Less than an hour before lift off, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) called off India's second mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-2 onboard GSLVMkIII-M1. The countdown to the launch was stopped 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the scheduled lift-off at 2.51 am following the announcement from the Mission Control Centre.
Confusion prevailed for several minutes before ISRO came out with an official confirmation about the launch being cancelled. The space agency has cited ‘technical snag’ as the reason behind its move to call off the dream project.
"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 today," ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations), B R Guruprasad said.
"Revised launch date will be announced later," he added.
Another ISRO official said: "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."
The 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). President Ram Nath Kovind was also present in Sriharikota to witness the launch.
The historic Chandrayaan-2 mission was supposed to target a completely unexplored section of the Moon that is, its “South Polar region - Aitken Basin”. By conducting topographical studies and mineralogical analyses alongside a few other experiments on the Moon’s Surface, the ISRO’s ambitious mission aimed to get a better understanding of the Moon’s origin and its evolution.
The mission was being considered as a challenge since no space agency has ever explored the South Polar Region of the Moon. Importantly, Chandrayaan-1 made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.
Chandrayaan-2 has three elements including the Rover, the Lander, and the Orbiter. As soon as the spacecraft will land on the moon, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and then perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising of tough braking and fine braking. The lander, named Vikram, will land near the Moon’s South Pole and then it will then carry out experiments on Lunar surface for 1 Lunar day. A single lunar day is equal to 14 Earth days. However, Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.