Days after Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) called off its moon mission due to a technical snag, the space agency today (Thursday, July 18) announced that they will proceed with the Chandrayaan-2 launch on July 22 at 2.43 pm, just a week later than the previous date.
“Chandrayaan-2 launch, which was called off due to a technical snag on July 15, 2019, is now rescheduled at 2:43 pm IST on Monday, July 22, 2019,” ISRO tweeted.
— ISRO (@isro) July 18, 2019
The new launch date was finalised late on Wednesday, reported The Times of India (TOI) quoting a source.
On July 15, ISRO’s ambitious mission to land a spacecraft on the moon was called off less than an hour before the launch. A technical snag was detected in the GSLV-MkIII rocket, ISRO’s most powerful rocket built to carry heavier payloads. The snag has since been rectified, reports said.
“The expert committee identified the root cause of the technical snag and all corrective actions are implemented,” ISRO said, without elaborating on what the “root cause” was.
According to source-based news media reports, the problem was detected in the upper stage of the rocket carrying the cryogenic engine where liquid hydrogen fuel had been filled less than half an hour earlier.
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second Moon mission, after Chandrayaan-1, but is significantly more ambitious as it involves soft-landing a lander – Vikram, named after the father of India’s space programme Vikram Sarabhai – and operating a robotic rover (Pragyan) on the lunar surface, while an Orbiter goes circles Moon in a 100km X 100km orbit.
The lander and rover are slated to land on the Moon on September 6. The ISRO has chosen an unexplored site at the lunar south pole where no country has been before.
If India manages to successfully land Vikram on Moon, it will only be the fourth nation after the erstwhile USSR (now Russia), US and China to do so.
While ISRO has a host of objectives for Chandrayaan-2, including its hopes of unraveling some secrets about the evolution of the solar system, the most critical will be to re-confirm the presence of water on Moon, and to try and map its presence.
This is also the first operational or working flight for the GSLV-MkIII rocket, which has flown well only twice before.
Chandrayaan-2 was originally scheduled to be launched as early as in 2010 or 2011, immediately after the 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission. But at that time, it was supposed to be a joint India-Russia mission, with Russia contributing the lander and rover, while ISRO was to provide the launcher and the Orbiter.
The planned mission could not take off because of design flaws detected in the Russian lander and rover. The Russians eventually pulled out of the collaboration, leaving ISRO to build its own lander and rover. That took time, and the mission was finally ready by 2017.
The mission was initially slated to be launched last year,but was postponed thrice.