Published: Tue, July 23, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

India launches moon mission a week after it was aborted

India launches moon mission a week after it was aborted

The spacecraft has successfully entered the earth's orbit, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

But the lander and rover of Chandrayaan-2 were scheduled to touch down September 6 (Sept. 7 local time in mission control) - and that was before the launch was delayed almost a week.

India has announced a successful launch to its second moon mission as the Chandrayaan-2 mission lifted off on Monday at 14:43 local time.

The liftoff marks India's bid to become only the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the moon.

What ISRO hopes to attempt on the moon is called a "soft landing", a technological feat that only the former Soviet Union, the United States and China have so far achieved.

India's first lunar mission in 2008 - Chandrayaan-1 - did not land on the lunar surface, but it carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the Moon using radars. K. Sivan, head of the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, said the rocket successfully injected the spacecraft into orbit.

Finding water is the mission for Chandrayaan-2, and it has three experiments specially designed for this hunt.

Equipped with a rover, Chandrayaan 2 revisits numerous mapping projects of its predecessor, and retains an interest in water ice, an important resource in the long term. What would make every Indian overjoyed is the fact that Chandrayaan-2 is a fully indigenous mission.

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Indian media later reported that a helium leak was to blame.

This is India's most ambitious mission yet in an effort to establish itself as a low-priced space power and become only the 4th nation to soft-land on the moon, thereby joining an elite space force. "Its target is a region near the mysterious south pole, where no other missions have explored", The New York Times commented.

After a technical snag aborting the takeoff on July 15, the space agency succeeded in putting the satellite on the desired orbit, or a better orbit, as the first step of its 48-day journey to the moon's unexplored south pole, about 384,000 km away.

ESA is working with the Canadian and Japanese space agencies to prepare its Heracles Moon mission, to be carried out in the mid to late 2020s.

The lander (named Vikram, after the founder of Isro) weighs about half as much, and carries within its belly a 27kg Moon rover with instruments to analyse the lunar soil.

Recalling the tense moments after the launch was aborted last week, Sivan said: "The entire Isro team had swung into action to ensure the snag was fixed properly".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the "prowess" of India's scientists and the "determination" of its citizens.

The mission: There are three components: the orbiter, the lander, and the rover.

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