US Moon Landing Hopefuls Watch Silent India Lander — and Learn

Space.com | 9/13/2019 | Meghan Bartels
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As India attempted a daring moon landing last week — and in the wake of the apparent crash of its lander — NASA and U.S. companies have watched for any insights relevant to their own upcoming moon shots.

India's Chandrayaan-2 was an ambitious three-part mission, with an orbiter settled into circling the moon and a lander and rover that were meant to make a soft touchdown on Sept. 6. But late in the landing process, the Vikram lander went silent, and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is running out of time to reconnect with the robot. If it cannot, the incident will mark the second lunar lander lost this year, joining Israel's Beresheet mission. For the U.S., which hasn't attempted to land on the moon since the Apollo program but wants to again soon, it's a stark reminder of the difficulty of spaceflight.

Management - Perspective - Camille - Alleyne - Deputy

"For us from a management perspective, we just know this is hard," Camille Alleyne, deputy manager for the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program at NASA's Johnson Space Center, said during a panel yesterday (Sept. 12) at a symposium held in Huntsville, Alabama. The CLPS program wants to purchase landing services from U.S. companies to ferry science instruments. "It's clear that our contractor pool has a steep challenge on their hands."

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US - Companies - Part - Round - CLPS

Currently, two U.S. companies are taking part in the first round of CLPS missions, which are meant to land in 2021: Astrobotic and Intuitive Machines. Sharad Bhaskaran, mission director for Astrobotic, was also on the panel and had only praise for both Chandrayaan-2 and its Israeli predecessor.

"I think both the SpaceIL and the ISRO missions were huge successes," Bhaskaran said. "Our challenge is to learn from those missions, understand what happened, make sure that we don't make the same mistakes. If there are...
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