Science & Technology

Chandrayaan 2 launch called off due to technical snag

Isro to tell revised launch date later

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Monday 15 July 2019
The Pragyan Rover mounted on a ramp. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The launch of the much-awaited and ambitious Chandrayaan 2 mission to the Moon was postponed minutes before its launch. The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) announced "a technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle system at T-56 minute." It added that "as a measure of abundant precaution, Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today" and that "the revised launch date will be announced later." 
This is not the first time that Chandrayaan has faced technical snags and delays. The project has been delayed multiple times in the past year. The original launch date was in March 2018 which was later pushed to April and then to October to conduct further tests on the launch vehicle.
Further deliberations by the fourth comprehensive technical review meeting concluded that the mission's components needed changes, especially in configuration and landing sequence. This pushed the launch date to the first half of 2019. In February 2019, the lander craft named Vikram suffered damage in both its legs during a routine test. After this setback Isro reworked its systems and finally fixed July 15 as the launch date.
Chandrayaan is going to take around 20 days to reach the Lunar orbit and stabilise itself. Less than a month after that Vikram will detach itself from the orbiter and attempt a soft landing on the surface of the Moon in its south polar region where no probe has landed before.
After landing, Vikram will release the six-wheeled lunar rover Pragyan, which will conduct experiments on the chemistry, mineralogy and other characteristics of the lunar surface and atmosphere for 14 days. One of the major objectives for Pragyan is the discovery of water molecules and hydroxyl ions on the Moon, which could be a major indication towards the possibility of the existence of life.
The orbiter, on the other hand, will remain functional in orbit for an year and conduct experiments from afar.
Isro did not disclose what the technical snag was or how long it would take to be fixed.
Until the next date is announced, what happens to India's most complex robotic mission to a planetary body till date remains to be seen.

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