Chandrayaan-2 Moon Mission Launched, ISRO Plans Sun Mission for 2020

Aboard the rocket is an orbiter that will circle the moon for about a year taking surface images, and a landing vessel carrying a lunar rover named Vikram.

This is the sequel to Chandrayaan-1, an ISRO mission that launched 11 years ago featuring only a lunar orbiter.

Ahead of the much-awaited historic lift-off, Harshit Harsh from Jagran Tech Desk had an exclusive interview with Dr. Karan Jani, renowned astrophysicist and a scientist with the Nobel Prize-winning gravitational wave experiment LIGO, who gave an insight into India's second lunar mission and explained its importance for the country's space mission.

The unmanned Chandrayaan-2, which means "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, was launched at 2:43 p.m. local time from a tiny barrier island in southeastern India.

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. The landing would be attempted on the 48th day of the mission on September 7, when Lander Vikram would separate from the orbiter and begin what has been hailed as "the most terrifying 15 minutes" of the mission.

The Chandrayaan-2 will perform 15 crucial maneuvers in the days to come, said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Sivan on Sunday.

Just like the protagonist of the film lifted a heavy Lingam in one of its scenes, the rocket will carry the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. And this is India's first attempt at a soft landing on the Moon.

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The rocket will take up an orbiter, a lander and a rover, and has been nearly entirely designed and made in India.

The Reuters news agency calls it India's "most ambitious mission yet to cement its position as a leading low-priced space power", pointing out that only the U.S., Russian Federation and China have had spacecraft on the moon.

Between July 9 and July 16 ISRO had a 10 minute launch every day.

ISRO had successfully completed the launch rehearsal of the Chandrayaan-2 mission on Saturday.

The Cold War-era saw a significant number of moon missions carried out by both the United States and the USSR - a total of 44 successful missions in the period between 1959 to 1978.

"In such an ambitious and prestigious mission like Chandrayaan, one can not take a chance even if a small flaw is detected", Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of space policy at the New Delhi think tank the Observer Research Foundation, told AFP. The mission life of the rover and the lander is 14 Earth days which is half a day on the moon.

According to ISRO, the lunar South Pole is an interesting surface area which remains in shadow than North pole.

  • Sonia Alvarado