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Half a century is a blip on cosmic timescales, but feels like an age in technological innovation, long enough to transform a task once considered impossible into something quite doable. So it might seem that, 50 years after human beings touched the surface of the moon, landing a spacecraft on our next-door neighbor should be less difficult, perhaps even easy.

It’s not.

The latest attempt to land on the moon failed this week, after an Indian spacecraft—an uncrewed, robotic mission—appeared to have crashed. The Chandrayaan-2 mission, developed and launched by India’s space agency, began orbiting the moon in August and released a lander yesterday. Mission Control lost contact with the lander, named Vikram, as it neared the surface. Indian officials have not yet announced the cause of the failure.

To read more on The Atlantic:

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