Indian Space Research Organisation Director K Sivan on Sunday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address to the nation and the positive response from across the country had boosted the morale of scientists who were upset after the lander of Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to moon, failed to touch down on the lunar surface.

“We are extremely happy [with PM’s address as well as nation rallying behind ISRO],” Sivan told PTI. “It has boosted the morale of our people.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told the scientists not to get disheartened after the lander, christened Vikram, lost communications with ISRO around 2 km above the moon’s surface. Modi reassured the scientists and said India’s determination to touch the moon had become even stronger. Modi consoled Sivan, who was in tears. The prime minister hugged the ISRO director and patted him on the back.

“We are so touched,” Sivan said, recalling Modi’s gesture. “The country has given a good, positive response. PM was incredible yesterday. The way he [PM] conveyed emotional and sometimes rich with meanings and positive responses. I think we could not have expected anything better. Fantastic.”

At a rally in Haryana on Sunday, Modi said “an ISRO spirit” had united the country. “On the night of September 7, 100 seconds after 1.50 am an incident awakened and united the entire country,” he added. “Like [there is] a sportsman spirit, an ISRO spirit is running in the country. Countrymen are not ready to accept negativity.”

The prime minister said the entire country sat in front of television screens to watch the Chandrayaan-2 lander touch down on lunar surface. “In those 100 seconds whatever the country did, it reflected the mettle of 125 crore countrymen,” Modi added.

On Saturday, the lander carried launched itself towards the moon and fought against its gravity for more than 28 km, slowing down almost to a halt mid-air, before losing contact with the ground station.

Hours later, adulation and words of encouragement poured in for the space agency’s endeavour. President Ram Nath Kovind said the country was proud of ISRO for showing exemplary commitment and courage. Home Minister Amit Shah said the space agency’s achievement in getting Chandrayaan-2 so far had “made every Indian proud”.

Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi said the mission had laid the foundation for greater achievements, and added that the entire country was waiting for the next attempt at space exploration. Rahul Gandhi also congratulated the ISRO team for doing incredible work. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the country was “proud of our scientists”. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the scientists had worked hard for the Chandrayaan-2 mission and the country was with them.

Earlier on Sunday, Sivan said ISRO had located the lunar lander. The ground station of the space agency was trying to establish contact with the lander, he added.

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