India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, will launch at 2.43 pm on Monday from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, a week after it was originally scheduled to take off. The mission was called off on July 15 due to a technical problem.
The Indian Space Research Organisation, or ISRO, began a 20-hour countdown at 6.43 pm on Sunday. ISRO Chairperson K Sivan told The Hindu that the agency was aiming to put the lander, christened Vikram, and the rover, named Pragyan, on the lunar surface by September 7, just a day behind the earlier schedule.
Sivan said corrective measures were taken after the technical problem was detected. “It took us more than a day to do that after the glitch was discovered leading to the cancellation,” The Times of India quoted him as saying. “I can assure you that there will be no such technical snag this time.”
If the mission is successful, India will become the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after the United States, Russia, and China.
Sivan said Chandrayaan-1 had revealed the presence of water molecules on the Moon, and added that there were possibilities of the latest mission returning successful scientific experiments, PTI reported. “It is because of these reasons that Chandrayaan-2 has attracted attention not only from Indian scientists but also global scientists.”
An unidentified former scientist of the space agency said the launch window on Monday was narrow, The Indian Express reported. “The most suitable launch window this month was between July 9 and 16,” the scientist said. “On these days, the time slot during which the mission could be launched extended to about an hour or more. But on Monday, this launch opportunity exists for barely a couple of minutes. So, all operations in the run-up to the launch have to be completed with extreme precision. There is no room for any delay. I am sure the mission control can do this.”
According to the revised flight sequence, Chandrayaan-2 will spend 23 days in the Earth’s orbit instead of 17 in the earlier schedule. After incrementally raising its orbit, the spacecraft will begin its journey towards the Moon, which will take seven days. It will remain in lunar orbit for 13 days, according to The Indian Express.
The lander module will separate from the orbiter on Day 43, or September 2, and may continue to go around the Moon for another few days in a lower orbit. The actual landing will be on September 6, as originally scheduled, or in the early hours of September 7.