Nearly an hour before the scheduled time early on Monday, India’s ambitious mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, was aborted after a “technical snag” was observed in the launch vehicle system.
The 640-tonne rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) nicknamed “Baahubali” carrying the orbiter, lander, and rover was to take off at 2 hours 51 minutes, early on Monday morning from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
However, after first being put on hold 56 minutes before blast-off, the launch was scrapped because of a “technical snag”, ISRO said.
A revised launch date has not been announced yet.
“A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch. As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later,” ISRO tweeted.
About 16 minutes after its lift-off, Rs 603 crore Chandrayaan 2 was expected to separate from the Rs 375 crore GSLV-Mk III rocket and orbit the Earth several times before being slung towards the moon, which will nearly take two months to land.
The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission was a prestigious one as it aimed to make India as the fourth nation in the world to land and ride on the moon after the US, Russia and China.
Interestingly, the GSLV-Mk III rocket will be used for India’s manned space mission slated in 2022.
Talking to news agency ANI, former Defence Research and Development Organisation’s director of public interface, Ravi Gupta said, “It was the right decision to call off Chandrayaan-2 launch. We could not have taken any chance in such a big mission. Several rounds of testing are performed for every part. Every movement needs to be monitored at every second”.
President Ram Nath Kovind was present at the space port for the mission.
Chandrayaan-2 is a sequel to Chandrayaan-1, India’s maiden unmanned moon mission which was announced by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the 56th Independence Day in 2003.
The spacecraft was launched successfully on October 22, 2008, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. The spacecraft with an initial weight of approximately 590 kg was launched on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C 11.
By August 2009, the orbiter started witnessing technical issues which included failure of the star sensors. And due to poor thermal shielding, the Chandrayaan-1 stopped sending radio signals on August 28, 2009. ISRO speculated that it might have crashed on the moon’s surface.
The mission was terminated abruptly after 312 days as ISRO lost contact with the spacecraft on August 29, 2009.