India’s space agency at 6.45 pm Sunday began the countdown to launch its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, a week after calling off the event due to a “technical snag”.
Chandrayaan-2 will be launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII, India's most powerful rocket. It will carry an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a rover called Pragyan, which has been almost entirely designed and made in India.
The orbiter is planned to circle the Moon for about one year, imaging the surface and studying the atmosphere.
The rocket is scheduled to liftoff at 2:43 pm IST on Monday, July 22, 2019 from the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota off the coast of Andhra Pradesh.
GSLV-Mk III--nicknamed Bahubali-- will carry the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2. After 16-minutes into its flight, the rocket will sling Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit for moon. From there Chandrayaan-2 will travel for nearly 3.844 lakh km carrying the lander and orbiter.
Isro said rehearsal for the launch went about normally on Saturday. During the countdown, the rocket will undergo checks and take in fuel.
India successfully carried out its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, nearly 11 years ago. The less-than Rs 1000 crore mission, if successful, would boost India’s aspirations to catch up with global space leaders United States and China and put it in a better position to compete in the commercial space market.
A success would make India only the fourth country behind the United States, Russia and China to perform a “soft”, or controlled, landing on the moon and put a rover on it.
India’s mission comes 50 years after Neil Armstrong became the first person to step foot on the Moon, an occasion celebrated globally on Saturday.
(With inputs from agencies)