India aimed at taking a giant leap in its space programme. The country is all set to launch its second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2 onboard its heavy-lift rocket GSLV-MkIII, nicknamed Baahubali. Monday from Satish Dhawan Space centre it will start its journey, to land a rover near the unexplored Lunar Southern Pole.
The lift-off of the three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising an orbiter, the career and the rover has been scheduled for 2.51 AM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) here.
Eleven years after its successful first Lunar mission, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will launch the Rs 978 crore Chandrayan-2 onboard Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle GSLV-MkIII on a voyage which will then take 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 Monday and scientists were involved in propellant filling, ISRO officials said.
"The launch countdown of GSLV-MkIII-M1/Chandrayaan-2 commenced today (Monday) at 0651 hrs IST," ISRO said in its latest update Sunday.
It is the most complex and prestigious mission ever undertaken by the ISRO since its inception, Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country to soft land on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.
Indicating the challenges involved in soft landing, which will feature a series of critical maneuvers by scientists, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said they will undergo about "15 minutes of terror (filled moments)."
"Chandrayaan-2 is the next leap in technology as we attempt to soft land close to South Pole of Moon. The soft landing is extremely complex and we will experience approximately 15 minutes of terror," he said
ISRO, which has planned for the landing around September 6, said the mission aims at going where no other nation has so far forayed - the Lunar South Pole and seek to improve understanding of the Moon which could lead to discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole.
The Chandrayaan-2 has 13 payloads in total with eight of them in the orbiter, three payloads in Vikram and two in Pragyan. Five payloads are from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria.