India’s second moon mission Chandrayaan-2, seeking to explore the uncharted Lunar south pole by landing a rover, was launched onboard its most powerful rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 from Sriharikota today, a week after the lift-off was aborted due to a technical snag. The Rs 978 crore mission, which was rescheduled after scientists corrected the glitch in the rocket, was launched at 2.43pm from the second launchpad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, over 100km from Chennai.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists, who aborted the previous launch with 56 minutes left for the countdown to end on July 15, have taken quick remedial action based on an analysis carried out by a team set up to look into the snag and announced the rescheduled launch three days ago. A 20-hour countdown for the launch began at 6.43pm on Sunday, ISRO announced.
Chandrayaan-2 comes 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission Chandrayaan-1, which scripted history by making more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.
“Chandrayaan-2 is ready to take a billion dreams to the Moon now stronger than ever before! Join us for the launch on Monday 22 July, 2019 at 2:43 PM IST,” ISRO had tweeted on July 18 while announcing the rescheduled launch.
On the eve of the launch, ISRO chairman K Sivan said all preparations were on and the glitch had been rectified. “Whatever technical snag we observed on July 15 has been rectified. The vehicle is in good health… The (pre-launch) rehearsal has been successfully completed,” he told reporters at Chennai airport on a brief stopover.
The 43.43m tall three-stage rocket dubbed ‘Baahubali’, for its ability to carry heavy payloads, would blast-off carrying Chandrayaan-2 and inject the spacecraft into Earth orbit about 16 minutes later.
After lift-off, the 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2, comprising an orbiter, lander and rover, will undergo 15 crucial manoeuvres before landing on the Moon, expected by the first week of September, Sivan said. Scientists would make soft landing of the lander in the South Pole region of the Moon where no country has gone so far, the ISRO chief said.
Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission undertaken by the ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.