New Delhi, Jul 15, 2019 : With the countdown clock freezing minutes before 2 am, the launch of Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to moon, was called off 56 minutes before the scheduled time early Monday morning, hindustan times reported.
The GSLV Mark III carrying the orbiter, lander, and rover was to take off at 02:51 am from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, the country’s only launch site.
The launch was aborted as an “abundant precaution” after a technical snag was noticed in the launch vehicle systems after filling liquid hydrogen in the cryogenic upper stage of the rocket.
“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,” a statement from the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said.
There were four suitable window periods for the launch of Chandrayaan 2 in the month of July – July 15 and 16 and then again during new moon on July 29 and 30. The launch window on July 15, which is just days before the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong first walking on moon, was missed.
The launch is unlikely to happen during the next three windows in July.
“The stages will now have to be drained to see what went wrong,” said an official, on condition of anonymity.
The next window for launch will be in September.
The indigenous mission was first scheduled for March 2018 and delayed four times for making changes in the design of the lander and the orbit in which it would reach the surface of the moon. The July 2019 launch date was decided after a design change to the lander, a change in the orbit, and the new GSLV Mark III launch vehicle to carry the now heavier satellite.
India’s second mission to moon had been approved by the cabinet in 2008 just after Chandrayaan 1. Initially, Russia’s Roscosmos was supposed to develop the lander and the mission had to be postponed when Russia was unable to develop the lander on time and later withdrew after the failure of its mission to Phobos, the moon of Mars, prompting India to develop the entire mission on its own.
Chandrayaan 2 mission will make India the fourth country after the US, USSR, and China to land on moon. It will also be the first mission in the world to land near the lunar South Pole to look for water and cold traps with history of the solar system.