India's lunar mission takes off for Moon’s unexplored South Pole
NEW DELHI. KAZINFORM India successfully launched its second Moon mission, dubbed Chandrayaan-2, on Monday, a week after an earlier attempt was called off due to a technical snag, EFE reports.
The launch, telecast live on state broadcaster Doordarshan and streamed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on its website and on social media, was greeted with loud cheers from the scientists as the indigenous Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (in southern India) at 2.43pm local time (9.13 am GMT).
«#GSLVMkIII-M1 lifts-off from Sriharikota carrying #Chandrayaan2,« the space agency tweeted, adding that it would continue to provide updates regarding its progress.
ISRO chief K. Sivan in his address in the control room after the launch said «today is a historical day for space and science and technology in India».
»It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the Moon and land in a place near South Pole and carry out scientific experiments,« he said.
Minutes later, Sivan announced that the vehicle had »successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into Earth orbit before it lands «at a place near (the) south pole to carry out scientific experiments».
The launch was initially scheduled to be held on July 15. However, a technical problem in the launch vehicle caused it to be called off with barely an hour before the takeoff.
Chandrayaan-2 aims to send a rover to the Moon, land and deploy it at the uncharted lunar South Pole - a giant leap with a relatively low-cost budget in the South Asian country's ambitious space program.
The mission includes a lunar orbiter and lander, along with the rover. The lander carries a camera, a seismometer and a thermal instrument.
The lander, named Vikram, is expected to land on Sep 7, or «on the 48th day of the mission, which begins today», ISRO tweeted.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission includes collecting samples from the surface of the Earth satellite, determining its mineral composition and searching for water there.
The rover is designed to explore the lunar surface for about 14 days, traversing a distance of some 500 meters, although the probe will remain in lunar orbit for over a year.
If the mission ultimately comes off and is successful, India will join an elite club of nations - including the United States, Russia and China – which have landed a rover on the Moon's surface.
India's first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, was conducted in 2008 and a follow-up mission was initially expected to be launched soon after that but has taken more than 10 years to come - almost - to fruition.
In 2013-14, India did put a satellite into orbit around Mars, the country's first interplanetary mission.
ISRO had a budget of some $1.32 billion in 2017-18 compared to NASA's $19.5 billion budget for 2019.
Despite its limited resources, ISRO has carved out a name for itself in the global space race with its Moon and Mars missions, as well as its communication satellites and remote sensing technologies, spurring many countries to choose the Indian space agency to launch their satellites.