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India delays moon mission an hour before launch

By
Darryl Coote
Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon was called off with less than an hour before launch. Photo courtesy of Indian Space Research Organisation/Website
Chandrayaan-2 mission to the moon was called off with less than an hour before launch. Photo courtesy of Indian Space Research Organisation/Website

July 15 (UPI) -- Less than an hour before India was to launch a rover to the moon, the mission was called off due to a "technical snag," India's space agency said Monday.

India was aiming to become just the fourth nation to make a soft landing on the moon before it called off the mission, titled Chandrayaan-2, with some 56 minutes before its 2:30 a.m. launch.

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"As a measure of abundant precaution, Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off for today," the Indian Space Research Organisation said via Twitter. "Revised launch date will be announced later."

No other specifics were provided.

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The announcement of the aborted mission comes as a surprise as the agency promoted live streaming of the event saying "one hour to go!" while frequently updating its website of the various launch stages it had completed not long before the mission was called off.

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The spacecraft was to take two months to reach the moon before it was scheduled to deploy the six-wheeled rover Vikram lander to its surface in September.

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"Chandrayaan-2 is an Indian lunar mission that will boldly go where no country has ever gone before -- the moon's south polar region," the Indian Space Research Organization said on its website. "Through this effort, the aim is to improve our understanding of the moon -- discoveries that will benefit India and humanity as a whole."

If the mission had succeeded, India would have joined the ranks of the United States, Russia and China as the only nations to have successfully made a soft landing on the moon.

Monday was India's third failed launch attempt to land a rover on the moon, the Deccan Herald reported.

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The launch was first scheduled in April 2018 but was postponed to October of that year, which was subsequently delayed until Monday.

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