India reschedules launch of its moon mission for Monday

India reschedules launch of its moon mission for Monday

India reschedules launch of its moon mission for Monday

GSLV MkIII at the launch pad at Sriharikota.

The launch of India's ambitious Moon mission - Chandrayaan-2 - which was called off barely an hour before its scheduled launch on 15 July, will now take off at 2:43 pm (IST) on 22 July, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) announced today. The rocket's lift-off has been moved from pre-dawn to mid-afternoon in order to match the Moon's drift away from the earth between July 15 and July 22, scientists added. Though it was said to be sent only in next month September, ISRO is sending Chanrayan II earlier.

"There is no change in the landing date as of now".

On July 15, amidst an air of expectancy at Srikarikota where even the President of India was present, ISRO called off the launch just 56 minutes ahead of the due date. After this the orbiter will travel around the moon in a 100x100km orbit before the lander and rover will attempt a soft landing near the South Pole between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N on day 54.

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It is crucial for ISRO to land on September 6 to maximise data collection by instruments on the lander and rover. Also, the number of days Vikram needs to go around Moon in a 30kmX100km orbit before initiating deboosting procedures for landing will also be the same as planned initially-four days.

The latest mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things. In the process it makes use of Earth's gravity to build up power and saves some fuel. "This was key to keep time for a relaunch and still carry out the mission without too many changes in the profile and software", a source said. Chandrayaan-1, for example, had taken 12 days to reach the lunar orbit.

An Indian GSLV Mark III-M1 rocket carrying the country's Chandrayaan-2 moon orbiter, lander and rover stands atop its launchpad on Sriharikota Island awaiting launch.

ISRO has so far refused to reveal the nature or extent of the technical problem that caused last Monday's launch to be aborted. An expert committee was constituted to analyse the issue and suggest remedial action.

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