India has successfully launched a moon mission today, the aim is to soft land a rover on the moon – a time of reference for a nation that is trying to become a space superpower. The moon mission is called Chandrayaan-2, meaning ”moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, and it took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 2:43 Monday local time (5:13 am ET).
The launch was initially scheduled for July 15 but was canceled just 56 minutes before lift-off due to a technical problem. Chandrayaan-2 weighing 3.8 tonnes and carrying 13 payloads has three elements: lunar orbiter, lander, and rover. It will ride for two months before positioning into a circular orbit 62 miles above the surface of the moon.
India will now become the fourth country to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface, next to the United States, China, and the former Soviet Union.
Speaking at a press conference soon after the launch, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO chairman stated the task was possible thanks to the “hard work by Team ISRO”: “They worked continuously, forgot about their families, sacrificing their interests… in a non-stop mode, they worked to ensure that the snag was fixed properly.”
Also, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to congratulate the team saying: “Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history! The launch of #Chandrayaan2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science. Every Indian is immensely proud today!”
Moreover, the launch coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, also other space agencies are revisiting the idea of sending humans to the moon and beyond, while NASA wishes to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024.