Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday told Indian Space Research Organisation scientists not to get disheartened after the Vikram lander of Chandrayaan-2 lost communications with ISRO around 2 km above the moon’s surface.

Modi reassured the scientists and said India’s determination to touch the moon has become even stronger. “You are among those who live and work hard to take India to new heights,” he said at the space agency’s headquarters in Bengaluru. “You are the ones who sacrifice your own dreams and spend sleepless nights to keep India’s head high.”

“We came very close, but we need to cover more ground... learnings from today will make us stronger and better,” Modi said. “The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you. There have been obstacles but our resolve won’t be weakened but strengthened.”

The prime minister flew to Bengaluru on Friday to witness the moon lander Vikram’s touchdown on the lunar surface at the ISRO communication centre with scientists, invitees and schoolchildren. He said he saw the moment when communication was lost, and when the scientists were shaken by it. “I could see the anxiety on your faces,” he told them. “There is no need to get disappointed because it is not a small achievement. The country is proud of you.”

“There will be a new dawn and a brighter tomorrow very soon,” he said in his address.

He thanked them for their achievements and said they had ventured to a place that no one in the country had before. Modi also urged the space agency to continue its efforts and said “resilience and tenacity are central to India’s ethos”.

After his address, Modi consoled ISRO’s Director K Sivan. The prime minister hugged a crying Sivan and patted him on his back.

Later in the morning, he inaugurated the first coach for Mumbai Metro built under the Make in India programme. At the event, Modi said he was inspired by the courage of ISRO scientists. “I stayed overnight with my scientist colleagues at #ISRO, I am very impressed to see the courage they have shown,” he said. “The orbiter is still there, orbiting the moon. This is also a historical achievement.”

At 2.16 am on Saturday, Sivan first briefed Modi and then announced that the ground station had lost contact with the lander Vikram. “Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km,” he said. “Subsequently communications from lander to ground station was lost. The data is being analysed.”

The lander carried by India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, had launched itself towards the moon and fought against its gravity for more than 28 km, slowing down almost to a halt mid-air, before it lost contact with the ground station.

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