India aborts the launch of the lunar mission complaining about technical problems.


India’s space agency is investigating the technical hook that led to the abort of the launch of a spaceship on Monday that was to land on the other side of the moon, an official said.

The Chandrayaan 2 mission was cancelled by the Indian Space Research Organization shortly before launch early Monday, when a “technical hook” was observed in the 640-ton, 14-storey rocket launcher.

Vivek Singh, ISRO’s media director, said the company should be able to choose a new launch date within days. He refused to go into details.

Chandrayaan, the Sanskrit word for “moon boat”, is intended for a soft landing on the moon’s south pole and the deployment of a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

Pallava Bagla, science editor of New Delhi Television, said that launch windows must meet several technical criteria and it could take weeks or months for a new date to be set.

He also said on his channel that the rocket and the satellite were safe, and the highly flammable liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen had been removed from the rocket.

The full details of what went wrong will be available when scientists can access the rocket and after a full analysis, he said.

Dr. K. Sivan, ISRO chairman, said last week that the $140 million Chandrayaan 2 mission was the nation’s most prestigious so far, also because of the technical complexity of the soft landing on the lunar surface – an event he called “15 terrible minutes”.

If India created the soft landing, it would be only the fourth country to do so, after the US, Russia and China.


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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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