India has now decided July the 22nd 2019 as the launch date of its first moon lander and rover after a weeklong delay due to a technical issue in Chandrayaan-2.
The Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 will launch at 2:43 p.m. IST or 09:13 a.m. GMT on Monday from the agency’s Satish Dhawan Space Center on the island of Sriharikota about 80 kilometers north of Chennai.
India initially tried to launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission Sunday July the 14th, using its powerful Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III-M1 rocket, but ISRO called off the attempt due to some technical problem an hour before liftoff. The technical issue was reportedly related to a helium pressurization system on the rocket’s cryogenic stage, according to the Indian Space Agency.
ISRO officials convened a committee to investigate and fix the glitch, and that group has apparently wrapped up its work.
“The expert committee identified the root cause of the technical snag and all corrective actions are implemented,” ISRO officials said while updating current scenario. “Thereafter, the system performance is normal.”
The $142 million Chandrayaan-2 mission is the successor to India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched in 2008 and helped discover the presence of water molecules on the moon. But where Chandrayaan-1 was a single spacecraft, Chandrayaan-2 is made up of three vehicles, an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a small rover called Pragyan.
After the success of Chandrayaan-2 mission, India will become the first country ever to land at the south pole of the moon, as well as the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar surface. Only NASA, Russia (as the former Soviet Union) and China have achieved the feat. A private Israeli spacecraft crashed on the moon during a failed landing attempt earlier this year in April.
According to its flight plan, Chandrayaan-2 will slowly make its way to the moon over several weeks, then release the Vikram lander to touch down near the south pole of the moon on September 6th. The Pragyan rover, tucked aboard Vikram, will then deploy and begin exploring the lunar south pole.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is designed to spend about a year studying the moon from orbit, scanning for water ice in the shadowed regions of the lunar south pole. The solar-powered Vikram lander and Pragyan rover will spend about one lunar day (the equivalent of 14 Earth days) studying the moon’s surface up close.
India’s Chandrayaan-2 launch comes as NASA (and space fans around the world) celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on July 20, 1969.