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India’s Moon lander mission hits ‘snag’ moments before launch

Published Jul 15th, 2019 6:15PM EDT
india moon mission
Image: ISRO

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The United States and Russia may have paved the way to the Moon, but as technology advances, we’re seeing many more countries launching their own lunar exploration missions. India is one of those countries, and its Chandrayaan-2 mission will attempt to land a spacecraft on Earth’s tiny neighbor, but not yet.

The launch was scheduled to take place in the early morning hours of Sunday but was forced to be called off at the last minute due to some technical difficulties. The issue, which is being described as “a technical snag” was detected just an hour before launch, and the delay will be significant.

“A technical snag was observed in (a) launch vehicle system at one hour before the launch,” the Indian Space Research Organization said in a brief statement via Twitter. “As a measure of abundant precaution, (the) Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.”

As Spaceflight Now reports, India’s space agency has some big plans for the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft once it actually sends it into space. The craft will orbit Earth and gradually push itself into a wider orbit until it eventually escapes Earth’s gravity and can enter orbit around the Moon.

The biggest test of the mission, which will cost an estimated $142 million, will be the eventual touchdown on the near side of the Moon. The lander and its rover companion will study the landing location using a variety of tools, relaying information back to Earth and breaking some records for the Indian space agency in the process.

A successful soft landing on the lunar surface will make India the fourth country to pull off such a feat. The previous three are the Soviet Union, United States, and, more recently, China. Israel would have become the fourth had its lunar lander not crashed into the Moon earlier this year, but that accident has opened the door for India to make its mark as the fourth Moon nation to nail its own lunar landing.