In a huge disappointment, ISRO lost all communications with the Lander Vikram of Chandrayaan-2, minutes before touchdown while the nation eagerly awaited its soft landing on the hitherto unexplored lunar South Pole in the wee hours of Saturday.

As the powered descent of the lander began at around 1:38 am, scientists at ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network were glued to their terminals in anxiety.

As the lander began the 15 minute autonomous descent, the time period the chairman of ISRO K Sivan referred to as 15 terrifying minutes, it passed a major hurdle called the ‘rough braking phase’, which is the descent from a height of 30 km to around 2.1 km before the ‘fine braking phase’ started. Soon after, the lander suddenly lost all contact with the ground station.

Faces started turning pale as the scientists got into a huddle. ISRO Chairman K Sivan was seen engaged in intense discussions with fellow project engineers.

Soon after, the ISRO Chief announced that the descent of the lander was as planned and normal performance was observed up to altitude of 2.1 km. But subsequently, communications between the lander and ground station was lost, he said, adding that the data was being analyzed.

The status of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram Lander will be known definitively only when ISRO makes a formal announcement.