India’s attempt to land on the moon seems to have ended in abject failure after moon lander ‘Vikram’ lost touch with mission control before touchdown. ISRO Chairman, K. Sivan, has confirmed the unfortunate development, saying that the the incident happened early Saturday as it was descending towards the moon. The link was lost as the lander was at an altitude of 2.1 km over the moon’s South Pole, he said.

Vikram, named after the father of India’s space program, Vikram Sarabhai, was expected to land on the so-called ‘dark side of the moon’ as part of a mission to gather more information about the lunar South Pole that has remained largely unexplored thus far. However, now that it has become incommunicado, scientists fear that it has been lost for good, which would be a massive setback to India’s ambitions of becoming the first country to probe the unexplored region.

Vikram was part of India’s Chandrayaan-2 moon mission that was attempting a ‘soft’, or controlled, landing near the south pole of the moon to confirm the presence of water or ice on the moon’s surface. According to scientists, many of the craters in the south pole may have water in them as they’re largely unaffected by the high temperatures of the sun.

Chandrayaan 2 lifted off on July 22 aboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) a week after a technical glitch resulted in the postponement of the launch. The mission came 11 years after the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) first successful lunar mission, but is now believed to have ended in failure.

Featured Image Courtesy: ISRO