Launch of Chandrayaan-2, India's second mission to the moon, is not likely to take place before January next year, says a top official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). This is the second time when launch of Chandrayaan-2 has been delayed. It was first supposed to lift-off in the month of April, 2018 but was delayed as a national-level review committee recommended some additional tests. ISRO chairman K. Sivan at that time informed the government about the postponement of the launch to October-November. But reports suggest that it has further delayed and the launch of Chandrayaan-2 will be possible only in 2019.
What is the mission?
Chandrayaan-2 is India's second mission to the moon in which a ISRO will be using the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark 2 (GSLV MKII) to soft land a lander and rover on Moon's surface. The rover weighing 20kg will operate on solar power and have six wheels to move around the landing site. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil.
What is the cause of delay?
Two back-to-back setbacks have forced the ISRO to postpone the ambitious mission which is one of the crucial launches for the space agency. First, the ISRO lost communication with GSAT-6A, a military communication satellite, after its launch earlier this year. Later in September, the PSLV- C39 mission, carrying the IRNSS-1H navigation satellite, failed after the heat shield refused to open and release the satellite. The space agency has already recalled the launch of GSAT-11 from Kourou, French Guiana, for additional technical checks.
Why this mission is important?
Chandrayaan-2, costing nearly Rs. 800 crore, will be made to soft land in high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, in the yet-unexplored South Pole. If successful, it will be the first-ever mission to land a rover near the lunar south pole.
The delay in launch will also give Israel, which recently announced to launch its first spacecraft to the moon by the end of this year, an opportunity to edge past India.