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Chandrayaan 2 Launch Aborted After Technical Snag During Cryogenic Fuelling, ISRO to Give New Date

ISRO froze the Chandrayaan 2 countdown at 56 minutes and 24 seconds to launch after a technical snag was noticed reportedly when the cryogenic fuel was being loaded.


Updated:July 15, 2019, 12:33 PM IST
Chandrayaan 2 Launch Aborted After Technical Snag During Cryogenic Fuelling, ISRO to Give New Date
In this picture released by ISRO on July 11, 2019, the GSLV Mk 3 is seen at the second launch pad ahead in Sriharikota. (ISRO/PTI Photo)

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): In an anti-climax of sorts, Chandrayaan 2, India's second mission to the moon, was called off in the early hours of Tuesday after the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) encountered a technical snag.

"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.

The snag was reportedly noticed when the cryogenic fuel was being loaded.

"The technical snag was noticed during the cryogenic fuel was being loaded. We have to approach the vehicle to assess the problem. First, we have to empty the fuel loaded in the rocket, then the rocket will be taken back for further investigation," news agency IANS quoted a source as saying.

"This process will take 10 days after that only we can decide on the launch schedule," the source said.

The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover was scheduled for 2:51 am from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. However, the countdown was held back with 56.24 minutes to go for the launch.

The mission was to follow the successful maiden Lunar Mission Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008. The rocket (Chandrayaan-1) which made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon, was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.

The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 onboard Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle GSLV-MkIII-M1 was scheduled to take 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.

After a full dress rehearsal last week, the countdown for the mission commenced at 6.51 am on Sunday and scientists underwent various stages of propellant filling to power the rocket ahead of the launch.

India will step up the international space race when it launches the low-cost mission to become only the fourth country to land a probe on the Moon. India has spent about $140 million to get Chandrayaan-2 ready for the 384,400 km trip from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre to the scheduled landing on the lunar south pole.

The United States spent about $25 billion — the equivalent of more than $100 billion in current prices — on 15 Apollo missions, including the six that put Armstrong and other astronauts on the Moon.

China landed its Chang'e 4 lunar craft in January, and spent $8.4 billion on its entire space programme in 2017, according to international Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development figures. And Russia, the first country to land an unmanned Moon rocket in 1966, spent more than $20 billion at today's values on lunar missions in the 1960s and 70s.

Almost the entire Chandrayaan-2's orbiter, lander and rover have been designed and made in India. India will use its most powerful rocket launcher, GSLV Mk III, to carry the 2.4 tonne orbiter, which has a mission life of about a year.

The spacecraft will carry the 1.4 tonne lander Vikram — which in turn will take the 27-kilogramme (60-pound) rover Pragyan — to a high plain between two craters on the lunar South Pole.

ISRO chief K Sivan had earlier said that Vikram's 15-minute final descent "will be the most terrifying moments as we have never undertaken such a complex mission". The solar-powered rover can travel up to 500 metres (yards) and is expected to work for one lunar day, the equivalent of 14 Earth days.

Sivan said the probe will be looking for signs of water and "a fossil record of the early solar system".

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