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Technical Glitch Spoils Launch of Indian Lunar Mission

The Indian space agency will announce a new launch date for Chandrayaan-II in the coming weeks.

A view of the moon from India. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/muffinn from Worcester, UK)
A view of the moon from India. (Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons/muffinn from Worcester, UK)

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on Monday called off the launch of the second Indian mission to the moon due to a technical snag. In a post on the social networking website Twitter, ISRO said that a revised launch date for the mission named Chandrayaan-II would be announced later.

The launch was postponed around fifty-six minutes before take-off as a measure of abundant precaution after a fault was noticed in the launch vehicle system during a routine check. Since the next available launch window is July 16, it appears highly improbable that ISRO will be able to fix the snag in time to avail it.

The ISRO announcement came just a few minutes after the agency said on Twitter that the filling of the liquid hydrogen for the cryogenic stage of the rocket had successfully been completed. The Chandrayaan-II mission is launching aboard a powerful Indian rocket named the Geo-Synchronous Launch Vehicle MK-III.

The GSLV-MK-III will carry the orbiter, lander, and rover for the lunar mission. The launch vehicle is powered by three stages of propulsion, with the third stage being cryogenic. Cryogenic engines make use of liquid fuel for rocket propulsion. The mission was expected to touch down on the south side of the moon in the first week of September.

ISRO has spent close to $150 million for the lunar mission. The first Indian mission to the moon, named Chandrayaan-I, was an orbiter mission and cost just $56 million. It was instrumental in the discovery of water on the lunar surface. With Chandrayaan-II, India wants to be only the fourth country in the world after China, Russia, and the United States to land on the moon.

Chandrayaan-II will search for traces of life on the lunar surface and is also carrying fourteen other experimental payloads designed for different scientific purposes. The lander and the rover for the mission will gather data on the moon for two weeks, while the orbiter is expected to circle the moon for at least a year.

Usman Kabir covers science, space, and technology for Globely News. As a kid, he would make models of the solar system and take part in water rocket competitions. His childhood obsession has led him to a degree in Space Science. Usman likes to spend his free time watching reruns of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Seinfeld."

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