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Chandrayaan-2 ‘giant leap for South Asia’, says Pakistan’s first woman astronaut

Namira Salim, Pakistan's first woman astronaut, said, “The Chandaryaan 2 lunar mission is indeed a giant leap for South Asia which not only makes the region but the entire global space industry proud.”

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
September 9, 2019 4:25:22 pm
chandrayaan 2 moon mission, vikram lander contact lost chandrayaan 2, Namira Salim chandrayaan, isro, k sivan isro, chandrayaan news Namira Salim is the first Pakistani to go to space (Source: Twitter/namirasalim)

Namira Salim, Pakistan’s first woman astronaut, congratulated India on its attempt to make a soft-landing on the Moon and called the Chandrayaan-2 mission a “giant leap for South Asia.”

Writing for digital science magazine Scientia, Salim said, “The Chandaryaan 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’s remarks come amid heightened tensions between India and Pakistan following the government’s move to scrap special status for Jammu and Kashmir. She further said political boundaries dissolve in space while lauding regional developments in the space sector in South Asia.

“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 wrote in the magazine.

The first Pakistani to have gone to space aboard Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Salim is also the first Pakistani to have traveled to the North and the South pole and the first Asian to skydive (in tandem) from Mount Everest.

India’s Chandrayaan-2 mission has not been successful. The lander of the spacecraft, called Vikram, did not slow down at the expected rate towards the latter part of its descent, and most likely hit the lunar surface at a speed greater than required for a safe landing.

Salim’s remarks lauding India on its historic attempt came after Pakistan Science Minister Fawad Choudhary mocked the moon mission, noting comparisons with India’s film industry.

“India (sic) only way now you can reach the Moon is through Bollywood, another 100 crore and you guys will be on the moon. On a serious note, extremists always fail and you failed when instead of scientists you relied on Jotshi and delayed the mission. Come out of hatred for other communities,” he said.

If successful, India would have been only the fourth country in the world to have landed on the lunar surface, after the erstwhile USSR, the USA and China. It was the first country to have attempted a smooth landing at the unexplored South pole of the Moon.

On Sunday, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Sivan was quoted as saying that the lander had been located on the Moon and a thermal image of it had been taken by instruments onboard the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. He, however, said efforts to re-establish contact with the lander had not yet been successful.

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