The launch of Chandrayaan 2 was called off due to a technical snag one hour before launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO informed.
The new dates would be announced soon and the detail of the snag was not yet made public.
The powerful GSLV Mark III rocket was set to go up from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 2:51 am with a rover that would land on the moon in about two months’ time.
President Ram Nath Kovind was present at Sri Harikota for the mission as he earlier arrived to witness the launch in person.
The 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft comprising an orbiter, the lander and the rover will now lift off on the 640-tonne GSLV Mark III (nicknamed “Baahubali”), India’s most powerful rocket that’s as high as a 15-storey building, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on another date. This was going to be the Mark III’s third launch.
About 16 minutes after its lift-off from Sriharikota, Chandrayaan 2 was expected to separate from the rocket and orbit the Earth several times before being slung towards the moon – a 3.84 lakh-km journey.
Once the spacecraft reaches the moon 54 days later, it will engage Vikram, a 1.4-tonne lander, which will in turn set the 27-kilogramme rover Pragyan down on a high plain between two craters on the lunar south pole. After touchdown on the moon, the rover is expected to conduct experiments for one Moon day equal to 14 Earth days, primarily to check if the lunar south pole has primordial water reserves.
If India succeeds in this moon mission, it will become the fourth country to soft-land a spacecraft on the lunar surface after the US, Russia and China. Israel had tried earlier this year but failed.
An analysis published by Sputnik International claimed that the approximate $124-million price tag of the Chandrayaan 2 is less than half the budget of Hollywood blockbuster Avengers Endgame ($356 million). The Indian space agency has a budget that’s 20 times less than NASA, its US counterpart.
India’s next big mission will involve sending a human into orbit through Gaganyaan by 2022.