India scrubs Moon mission launch one hour before liftoff

  • News Digest
- Agencies, SRIHARIKOTA (India)

Jul 16, 2019-

India on Monday postponed the launch of a lunar probe less than an hour before blast-off because of a technical problem, delaying its bid to become only the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon.

The Chandrayaan-2—or Moon Chariot 2—mission is part of India’s ambitious space programme, and its success would have propelled the South Asian nation into rarefied company: Russia, the United States and China are the only countries to have landed craft on the lunar surface.

The spacecraft looked set for launch atop a Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III—India’s most powerful rocket—from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, but countdown was halted 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the planned liftoff at 2:51 am (2121 GMT Sunday).

“A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at one hour before the launch,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

“As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.”

The agency did not say when it would attempt the launch again, and did not share any details about the technical issue.

The spacecraft’s Moon landing had originally been scheduled for September 6. Scores of enthusiasts, including schoolchildren, had gathered to witness the launch. “We do not know what happened... We are disappointed. I hope they rectify whatever the issue is,” one of the spectators was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.

India has spent about $140 million on Chandrayaan-2—designing and building almost all of its components domestically—and hailed the mission as one of the cheapest ever.

Published: 16-07-2019 11:08

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