India has successfully launched a mission to soft land a rover on the moon, in a landmark moment for a nation trying to become a space superpower.
The country's latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, which means "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh at 2.43pm, Monday local time (5:13 am ET).
The launch was originally scheduled for July 15, but was abruptly called off just 56 minutes before lift-off due to a "technical snag."
With this successful launch, India is all set to become only the fourth country in the world to soft land on the moon. One of the other three countries, the US, also acknowledged the Indian Space Research Organisation's achievement, said Indian media reports.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) not just congratulated their Indian counterpart, but also promised full support in its mission. The agency also expressed its eagerness to know what Chandrayaan-2 will study about the yet unexplored lunar South Pole, something it will be keen on using for their Artemis mission.
A few hours after Chandrayaan-2 launch created a celebratory atmosphere across the country, the official Twitter handle of the Nasa posted, “Congrats to @ISRO on the launch of Chandrayaan 2, a mission to study the Moon. We're proud to support your mission comms using our Deep Space Network and look forward to what you learn about the lunar South pole where we will send astronauts on our #Artemis mission in a few years.”
The average distance between the Earth and the Moon is 3, 84,000 km. Vikram lander will land on Moon on the 48th day of the mission starting from Monday approximately on September 9.
This moon-lander and rover mission proves that India is taking lead in space exploration as its mission aims to investigate the unexplored south pole of the moon. With Chandrayaan-2 India aims at the soft landing on the Moon. If successful, it will be the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to do so, said the report.
Celebrating the successful launch of India's lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced the successful injection of its indigenous GSLV MK-III rocket- 'Bahubali' into the Earth Orbit.
The next month and a half will see the spacecraft perform crucial manoeuvres to ensure a smooth landing, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said, as the agency's officials congratulated each other with handshakes and bear hugs after the launch.
"We are going to experience 15 minutes of terror, to ensure that the landing is done safely near the south pole," he told reporters, describing the final moments before the craft is expected to land on the moon, about 47 days from now.
The space agency has previously said the descent on the moon could be complex, with potential problems from variations in lunar gravity, terrain and dust having to be taken into account.
Globally, Chandrayaan-2 will be the year's third bid at a moon landing, following China's successful launch of a lunar probe and the Israeli Beresheet spacecraft, which failed and crashed on the moon in April.
India's space agency suspects the south pole region of the moon contains water in the form of ice as well as craters that could reveal fossilized information about the early solar system.