The launching of Chandrayaan 2 was called off just 56 minutes before blast-off early this morning due to a technical snag. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it will announce new date for it later.
According to the 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. After first being put on hold 56 minutes before blast-off, the Chandrayaan launch was called off because of a technical snag. President Ram Nath Kovind was present at the space port for the launch.
As per reports, the countdown was halted 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the planned liftoff at 2:51 am. The snag was in the cryogenic stage or last stage of the rocket before it separates. ISRO had announced one hour before launch that the filling of liquid hydrogen fuel had been completed.
ISRO tweeted around 3 am, “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.”
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 (@isro) July 14, 2019
ISRO chief K Sivan said 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.
“It was the right decision to call off Chandrayaan 2 launch. We could not have taken any chance in such a big mission, former Defence Research and Development Organisation’s director of public interface, Ravi Gupta, told news agencies.
It is notable that the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover was to lift off on the 640-tonne GSLV Mark III (nicknamed “Baahubali”). GSLV Mark III is India’s most powerful rocket. It is as high as a 15-storey building. Once it is launched, Chandrayaan 2 has to separate from the rocket and orbit the Earth several times before being slung towards the moon, a 3.84 lakh-km journey. The orbiter is to circle the moon for about a year.
When the spacecraft reaches the moon 54 days after lift-off, it will engage Vikram, a 1.4-tonne lander. It 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.
The moon mission’s success will propel India to an elite league; it would be 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.
Chandrayaan-2 will go to the Moon’s south polar region. The mission’s aim is to improve the understanding of the Moon – discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole. The Moon is the closest cosmic body at which space discovery can be attempted and documented. It is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan-2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase humans’ understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists.
Comparison between two moon missions
Chandrayaan-1 was launched by India’s Polar Satellite launch Vehicle- PSLV-C11 – on October 22, 2008 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. On the other hand, Chandrayaan-2 was slated be launched by the GSLV Mk-III on July 15, 2019. The Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft made more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon. Chandrayaan-1 was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009. Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter will continue its mission for around a year. The Chandrayaan-2 was originally planned as a collaboration with Russian space agency Roscosmos.
There were 11 scientific instruments onboard the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Five of them were Indian while the others were from European Space Agency (ESA), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Chandrayaan-2’s orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and to study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon. The lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments. All the equipment involved in the Chandrayaan 2 mission have been designed and manufactured in India.
* Lander capable of ‘Soft Landing’ on the lunar surface.
* Algorithm wholly developed by India’s scientific community.
* Rover capable of conducting in-situ payload experiments.
TIMELINE OF CHANDRAYAAN-1
August 15, 2003: Chandrayaan programme is announced by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
October 22, 2008: Chandrayaan-1 takes off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
November 8, 2008: Chandrayaan-1 enters a Lunar Transfer Trajectory.
November 14, 2008: The Moon Impact Probe ejects from Chandrayaan-1 and crashes near the lunar South Pole – confirms presence of water molecules on Moon’s surface.
August 28, 2009: End of Chandrayaan-1 programme.
TIMELINE OF CHANDRAYAAN-2 MISSION
September 18, 2008: Then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission.
July 9, 2019: Launch window opens.
July 15, 2019: The launching of Chandrayaan 2 was called off just 56 minutes before blast-off.
September 6, 2019: Chandrayaan-2 was expected to land on the Moon.