India moon mission leaves planet earth
India’s space agency has launched its spacecraft to the south pole of the moon after a recent mission was aborted.
The spacecraft is carrying an orbiter, a lander and a rover that will move around on the lunar surface for 14 earth days.
It will take about 47 days to travel before landing on the moon in September.
The previous mission was called off less than an hour before lift-off of the 640-ton, 14-storey rocket launcher on Monday June 15th.
Chandrayaan, the Sanskrit word for “moon craft”, is designed to make a soft landing on the lunar south pole and send a rover to explore water deposits that were confirmed by a previous orbiting Indian space mission.
Dr K Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said the £110 million Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s most prestigious to date. Part of the reason is because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface. An event he described as “15 terrifying minutes”.
Prime minister Narendra Modi said India’s lunar programme will get a substantial boost, writing on Twitter that the country’s existing knowledge of the moon “will be significantly enhanced”.
K. Sivan, head of India’s space agency, said at a news conference that the successful launch of the spacecraft was the “beginning of India’s historic journey” to the moon.
A soft landing would make India only the fourth country to do so after the US, Russia and China.
India’s economic progress has made its space program more visible and active as the country aims for greater self-reliance in space technology. In 2008, India launched as many as eleven satellites, including nine from other countries and went on to become the first nation to launch ten satellites on one rocket.
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