Editorial: Over the moon

India has successfully launched its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, on board its powerful rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 from the spaceport in Sriharikota to explore the unchartered south pole of the celestial body by landing a rover. After a smooth 20-hour countdown, GSLV MkIII-M1 majestically lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at 2.43 pm and about 16 minutes 14 seconds later, the vehicle injected the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an elliptical earth orbit. Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru, successfully took control of the spacecraft.

Addressing scientists after the launch, ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan congratulated the launch vehicle and satellite teams involved in this challenging mission. “Today is a historical day for Space, Science and Technology in India. I am extremely happy to announce that GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit of 6000 km more than the intended orbit and is better,” he said. “Today is the beginning of the historical journey of India towards Moon and to land at a place near south pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored,” he added. President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union ministers and the chief ministers of several States, including Tamilnadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswami, have congratulated ISRO for the successful launch of Chandrayaan-2.

The launch of Chandrayaan-2 illustrates the prowess of Indian scientists and the determination of 130 crore countrymen to scale new frontiers of science, Modi said. In a series of tweets, he said every Indian is immensely proud. Referring to the indigenous systems used in Chandrayaan-2, he said the mission is ‘Indian at heart, Indian in spirit!’

“Efforts such as Chandrayaan-2 will further encourage our bright youngsters towards science, top quality research and innovation,” the PM said. He added: “Thanks to Chandrayaan, India’s lunar programme will get a substantial boost. Our existing knowledge of the moon will be significantly enhanced.” On the importance of Chandrayaan-2, Modi said the mission is unique because it will explore and perform studies on the south pole region of lunar terrain which has not been explored and sampled by “any past mission”. The entire nation is proud of ISRO, for Chandrayaan-2 has carried a billion dreams to the moon.

NT Bureau