India Loses Contact With Spacecraft Attempting To Land On Moon

India lost communication with its spacecraft attempting to land on the moon early Saturday, appearing to miss its shot for now at becoming the fourth nation to do so.

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and dozens of scientists looked on from a space center in Bangalore ― and at least hundreds of thousands watched live from around the world ― the nation’s space program lost communication with a lander descending toward the lunar South pole. 

The descent of a lander in the Chandrayaan-2 space mission had been “as planned and normal” until an altitude of about 1.3 miles, after which communication from the spacecraft to the ground stations was lost, according to the India Space Research Organization’s mission control center. “Data is being analyzed,” the group added. 

“India is proud of our scientists! They’ve given their best and have always made India proud,” Modi tweeted from the space center, where he had gone to watch “history unfold,” as he put it earlier. 

“These are moments to be courageous, and courageous we will be!” he added.

As it became clear in the space center that communication had been lost, some scientists in the room could be seen with their heads in their hands. 

An orbiter with the mission is still in operation, per the New York Times. 

“We remain hopeful,” Modi tweeted after India’s apparent mission failure on Saturday. “And will continue working hard on our space programme.”