage of the country’s second expedition to the Moon, the lander was on a powered decent for a soft landing when it lost contact.

“I congratulate India and ISRO on its historical attempt to make a successful soft landing of the Vikram lander at the South Pole of the Moon. The Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission is indeed a giant leap for South Asia which not only makes the region but the entire global space industry proud,” Salim said in a statement to Karachi-based magazine Scientia.

Salim is the first Pakistani to go to space aboard the Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic.

She said the regional developments in the space sector in South Asia are remarkable.

“Regional developments in the Space sector in South Asia are remarkable and no matter which nation leads-in space, all political boundaries dissolve and in space-what unites us, overrides, what divides us on Earth,” she said.

Her comments came amid the ongoing war of words between India and Pakistan ever since India withdrew Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two union territories on August 5.

What was once the club of a select few elite space nations, is now open to all nations at the dawn of our NewSpace age. India is the first country to attempt a historic landing on the South Pole of the Moon and would have been the fourth nation to touch down on the lunar surface after space agencies of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United States of America and China to have operated a rover on the Moon, according to the magazine.

While ISRO failed in making the Vikram module a soft landing on the moon, ISRO chairman K Sivan on Sunday said, “Yes, we have located the lander on the lunar surface. It must have been a hard-landing”.

Salim, who is based in Monaco and Dubai, is the founder and executive chairperson of Space Trust, a non-profit initiative.

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