India successfully launches moon mission

Posted July 23, 2019

Aboard the rocket is an orbiter that will circle the moon for about a year taking surface images, and a landing vessel carrying a lunar rover named Vikram.

India's space agency launched an unmanned spacecraft to the far side of the Moon on Monday, a week after aborting the mission due to a technical problem.

The success of Chandrayaan 2 mission makes India the fourth country after the United States, Russia and China to pull off a soft landing on the Moon.

"India can hope to get the first selfies from the lunar surface once the rover gets on its job", Dr K Sivan, the Isro chief, said before the first launch attempt.

Only the former Soviet Union, the U.S. and China have made a soft landing on the Moon's surface before - India will become the fourth country to do so if this mission is successful. Media reports said the launch was aborted after ISRO scientists identified a leak while filling helium in the rocket's cryogenic engine.

Despite what would usually be very expensive setbacks, India's space programme is delivering the Chandrayaan-2 mission at a cut-rate price tag of just $141m.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi monitoring the Chandrayaan-2 launch from New Delhi. ISRO then took the decision for Chandrayaan-2 to be an entirely Indian effort. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was able to achieve this feat despite an extremely narrow launch window of only a few minutes.

To save fuel, India's space agency has chosen a circuitous route to take advantage of the Earth's gravity, which will help slingshot the lander towards the Moon.

The $150 million mission seeks to gather data on water, minerals, seismic activity, composition and thermal characteristics of the moon while also making an unprecedented landing near the lunar south pole.

Chandrayaan-1 operated for 312 days. "GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injects Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into Earth Orbit", said ISRO in another tweet.

Applause broke out in the mission control room as the rocket blasted off into the grey skies over the Indian Ocean and mission control announced that the orbiter had broken away from the rocket with no problem. India's maiden mission, Chandrayaan-1, rewrote lunar geological history by finding traces of water molecules on the Moon's surface.

The lander Vikram will separate from the orbiter and perform a series of complex maneuvers aimed at slowing its approach. "On the D-day, we are going to experience 15 minutes of terror to ensure that landing is safely near the south pole". #Chandrayaan2 is the first mission by #ISRO which is headed by two women - #MuthyvaVanitha and #RituKaridhal. It is also the destination of NASA's 2024 mission to the moon.

Last year, Modi pledged during his Independence Day speech to send India's first manned flight into space by 2022.