INDIA scrapped its historic £110million moon mission last night after a “launchpad glitch” less than an hour from liftoff.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission was called off when engineers spotted a “technical snag” at the last minute – and abruptly stopped the countdown at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds.
Chandrayaan-2 stands at Satish Dhawan Space Center after the mission was aborted at the last minute[/caption]
India called off the launch of a moon mission to explore the Lunar South Pole at the last minute[/caption]
It grounded the 640-tonne, 44m-tall rocket – with a revised launch date to be set at a later time.
A spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organisation did not specify what the malfunction was.
The Chandrayaan rocket – the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit – is designed for a soft landing on the lunar south pole.
Boffins back on Earth then plan to deploy a rover from the unmanned spacecraft to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.
PRAYED FOR SUCCESS
Dr K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said last week the $140m (£111m) mission was the nation’s most prestigious to date.
This is because of the technical complexities of soft landing on the lunar surface – an event he described as “15 terrifying minutes.”
Dr Sivan visited two Hindu shrines to pray for the mission’s success as the countdown began on Sunday – before the mission was aborted.
Nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology.
If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the US, Russia and China.
Repeated delays meant India missed the chance to achieve the first soft landing near the lunar south pole.
China’s Chang’e 4 mission landed a lander and rover there last January.
Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight.
The Chandrayaan 2 – Key facts
Weight: 640 tonnes
Height: 44 metres
Cost: $140million (£111m)
Mission objective: Soft landing on Lunar South Pole. Send a rover to explore water deposits in the region
HUNT FOR WATER
India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water.
The Indian Space Research Organization wants its new mission’s rover to further probe the far side of the moon.
Scientists believe a basin contains water-ice that could help humans do more than plant flags on future manned missions.
MOST READ IN WORLD NEWS
The world’s biggest space agencies are returning their gaze to the moon as the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission approaches this month.
Adam Steltzner, NASA’s chief engineer responsible for its 2020 mission to Mars, said: “The moon is sort of our backyard for training to go to Mars.”
The US is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.
An Indian Space Research Organisation spokesman said a ‘technical snag’ grounded the rocket[/caption]
An Indian TV reporter stands next to the countdown clock which stopped at T-56 minutes 24 seconds[/caption]
Crowds leave the viewing platform after the rocket launch was cancelled[/caption]
A model of the rocket is seen after the Chandrayaan-2 mission was aborted at the last minute[/caption]
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