ISRO calls off Chandrayaan-2 launch due to technical snag

Sriharikota: Space enthusiasts from across the globe and spectators at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota were disappointed as India’s second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan – 2 onboard GSLV MkIII-M1 was Monday called off due to a technical snag.

The countdown for the launch scheduled for 2.51 am was stopped 56 minutes and 24 seconds before lift-off at 1.55 am following the announcement from the Mission Control Centre.

Confusion prevailed for several minutes before ISRO came out with an official confirmation about the launch being cancelled.

“A technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle system at t-minus 56 minutes. As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan – 2 launch has been called off for today,” ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations), B R Guruprasad said.

“Revised launch date will be announced later,” he added.

Another ISRO official said: “Launch is called off due to technical snag. It is not possible to make the launch within the (launch) window. (A new) launch schedule will be announced later.”

The space agency had earlier scheduled the launch in the first week of January but shifted it to 15 July.
Soon after the official announcement about the cancellation of the launch was made, spectators who were present at the SDSC dispersed in disappointment.

The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover was scheduled from the SDSC here.

President Ram Nath Kovind was in Sriharikota to witness the launch. Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to explore the uncharted lunar south pole, 11 years after ISRO’s successful first lunar mission – Chandrayaan – 1, which made more than 3,400 orbits around the moon and was operational for 312 days till 29 August 2009.

The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan – 2 onboard the heavy-lift rocket Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII-M1, nicknamed Baahubali, would have taken 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.

After a full dress rehearsal last week, the countdown for the mission began 6.51 am Sunday and scientists had undergone various stages of propellant filling to power the rocket ahead of the launch.  Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by ISRO since its  inception,  Chandrayaan – 2 would make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.

NT Bureau