Chandrayaan-2, which will set in place India’s bid to return to the moon, took off on Monday at 2:43pm from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Indian space agency's heavy lift rocket, the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle-mark III (GSLV-Mk III), carried the 3,850kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft towards the moon.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had delayed the initial launch on the 14th of July 2019, the anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch, due to a leak in the helium tank. This issue was detected when there was a sudden drop in pressure in the tank.
Speaking after the launch, ISRO chief, K Sivan, says, "I am extremely happy to announce that the GSLVMkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan2 spacecraft into Earth Orbit. It is the beginning of a historic journey of India towards moon and to land at a place near South Pole to carry out scientific experiments."
Chandrayaan, which is 'moon-craft' in Sanskrit, is heading to the south-pole, on the dark side of the moon. It is carrying a lander - 'Vikram', an orbiter, and a rover - 'Pragyan'.
Indian space agency has named the lander in memory of country's space pioneer Vikram Sarabhai while the rover's name means wisdom in Sanskrit.
The 43.4 metre tall, 640-tonne rocket, nicknamed 'Bahubali' for, as the hero in the successful film lifts a heavy lingam, it carries the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2, which will carry out India's second mission to its closest celestial neighbour.
Over 7,500 people had registered to watch the launch of Chandrayaan - 2.
According to the ISRO, on the day of landing—estimated on 7th September, the lander Vikram will separate from the Orbiter and then perform a series of complex manoeuvres comprising rough braking and fine braking.
The separation will come five days after the orbiter enters the lunar orbit. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones.
The Vikram is expected to soft-land from a height of 100km from the Moon's surface near its South Pole and carry out three scientific experiments.
Subsequently, the six-wheeled rover Pragyan will roll out and carry out two experiments on lunar surface for a period of one lunar day which is equal to 14 Earth days.
The Orbiter with eight scientific experiments will continue its mission for a duration of one year. It will be orbiting in 100kmx100km lunar orbit.
The mission also has one passive experiment from the US space agency NASA. The Indian space agency said the mission will also try to unravel the origins of the Moon.
Both the lander as well as the rover will have the Indian national flag painted on them, while the Ashoka Chakra will be imprinted on the rover's wheels.
The success of Chandrayaan-2 mission will make India the fourth country in the world to land a vehicle and travel on the Moon surface after the US, Russia and China.
The launch on Monday, as well as on 14th July, was on a GSLV Mk-III, with a capacity to carry four ton satellite, is a three stage or engine rocket with two strap-on motors powered by solid fuel. The second stage is a core liquid fuel booster and the third is the cryogenic engine.
"The GSLV performance has been improved by 15%, allowing the satellite more fuel for manoeuvres. Three satellites have been launched, with two separate systems," Mr Sivan added.
To date ISRO has sent up three GSLV-Mk III rockets. The first one was on 18.12.2014 carrying crew module atmospheric re-entry experiment (3.7 tonne). The mission was also to test the rocket's inflight structural stability.
The second and third GSLV-Mk III's went up on 5.6.2017 and 14 November 2018 carrying communication satellites GSAT-19 (3.1 tonne) and GSAT-29 (3.4 tonne), respectively.
Interestingly, GSLV-Mk III will be used for India's manned space mission slated in 2022. The Rs978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission is a prestigious one as it aims to make India as the fourth nation in the world to land and ride on the moon.
This is one of the most prestigious launches in Indian, and world history, as it will make India one of the few space agencies to achieve this level of development in space technology.