India has canceled the launch of a spacecraft shortly before it was supposed to leave Earth on a trip to the moon.
India’s space agency said it delayed the launch of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft early Monday after a “technical snag” was observed. It reported in a message on Twitter the decision was made one hour before the planned lift-off as a safety measure.
The agency’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle is to lift the Chandrayaan-2 into space.
Vivek Singh is the media director for the Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO. He said experts were examining the technical issue. He added that a new launch date would be announced later.
Chandrayaan is the Sanskrit word for “moon vehicle.” The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is designed to make a “soft,” or controlled, landing on the moon’s South Pole.
The spacecraft is carrying both a moon lander and robotic rover. ISRO expects the rover to operate on the moon’s surface for 14 days. It will carry out experiments and search for signs of water.
K. Sivan is head of the ISRO. He said last week the Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s most complex space project yet. This is partly because of the difficulties of completing a soft landing on the lunar surface. The agency said that India has spent about $140 million on the Chandrayaan-2 mission.
If the spacecraft does successfully complete a soft landing, it would be only the fourth country to do so after the United States, Russia and China.
India deployed an unmanned spacecraft in an orbit around the moon in 2008. That mission helped confirm the presence of water on the lunar surface.
A soft landing on the Moon would be a major step for India's space program. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to launch a crewed space mission by the year 2022. India says it also plans to put a space station in Earth’s orbit and launch a robotic mission to Mars.
The Indian mission would be the third attempted moon landing this year. In January, China successful landed a spacecraft on the far side of the moon. In April, an Israeli spacecraft attempted to land on the moon, but crashed shortly before reaching its target.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Words in This Story
mission – n. an important task, usually involving travel
snag – n. problem or difficulty
rover – n. a space exploration vehicle designed to move across the surface of the moon or another distant object