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  1. ITV Report

India moon mission suffers last minute setback as space agency loses contact with Vikram lunar lander

Indian Space Research Organisation as news came in the mission had failed. Credit: AP

India's moon landing mission suffered a setback on Saturday as the country's space agency said it had lost touch with its Vikram lunar lander.

The spacecraft was aimed to land on the south pole of the moon and deploy a rover to search for signs of water but communication was lost two kilometres (1.25 miles) from the lunar surface.

The space agency was analysing data as it worked to determine what had happened.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi remained positive despite the hitch.

A successful landing would make India just the fourth country to land a vessel on the lunar surface, and only the third nation to operate a robotic rover there.

Animated graphics of Chandrayaan-2 landing module. Credit: AP

The roughly £114 million mission, known as Chandrayaan-2, is intended to study permanently shadowed moon craters that are thought to contain water deposits that were confirmed by the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008.

Mr Modi had travelled to the space centre to witness the planned landing in the early hours of Saturday and to congratulate scientists who were part of the mission.

The space agency’s chairman had earlier called Chandrayaan-2 the “most complex mission ever” undertaken by the space agency.

Indian Space Research Organisation employees react as they listen to an announcement by chief Kailasavadivoo Sivan Credit: Aijaz Rahi/AP

The mission lifted off on July 22 from the Satish Dhawan space centre, in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Chandrayaan-2 spent several weeks making its way to the moon, ultimately entering lunar orbit on August 20.

On September 2, Vikram separated from the mission’s orbiter, and the lander began a series of braking manoeuvres to lower its orbit and ready itself for landing.