Sriharikota: The launch of Chandrayaan 2, India’s most ambitious space mission yet, was called off early this morning by the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO. The powerful GSLV Mark III rocket was set to go up from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 2:51 am with a rover that would land on the moon in about two months’ time. However, after first being put on hold 56 minutes before blast-off, the launch was scrapped because of a “technical snag”, ISRO said, adding it would announce a new date later. President Ram Nath Kovind was present at the space port for the mission.
Here are the top 10 developments on the Chandrayaan 2 launch:
- “A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch. As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later,” ISRO tweeted.
- Ahead of the launch, ISRO chief K Sivan had told NDTV that the space agency has another lift-off opportunity tomorrow if it were called off today. But launch windows have to meet several technical criteria and so it could even take weeks or months for a new date.
- The 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover will now lift off on the 640-tonne GSLV Mark III (nicknamed “Baahubali”), India’s most powerful rocket that’s as high as a 15-storey building, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on another date. This was going to be the Mark III’s third launch.
- About 16 minutes after its lift-off from Sriharikota, Chandrayaan 2 was expected to separate from the rocket and orbit the Earth several times before being slung towards the moon – a 3.84 lakh-km journey.
- Once the spacecraft reaches the moon 54 days later, it will engage Vikram, a 1.4-tonne lander, which will in turn set the 27-kilogramme rover Pragyan down on a high plain between two craters on the lunar south pole. After touchdown on the moon, the rover is expected to conduct experiments for one Moon day equal to 14 Earth days, primarily to check if the lunar south pole has primordial water reserves.
- “We aim to improve our understanding of the moon, which could lead to discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole,” a statement issued by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) read.
- If India succeeds in this moon mission, it will become the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar surface after the US, Russia and China. Israel had tried earlier this year but failed.
- All the equipment involved in the Chandrayaan 2 mission have been designed and manufactured in India. It is the sequel to the successful Chandrayaan 1, which helped confirm the presence of water on the moon in 2009.
- An analysis published by Sputnik International claimed that the approximate $124-million price tag of the Chandrayaan 2 is less than half the budget of Hollywood blockbuster Avengers Endgame ($356 million). The Indian space agency has a budget that’s 20 times less than NASA, its US counterpart.
- India’s next big mission will involve sending a human into orbit through Gaganyaan by 2022. Most experts say the geo-strategic stakes are high, and India’s assertion of its space power through low-cost models could win it lucrative commercial satellite and orbiting deals in the future.
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