India's space agency lost touch with its Vikram lunar lander as it made its final approach to the south pole of the moon. In a $140 million mission, it was scheduled to deploy a rover to search for signs of water.
It is not known at this time if the lander crashed but the agency said the spacecraft's descent was normal until 2 kilometres from the lunar surface.. "Let us hope for the best," said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was at Mission Control in the southern city of Bangalore. "The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you," said Mr Modi. A successful landing would have made India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface.
The space agency's chairman had earlier called Chandrayaan-2 the "most complex mission ever" undertaken by the space agency. For the first time in India's space history, the interplanetary expedition was led by two women - Muthaya Vanitha, the project director, and Ritu Karidhal, the mission director. Unlike previous attempts by other countries, India was attempting to land its rover on the far side of the moon, an area that has been left largely unexplored during other missions.