Sriharikota: India’s second unmanned mission to the Moon, named Chandrayaan 2, has been put on hold citing technical issues, and a revised countdown is to be announced shortly. The launch was scheduled from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota at 2.51 am today.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had entrusted the job of carrying a 3.8-tonne rover to the Moon to the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), India’s most powerful launcher till date. The GSLV Mk-III is Nicknamed ‘Bahubali.’
A technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle at T-56th minute. As a measure of abundant precaution, the Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today, said ISRO in a tweet. A revised launch date will be announced later, they added.
“The technical snag was noticed. We first have to approach the vehicle to assess the problem. First we have to empty the fuel loaded in the rocket, then the rocket will be taken back for further investigation,” an ISRO official said. “This process will take 10 days after that only we can decide on the launch schedule,” he added.
ISRO had aimed to touch down on the South Pole of the Moon where no country had gone before. President Ram Nath Kovind had flown in to Sriharikota to witness the launch.
Confusion prevailed at the media centre as the countdown timer stopped with 56.24 minutes to go for the lift-off. Mission Control made an announcement that the countdown has been held back. “It is not possible to make the launch within the launch window. A new schedule will be announced later,” the Mission Control said.
ISRO had a launch window that ends on July 16 for the launch during this period. The launch of Chandrayaan 2 has suffered multiple setbacks with ISRO missing many deadlines since 2018. It was scheduled to be launched in a window between January and mid-February this year, but was put off yet again.
ISRO finally announced the current launch window and its Chairman K. Sivan had then said that the launch window was final and would be met. But that too fell apart in the early hours of July 15.
The Mission was aborted just 20 minutes after ISRO announced the completion of filling of liquid hydrogen in the cryogenic stage of the GSLV-Mk-III.
The Mission was to be a test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep Space Missions.
The Chandrayaan 2 module, carrying an indigenous rover Pragyaan and a lander Vikram, was to have separated 16 minutes after liftoff, and touch down on the Moon 54 days later. But with the calling off of the launch on July 15, the wait to reach the Lunar South Pole just got longer.