THE launch of India’s second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, was called off due to a technical snag less than an hour before blast-off on Monday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said. The countdown to the launch of Chandrayaan-2, on board the GSLV Mk-III rocket, was scheduled for 2.51 am. It was stopped 56 minutes and 24 seconds before lift-off at 1.55 am following an announcement from the Mission Control Centre. Confusion prevailed for several minutes before ISRO came out with an official confirmation about the launch being cancelled. “A technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle system at t-minus 56 minutes. As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for Monday,” ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations) B R Guruprasad said.
A revised launch date will be announced later, he added. “Launch is called off due to technical snag. It is not possible to make the launch within the (launch) window. (A new) launch schedule will be announced later,” another ISRO official said. India’s space agency had earlier scheduled the launch in the first week of January but shifted it to July 15. The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover was scheduled from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) here. President Ram Nath Kovind was in Sriharikota to witness the launch.
The Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to explore the uncharted lunar south pole, 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission-- Chandrayaan-1, which made more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009. The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2, on-board the heavy-lift rocket Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle GSLV-Mk-III, nicknamed Baahubali, would have taken 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.
After a full dress rehearsal last week, the countdown for the mission commenced at 6.51 am on Sunday and scientists had undertaken various stages of propellant filling to power the rocket ahead of the launch. Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by the ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2 would have made India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.
Scientists hail ISRO for detecting glitch in time
GIVING credit to ISRO for saving the day with its alertness, several space scientists on Monday said the space agency must be appreciated for calling off the launch of India’s second Moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, rather than hurrying into a major disaster. The mission launch, billed as the most complex and prestigious undertaken since ISRO’s inception, was called off due to a technical snag less than an hour before blast-off early Monday due to technical problems.
“A technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle system at t-minus 56 minutes. As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for Monday,” ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations) B R
Scientists hail ISRO... Guruprasad said in Sriharikota. He did not specify what the snag was. “ISRO has an exceptional success rate when it comes to launching systems. Checking and diagnosing complex systems in a rocket till the last minute is an art by itself, which they seem to have mastered,” said Rajesh Kumble Nayak, head of the Centre for Excellence in Space Sciences India in Kolkata’s Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER).
“I am glad that people at ISRO decided to hold back rather than hurrying into a major disaster. I guess the mission will be held back for a few weeks, which is much better than a failure,” Nayak told PTI. Scientists also expressed the hope that any technical problem will be sorted out by ISRO, and the mission will be launched successfully. “While before the launch of such a space mission, we celebrate our technological capabilities and scientific prospect, we must remember that very rigorous tests and monitoring of every component of the vehicle and satellites are done again and again for a space mission,” said Sudip Bhattacharyya, associate professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai. “One must not be complacent, and must remain alert till the last moment. Today’s temporary calling off is a result of this essential alertness, which has possibly saved the day, and therefore the credit goes to the team. I do hope that any technical problem will be sorted out, and it will be launched successfully,” Bhattacharyya told PTI.
While a revised launch date will be announced later, India hopes the Rs 980 crore-mission will be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole. It will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring Moon-quakes, among other things. If successful, India will become the fourth country to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface. Only the US, China and Russia has been able to do so, experts say. “Our nearest astronomical neighbour, the Moon, serves as an important first step in this journey of cosmic discovery,” said IISER professor Dibyendu Nandi..
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