NEW DELHI – Shortly before launching on Monday, India ended its much anticipated second lunar mission, citing a technical hook to counter the country's growing ambitions in space.
The countdown clock for the Chandrayaan 2 mission, which was to be fired at 2:51 am local time from the east coast of the country, was halted, leaving 56 minutes and 24 seconds to run.
The Indian Space Exploration Organization, which wanted to broadcast the event live to online viewers, stated in a tweet that a problem has been identified in the carrier missile system and the mission has been postponed by officials "as a measure of the abundance precautionary measure. " A new appointment is expected to be announced soon.
The breaking off is a blow to India's desire to expand its capabilities in space. With Chandrayaan-2, India hoped to be the fourth nation to land softly on the lunar surface, alongside the US, Russia and China.
India's past achievements in space are due to low-cost, domestic technologies that have contributed to breakthroughs such as the discovery of water on the lunar surface. The space program, which generates national pride, has enabled the country to develop more accurate weather forecasts and improve the navigation systems for its rockets. Many Indians responded to the agency's tweet on Monday with support messages.
President Ram Nath Kovind was present at the planned launch at the Sriharikota Space Center north of the city of Chennai.
Pallava Bagla, scientific editor of the news channel NDTV, reported that the fault was apparently in the cryogenic engine phase – the final phase of the launcher.
"Even if it were postponed for a year, it would not make much difference," he said, adding that until then, no other mission would be able to reach the targeted lunar region. "It's rocket science, after all."
The space agency did not respond to requests for comments. K. Sivan, his boss, had previously suggested that the mission would have been India's most complex so far. Chandrayaan-2 consisted of an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, and was to be fired by the country's most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, Mark III. At a height of 44 meters, it weighs over 640 tons, about 1.5 times a fully loaded Boeing 747 jet.
A former official of the Indian Defense Research Organization, Ravi Gupta, told the local news agency ANI that the countdown to the "right time" was broken off before a major mishap happened.
Chaitanya Giri, a Companion of Space and the Ocean The study program of the Mumbai-based think tank Gateway House called Chandrayaan-2 a "groundbreaking mission for human habitation beyond the earth." If successful, India would be the first country to land on the South Pole of the Moon.
The mission, which costs $ 141 million, is well below NASA's $ 25 billion spend on its Apollo program in the 1960s and 1970s. India has increased its space budget this year to $ 1.8 billion, but it remains a fraction of what the US spends.
"It is said that the sky is the limit, it was appropriate, but now India is making a leap forward to reach space," Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently said on the margins of the group of 20 in Japan
In March, Modi announced that India, along with the US, China, and Russia, had acquired the ability to rocket a low-orbit satellite.
] Last year, the Prime Minister promised that India would send a manned mission into space by 2022. Rakesh Sharma, the only Indian who was in space, was part of a Russian mission in 1984.