In the wake of a ‘technical snag’, India halts its second lunar mission. The satellite was scheduled to be launched at 2:51 IST on Monday from the Sriharikota space station, located on India’s eastern coast.
However, the countdown halted 56 minutes before the satellite launch as a result of a technical problem. According to reports of the India’s space agency, the new launch date will be announced soon.
The second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 is the first of its kind planned to land on the Moon’s South Pole. The kingpin of the 2,379kg (5,244lb) weighing spacecraft will be the quest for water on the lunar surface, in addition to measuring moonquakes and search for lunar minerals.
Chandrayaan-2, which can be translated as Moon vehicle 2 is a mission worth $150m. It will explore the less commonly investigated South Pole of the moon. The success will make India the fourth country, after US, China and Soviet Union to have made a successful lunar endeavor in the past. In the country’s previous attempt in 2008, Chandrayaan-1 did not land on the moon, but the expedition had undertaken a detailed search for water on the lunar surface with the help of radars.
As quoted by the chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Dr K Sivan, he commented the mission was “the most complex space mission ever to be undertaken by the agency”.
The spacecraft has three distinct parts, an orbiter, a lander and a rover. Moreover, for the mission, a powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III), will come into play. The rocket weighs 640 tonnes, which is almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet and is at 44 metres (144ft) as high as a 14-storey building. According to reports, the lander and the rover of the spacecraft will land on the moon in early September, which will thus also make Chandrayaan-2 one of the first ones to touch down on the rarely explored south pole.
“India can hope to get the first selfies from the lunar surface once the rover gets on its job,” Dr Sivan reported in the wake of the mission’s planning.
The lunar mission has also faced criticism, opponents believe the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, should first address the country’s more urgent problems like poverty.
However, the success of the lunar mission will escalate the country’s future space missions targeting research on Mars and asteroids. It will pave way for Indian astronauts for more crewed space flights by 2022. The country is thus directing efforts in becoming one of the space powers.
Addressing the latest mission at hand, Dr Sivan nervously states; “there is churning in his stomach. Unknown-unknowns can kill a mission, (although) no stone has been left unturned to understand all the complexities”.