India suspends moon mission launch shortly before takeoff

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DW – A “technical snag” led mission control to abort the launch at the southern spaceport of Sriharikota. India wants to become the fourth country to successfully complete a controlled landing on the moon.

India’s space agency aborted the launch of its second moon mission less than an hour before liftoff early on Monday due to a “technical snag” in the launch vehicle.

“As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) wrote on Twitter. “Revised launch date will be announced later.”

The agency provided no additional details. It had planned to fire up the Chandrayaan-2, Sanskrit for “Moon vehicle,” at the southern launch site of Sriharikota at 2:51 a.m. (2121 UTC).

ISRO Chairman K Sivan said prior to the launch that the mission could start on Tuesday if there was any delay on Monday.

The spacecraft is scheduled to conduct a soft landing on the far side of the moon in early September and deploy a rover to examine water deposits there. The Chandrayaan-1 mission had confirmed the presence of the deposits in 2008.

New space race

If the 10 billion rupee ($146 million, €129 million) Chandrayaan-2 mission is successful, India will join the United States, China and Russia as the only countries to have successfully conducted a controlled landing on the moon.

The attempt comes after China landed an unmanned probe in the Moon’s south polar region in January and the crash landing of an Israeli spacecraft on the Moon’s surface in April.

India’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has pushed the country to show off its space-faring technology. The vast majority of the Chandrayaan-2’s components were designed and manufactured in India.

The ISRO is planning its first manned space mission by the end of 2022. Modi has demanded that the agency also send an astronaut to the moon by the end of that year.

amp/se (Reuters, dpa, AP)

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