The control room of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) errupted in celebration on Monday as the country launched its second space mission.
The second lunar mission was scheduled to take off on July 15 but was stopped 56 minutes before launch after a “technical snag was observed in [the] launch vehicle system”.
The Indian media reported that a leak from a helium gas bottle in the cryogenic engine of the rocket was to blame for the hitch.
With the successful launch on Monday, India is on the way to becoming the fourth nation to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface after the United States, China and the former Soviet Union.
According to BBC, this mission is the most complex ever attempted by the Indian state agency and cost the country $150m (£120m). It is also believed to be the first to land on the Moon’s south pole.
The Chief of ISRO, K Sivan, before the launching, said “India can hope to get the first selfies from the lunar surface once the rover gets on its job.”
India’s first lunar mission with her Chandrayaan-1 (moon vehicle) was in 2008. However, it did not land on the lunar surface, but carried out the first and most detailed search for water on the Moon using radars.
Chandrayaan-2 (Moon vehicle 2) has been programmed to explore the south pole of the Moon with its focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moon-quakes, among other things.
Details of the rocket
According to the report, the mission was launched with India’s most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk-III). It weighs 640 tonnes (almost 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet) and at 44 metres (144ft) is as high as a 14-storey building, while the spacecraft with three distinct parts (an orbiter, a lander and a rover) weighs 2.379kg (5.244lb).
The orbiter, which has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface.
The launch is only the beginning of a 384,000km (239,000-mile) journey – Isro is still hoping the lander will touch down on the Moon on September 6 or 7 as planned, despite the week-long delay of the launch.
Women leading the pack
For the first time in the history of the India space agency, with well over 1000 engineers and scientists on the mission, women have been chosen to lead such a record breaking expedition.
Muthaya Vanitha is the programme director and has nurtured the project over the years. Chandrayaan-2 will be navigated by Ritu Karidhal. These are two women steering India’s journey to the Moon.