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On Monday 2.43pm India successfully launched the second moon mission Chandrayaan-2 from its most powerful rocket with a plan to land the rover on September 7 in the unexplored lunar south pole, exactly a week after the lift-off was aborted due to a technical snag.
Carrying a "billion dreams" in a giant leap for the country's ambitious low-cost space programme, the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO), if successful, will also make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to pull off a soft landing on the moon. Joined by President Ram Nath Kovind and leaders across the political spectrum, Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the scientists and said every Indian is immensely proud to be a part of the project.
"We bounced back with flying colours after the earlier technical snag. Success is coming after a call-off," said a beaming and visibly relieved ISRO Chairman K Sivan at the mission control room of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 100 km from Chennai, as scientists broke into cheers, shook hands and exchanged greetings. The Rs 978-crore unmanned mission also brought woman power to the fore as it was helmed by two woman scientists of the ISRO--Ritu Karidhal and M Vanitha, the Mission and Project directors respectively.
Sivan said immediately after the technical snag was observed in an "intelligent way" one week back, the entire team swung into action. "The work done in the next 24 hours to bring the vehicle back to normal was mind-boggling." Scientists led by Sivan watched the launch sequence in rapt attention and broke into applause after every key stage of the rocket's flight which progressed precisely as programmed. "It is the beginning of a historical journey of India towards the moon," Sivan said.
The mission was called off on July 15 barely an hour before the planned post-midnight lift-off after scientists noticed a glitch in the three-stage rocket during the propellant filling phase in the indigenous cryogenic engine, a decision that was welcomed as a prudent step by the Indian space fraternity.
The success of Chandrayaan-2 also made global headlines with a leading US newspaper writing "India is on its way to the moon", At 2:43 this afternoon, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III) 'Bahubali' rocket blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. On board was a dream of placing a rover on the Moon. The launch of Chandrayaan-2 comes close on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11, when man first landed on the moon, The Washington Post commented. India has also announced its intention of sending a manned space mission by 2022, the leading American newspaper noted.
India's low-cost, homegrown technology that has powered its space programme is a source of national pride and inspiration, it said. Chandrayaan-2 consists of three components: the orbiter, the lander and the rover. Once Chandrayaan-2 reaches the Moon, the orbiter will enter into an orbit around the satellite. The orbiter will continue revolving around the Moon for a year, performing experiments to study the satellite's outer atmosphere. In the first week of September, the lander - named Vikram - will detach from the orbiter and fly towards the Moon. On or around September 6, Vikram will land near the Moon's south pole, a feat previously not achieved by any other country. The six-wheeled Pragyaan is finally on its way to the Moon. The three-stage GSLV Mk-III rocket succesfully went through all the three stages and succesfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into a lower Earth orbit shortly after launch. The Chandrayaan-2 mission is India's second journey to the Moon and its most ambitious and complex space project yet. In September this year, Chandrayaan-2 will aim to land a rover on the Moon, making India the fourth country in the world to do so.
A successful landing would make India the 4th country to achieve a soft landing on the moon, after the space agencies of the USSR, USA and China.
The New York Times, wrote, "India Launches Chandrayaan-2 Moon Mission on Second Try". The New York Times wrote, "This would be a huge leap forward for India's ambitious space program, and scientists and defense experts everywhere are watching to see whether the country can pull it off." Similarly, CNN said, "Success in India's second attempt at launching moon mission". CNN's report talks about how Isro overcame the technical snag to manage a successful liftoff on Monday afternoon. "The country's latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, which means "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state at 2:43 p.m., Monday local time (5:13 a.m. ET)," wrote CNN's Helen Regan and Manveena Suri.