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Chandrayaan-2 launch called off due to technical glitch; ISRO to announce new launch date

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India's GSLVMkIII-M1 vehicle carrying the three-component Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was scheduled to lift off at 2.51 am (0251 IST) from Sriharikota on Monday. Photo: ISRO/Twitter

SRIHARIKOTA (PTI): Less than an hour before lift off, India's second mission to Moon, Chandrayaan-2 onboard GSLVMkIII-M1 was on Monday called off due to a technical snag, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

The countdown to the launch scheduled for 2.51 am (0251 IST) was stopped 56 minutes and 24 seconds before lift off at 1.55 am (0155 IST) following the announcement from the Mission Control Centre.

Confusion prevailed for several minutes before ISRO came out with an official confirmation about the launch being cancelled.

"A technical snag was observed in the launch vehicle system at t-minus 56 minutes. As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today," ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations), B R Guruprasad said.

"Revised launch date will be announced later," he added.

Another ISRO official said: "Launch is called off due to technical snag. It is not possible to make the launch within the (launch) window. (A new) launch schedule will be announced later."

The space agency had earlier scheduled the launch in the first week of January but shifted it to July 15.

The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, a lander and a rover was scheduled from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

President Ram Nath Kovind was in Sriharikota to witness the launch.

The Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to explore the uncharted lunar South Pole, 11 years after ISRO's successful first lunar mission – Chandrayaan-1, which made more than 3,400 orbits around the Moon and was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.

The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 onboard the heavy-lift rocket Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle GSLV-MkIII-M1, nicknamed Baahubali, would have taken 54 days to accomplish the task of landing on the Moon through meticulously planned orbital phases.

After a full dress rehearsal last week, the countdown for the mission commenced at 6.51 am (0651 IST) on Sunday and scientists had undergone various stages of propellant filling to power the rocket ahead of the launch.

Billed as the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by the ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2 would make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.

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