Chandrayaan-2: Countdown for moon mission begins, launch today at 2.43 pm

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 22 July 2019, 08:11 AM
India's ambitious second mission to the Moon Chandrayaan-2 will now lift off at 2.43 pm on July 22. (PTI)
India's ambitious second mission to the Moon Chandrayaan-2 will now lift off at 2.43 pm on July 22. (PTI)

The 20-hour countdown for Monday's Chandrayaan-2 mission launch began at 6.43 pm on Sunday. The rocket and spacecraft's systems will undergo checks and fuelling during the countdown. The GSLV-Mk III rocket with Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was originally scheduled for flight at 2.51 am on July 15. However, the flight was postponed after a technical snag was detected an hour prior to the rocket lift-off.

India's ambitious second mission to the Moon Chandrayaan-2 will now lift off at 2.43 pm on July 22 with scientists resolving the technical glitch in GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket that led to the aborting of the launch three days ago, space agency ISRO said.

Chandrayaan-2, which will be launched on-board the most powerful Geostationary Launch Vehicle GSLV-Mk-III dubbed 'Baahubali, is ready "to take a billion dreams to the Moon", the Indian Space Research Organisation said on Twitter.

In an update on its website, the ISRO later said remedial action had been taken based on the findings of a committee formed by it to analyse the cause of the glitch following which the rocket performance was 'normal'.

"The expert committee identified the root cause of the technical snag and all corrective actions are implemented. Thereafter, the system performance is normal", it said.

The launch of the 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2, a three-component spacecraft comprising an orbiter, lander and rover that would explore the unchartered lunar south pole, will now take place from the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2.43 pm.

The update by the ISRO, however, did not elaborate on the glitch that had led to abrupt stoppage of the countdown with 56.24 minutes left for the blast-off at 2.51 am on Monday.

The snag had occurred when the liquid propellant was being loaded into the rocket's indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine.

Veteran scientists heaped praise for the ISRO for calling off the launch rather hurrying into a major disaster.  Soon after the snag was noticed several scientists began working on identifying the cause, addressing the issue that temporarily halted the ambitious Rs 978 crore lunar mission.

The rescheduled launch would also be witnessed by nearly 5,000 people who will be accommodated at a viewing gallery, located a few kms from the launch pad, thrown open to the public by the ISRO in May last.

However, public wishing to view the launch have to register again for the July 22 lift-off, the ISRO said. The launch of Chandryaan-2 had missed its date earlier too when it was fixed for the first week of January. But it was shifted to July 15.

The mission would explore the unchartered lunar south pole, 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 will take 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases, ISRO has said.

Ahead of the July 15 aborted launch, the ISRO had said it was planning to make the soft landing of the lander - Vikram carrying rover 'Pragyan' - on September 6.

With the rescheduling of the launch, it is not clear when the soft landing will take place. 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.

It will involve a series of critical manuovers to take the spacecraft to the Moon's orbit first and then make the soft landing.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Sunday, July 21, 2019 07:40 PM
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