India’s attempt to become the first country to put a robo-rover on the moon’s South Pole went awry Saturday when engineers lost contact with the spacecraft.
The descent of the Vikram lander appeared to be going along smoothly when contact was lost as it descended about 1.3 miles above the moon’s surface, the Indian Space Research Organization said.
“Data is being analyzed,” IRSO tweeted.
Shortly after, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and expressed his pride in the mission, called Chandrayaan-2.
The country launched the craft into space in July as a follow-up to the Chandrayaan-1 mission a decade ago. That mission saw a craft orbit the moon for almost a year before scientists lost contact with the probe.
ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had billed the Chandrayaan-2 as an endeavor to “explore the unexplored.”
Indian scientists did successfully place a camera-equipped orbiter in its proper position, the IRSO said.
“India is proud of our scientists!” Modi said in a tweet. “They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!”
Only the U.S., China and Russia have successfully landed on the moon.