India sends unmanned mission to probe moon's far side

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 22.07.2019 12:39
Updated 22.07.2019 15:13
India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III-M1 blasts off carrying Chandrayaan-2, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, India, July 22, 2019. (Reuters Photo)
India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III-M1 blasts off carrying Chandrayaan-2, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, India, July 22, 2019. (Reuters Photo)

India launched a rocket into space on Monday to perform a soft landing of a rover on the moon, the country's most ambitious mission yet to cement its position as a leading low-cost space power.

The 10-billion rupee ($146 million) mission, if successful, will enable India to carry out studies on the presence of water on the south pole of the moon. Only the United States, Russia and China have been on the moon.

The rocket, carrying the unmanned Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, blasted off from a southern Indian space center to cheers from thousands of onlookers, a live telecast showed.

Chandrayaan, the Sanskrit word for "moon craft," is designed to land on the lunar south pole and send a rover to explore water deposits that were confirmed by a previous mission that orbited the moon.

India's launch a week ago was called off less than an hour before liftoff due to a "technical snag."

Indian media reports said the launch was aborted after ISRO scientists identified a leak while filling helium in the cryogenic engine of the rocket. The ISRO neither confirmed nor denied the reports, saying instead that the problem had been identified and corrected.

The spacecraft carries an orbiter, a lander and a rover which will move around on the lunar surface for 14 earth days. It will take around 47 days to travel and land on the moon in September.

India's Chandrayaan-1 mission orbited the moon in 2008 and helped confirm the presence of water.

India plans to send its first manned spaceflight by 2022.

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