Chandrayaan 2: Countdown begins for ISRO's moon mission, launch at 2.43 pm tomorrow

Chandrayaan 2: Countdown begins for ISRO's moon mission, launch at 2.43 pm tomorrow

The countdown has begun for a second attempt by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch Chandrayaan-2 on Monday, days after a “technical snag” forced the space agency to postpone its second Moon mission.

At 2.43 pm (IST) on Monday, ISRO will launch the first mission to land on the moon onboard its most powerful rocket GSLV Mk-III. If the mission succeeds, India will become only the fourth nation to land a rover on the lunar surface. The other three nations include the United States, Russia, and China.

“The launch countdown of GSLVMkIII-M1/Chandrayaan2 commenced today at 18.43 Hrs (IST). The launch is scheduled at 14.43 Hrs (IST) on July 22nd,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) tweeted.

Last week, a sudden drop in pressure in one of the tanks containing helium gas on the GSLV Mk-III rocket forced ISRO to abort the Chandrayaan-2 moon mission, just under an hour before liftoff. The space agency has said its expert committee had identified the problem and applied corrective measures, and that the system was now functioning normally.

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Though the launch date has been delayed by seven days, there is no change in the date of the moon lander and rover module missions, which will happen on September 6. After its original launch, Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to spend 17 days in Earth orbit, and another 28 days in lunar orbit, before the lander and rover modules were supposed to separate from the main spacecraft and prepare for landing on September 6.

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The lander will land near the South Pole of the Moon and carry out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of one lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days. ISRO says that the orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.

The GSLV-MkIII is the most powerful rocket built by ISRO and is designed to carry heavier payloads, weighing up to 4,000 kg, into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), at least 35,000 km from Earth. It is supposed to be the rocket for the future.

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Chandrayaan-2, which has an orbiter, lander and rover component, was originally scheduled to be launched as early as in 2010 or 2011, immediately after the 2008 Chandrayaan-1 mission. But at that time, it was supposed to be a joint India-Russia mission. The planned mission could not take off because of design flaws detected in the Russian lander and rover.