India launched Chandrayaan-2, its second mission to the moon, into space at 2.43 pm on Monday. An earlier attempt, made on July 15, had to be called off by the Indian Space Research Organisation due to a technical problem.
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III-M1 lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It injected the 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2 into the Earth’s orbit about 16 minutes later. The space body had started a 20-hour countdown at 6.43 pm on Sunday.
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. A successful landing would make Chandrayaan-2 the first lunar probe on the south polar region of the moon.
The agency is aiming to put the lander, called Vikram, and the rover, named Pragyan, on the lunar surface by September 7, just a day behind the earlier schedule.
“I am extremely happy to announce that GSLV Mark 3 successfully injected the Chandrayaan 2 into orbit,” ISRO Chairman K Sivan said after the launch, amid cheering from other scientists at the control centre, according to NDTV. “It is the beginning of a historical journey for India. We fixed a serious technical snag and ISRO bounced back with flying colours.”
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. 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.
Earlier, ISRO Chairperson K Sivan had said that there will be no technical snags during Monday’s launch. 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. “It is because of these reasons that Chandrayaan-2 has attracted attention not only from Indian scientists but also global scientists,” Sivan said.