Chandrayaan 2 Moon mission updates | Launch called off due to technical snag

The countdown clock at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 15, 2019.   | Photo Credit: S.R. Raghunathan

ISRO has called off the launch of Chandrayaan 2 onboard GSLVMkIII-M1 due to a technical snag. It is not possible to make the launch within the launch window. Next launch schedule will be announced later, says ISRO.

Follow our extensive coverage of Chandrayaan 2, India’s second Moon mission here

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

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Here are more updates:

3.40 a.m.

 

Launch schedule could be decided only after 10 days: ISRO official

“The technical snag was noticed. We first have to approach the vehicle to assess the problem. First we have to empty the fuel loaded in the rocket, then the rocket will be taken back for further investigation,” an ISRO official told news agency IANS.

“This process will take 10 days after that only we can decide on the launch schedule,” he added.

3.10 a.m.

 

ISRO has put out a revised tweet now, in the common man's language. The tweet reads: “A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch. As a measure of abundant precaution, Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.”

2.53 a.m.

 

It’s 2.53 a.m. now. Had everything gone well, we would have witnessed the GSLV-MkIII rocket soaring into the sky, and would have waited for the next 17 minutes with our fingers crossed to know whether the spacecraft was injected into an Earth-parking orbit.

We now have to wait for clarifications from ISRO now. ISRO is tight-lipped beyond what is tweeted. The public relations officer too read out from the tweet.

An ISRO official announces in Sriharikota on July 15, 2019 that the Chandrayaan 2 mission launch was called off.

An ISRO official announces in Sriharikota on July 15, 2019 that the Chandrayaan 2 mission launch was called off.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

 

2.38 a.m.

 

Launch called off ‘as a measure of abundant precaution’, says ISRO

ISRO tweets: “A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at T minus 56 minute. As a measure of abundant precaution, Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.”

ISRO Associate Director (Public Relations) B.R. Guruprasad reads out what the space agency tweeted. No further clarifications.

T minus 56 minutes means 56 minutes before launch. 

When queried about whether there was only one window available for the next launch, that too on July 16, the ISRO official said the information cannot be confirmed.

2.11 a.m.

Mission called off due to technical snag

Call off procedure initiated due to technical snag. This happened just over half an hour after ISRO tweeted that the filling of liquid hydrogen in cryogenic stage was complete. An announcement said the launch could not be completed within the available window. It can be recalled the window is just 10 minutes long. The announcement at Sriharikota said the next date will be announced later.

ISRO tweet

On May 1, the ISRO announced a July 9 - July 16 launch window for India’s second moon mission. July is the most favourable period for launch, with the launch originally set for any day from July 9 to 16. The launch window spanned 10 minutes on each of these dates. During the remaining days of July, the launch window available was just one minute.

2.05 a.m.

Countdown held back with 56.24 minutes to go, reports our correspondent T.K. Rohit from Sriharikota.

1.45 a.m.

 

The women, and men, behind Chandrayaan 2

For many months now, M. Vanitha has been almost anonymously (to the outside) steering the ₹978-crore Chandrayaan 2 lander mission to Moon, working around its complexities and seeing it to finish. All the while, ISRO has provided little information about the project director or key operatives of a mission that it proudly presents to the world. Said to be an ace data specialist, Ms. Vanitha of the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre is easily the only woman to head a prestigious planetary mission, having been part of the earlier Cartosat-1, Oceansat-2 and Megha-Tropiques teams.

Supporting Ms. Vanitha as mission director for spacecraft aspects is Ritu Karidhal also from the URSC. An IISc alumna, Ms. Karidhal was deputy director operations for the Mars Orbiter Mission of 2013.

There was a change of guard at the space launch centre at Sriharikota just two weeks before the D-day of Chandrayaan 2.

S. Pandian superannuated as the director of Satish Dhawan Space Centre on June 30. ISRO brought in S. Rajarajan from the launch vehicle centre in Thiruvananthapuram, VSSC, to send off the mission. “The systems take care of such transitions,” said an official. The launcher team is led by VSSC's Jayaprakash. Directors of its key centres, S. Somanath of the VSSC which provided the GSLV MkIII launcher for the mission; P.Kunhikrishnan, whose URSC holds the key to spacecraft and lander functions; and V.V.Srinivasan, whose tracking centre ISTRAC in Bengaluru will handle vital post-launch manoeuvres of the spacecraft, have stayed in the shadows of the lunar mission.

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1.35 a.m.

 

Filling of liquid hydrogen complete

Filling of liquid hydrogen in cryogenic stage of GSLV-MkIII completed. It's just over an hour for Chandrayaan 2 launch.

 

1.15 a.m.

 

13 Indian payloads, one from NASA

Chandrayaan 2 mission will have 14 Indian payloads or study devices. Out of a total of 14 instruments in the composite module, 13 are Indian payloads and one payload is from NASA.

The orbiter, which weighs 2.4 tonnes, has eight instruments. From its 100-km orbit around the moon, its terrain-mapping camera and high-resolution camera can take pictures of the moon’s surface. Its imaging infrared spectrometer will look for minerals. The orbiter’s instruments will especially look for rock-forming elements such as magnesium, calcium, iron, and so on. Its synthetic aperture radar will hunt for buried water-ice on the Moon. Another instrument will study the Moon’s exosphere. Indeed, in a huge breakthrough, Chandrayaan 1 had discovered water-ice on the moon. ISRO chief Mr. Sivan described it as “the greatest achievement of the Chandrayaan 1 mission”.

The lander, which weighs 1.4 tonnes, has four payloads, including the one from NASA. The three Indian instruments will conduct experiments on lunar quakes and study the landing sites’ thermo-physical properties. The payload for studying the moon’s seismic activity is called Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity. The NASA payload, a last-minute addition, is called Laser Retroreflector Array. It will try to understand the dynamics of the earth-moon system and measure the distance from the lander on the moon to the earth.

The rover, which weighs about 27 kg, has two payloads including an Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer. They will compute the mineral and chemical composition of the moon’s surface.

12.45 a.m.

Why go to the Moon?

“The moon offers a pristine environment to study. It is also closer than other celestial bodies. Understanding how it formed and evolved can help us better understand the solar system and even earth itself. With space travel taking shape and exoplanets being discovered everyday, learning more about earth’s celestial neighbour can help in advanced missions. Finally, it is a piece of the larger puzzle as to how the solar system and its planets have evolved,” explains our science correspondent Shubashree Desikan. Read her explainer here.

ISRO sums up the rationale behind the mission thus:

“The Moon is the closest cosmic body at which space discovery can be attempted and documented. It is also a promising test bed to demonstrate technologies required for deep-space missions. Chandrayaan 2 attempts to foster a new age of discovery, increase our understanding of space, stimulate the advancement of technology, promote global alliances, and inspire a future generation of explorers and scientists.

“Moon provides the best linkage to Earth’s early history. It offers an undisturbed historical record of the inner Solar system environment. Though there are a few mature models, the origin of Moon still needs further explanations. Extensive mapping of lunar surface to study variations in lunar surface composition is essential to trace back the origin and evolution of the Moon. Evidence for water molecules discovered by Chandrayaan-1, requires further studies on the extent of water molecule distribution on the surface, below the surface and in the tenuous lunar exosphere to address the origin of water on Moon.

“The lunar South Pole is especially interesting because of the lunar surface area here that remains in shadow is much larger than that at the North Pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it. In addition, South Pole region has craters that are cold traps and contain a fossil record of the early Solar System.”

12.16 a.m.

Liquid oxygen filling completed, liquid hydrogen filling begins

ISRO tweets this update at 12.16 a.m.: Filling of Liquid oxygen in cryogenic stage of GSLVMkIII-M1 completed and filling of Liquid Hydrogen is in progress.

12 midnight

Orbiter to be injected in Earth-parking orbit 17 minutes after launch

It's exactly 2 hours 51 minutes to go the launch. About 17 minutes after lift-off, the third, upper cryogenic stage of the rocket will inject the composite module into an initial Earth-parking orbit with a perigee of 170 km and an apogee of 38,000 km. In the next 16 days, the propulsion system on board the orbiter will fire five times. They are called earth-bound burns. This will enable the composite module to perform five manoeuvres and go into an orbit of 150 km by 1,41,000 km.

The GSLV Mark III rocket, Chandryaan 2’s launch vehicle, at Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO

The GSLV Mark III rocket, Chandryaan 2’s launch vehicle, at Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO  

 

“After the five earth-bound manoeuvres, an important manoeuvre called trans-lunar burn will take place, with the propulsion system on the orbiter firing,” the ISRO chairman said. “It will put the composite module’s trajectory towards the moon.” For the next five days, the composite module will travel towards the moon. Once it reaches the moon, the propulsion system will once again fire and a retro-burn will happen. This burn/firing will put the composite module into an orbit with a perilune of 150 km and an apolune of 18,000 km. Said Mr. Sivan: “Subsequently, there will be four lunar-burn manoeuvres. Then the lunar orbit insertion will happen. Thus, the composite module will be captured in a circular orbit of 100 km around the moon.” The composite module will go around the moon in this orbit for 27 days.

11.30 p.m.

July 9 to 16 most favourable period for launch

On May 1, the ISRO announced a July 9 - July 16 launch window for India’s second moon mission. July is the most favourable period for launching Chandrayaan 2, with the launch originally set for any day from July 9 to 16. The launch window spanned 10 minutes on each of these dates. During the remaining days of July, the launch window available was just one minute.

11 p.m.

 

Pragyan will roam Lunar terrain for about 500m over 14 days

Ever since the spacecraft left the U.R. Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru and was integrated with the GSLV MkIII launch vehicle around early July, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota has been the hub of mission activities.

During the journey, the lander rides on the parent spacecraft and the smaller rover nestles inside the lander. The entire assembly weighs about 3,840 kg, according to ISRO.

The combined entity is programmed to function autonomously through the course of the mission. Post-launch, the spacecraft’s orbit will be gradually raised six times over 17 days before it is catapulted out of the earth’s orbit towards moon. The 3.84 lakh km journey will take five days, but the combined spacecraft must orbit the moon for about 28 days before the lander separates itself from the orbiter and descends on to the lunar terrain.

The exercise would take 52 days, with the lander-rover combine programmed to reach the lunar terrain on September 6, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said at a briefing in June. The rover would be launched from the lander after about four hours and would roam the terrain for about 500 m over the next 14 earth days — or one day on the moon.

10.30 p.m.

Post Chandrayaan 2, Gaganyaan and India’s own space station wait in the wings

After the successful launch of the Chandryaan 2, ISRO will turn its attention on two more significant missions in the coming years — ₹10,000-crore Gaganyaan — India’s first human flight programme — planned for 2022, the 75th year of Indian independence and to have India’s own space station, some 5 to 7 years after Gaganyaan launch.

 

10.05 p.m.

 

Filling of liquid oxygen begins

ISRO update: Filling of liquid oxygen in cryogenic stage of GSLV-MkIII-M1 has commenced. It's less than five hours for the launch.

 

10 p.m.

 

It's GSLV-MkIII's fourth mission

During the countdown, the rocket and the spacecraft’s systems will undergo checks and fuel will be filled to power the rocket engines. According to ISRO, filling of the liquid fuel in the Liquid Core Stage has been completed.

GSLV-MkIII is designed to carry 4 tonne class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tonne to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is about twice the capability of the rocket’s predecessor GSLV-MkII.

The vehicle has two solid strap-on motors, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage.

To date, ISRO has sent up three GSLV-Mk III rockets. The first one was on December 18, 2014, carrying the Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment. The second and third GSLV-MkIII went up on June 5, 2017 and November 14, 2018, carrying communication satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29, respectively.

Interestingly, GSLV-Mk III will also be used for India’s manned space mission slated in 2022.

9.30 p.m.

 

Components of Chandrayaan 2 modules manufactured in Bhubaneswar centre

Important components of the modules of Chandrayaan 2 have been manufactured by a Union government-run centre in Bhubaneswar, an official has said.

The Central Tool Room and Training Centre (CTTC) has manufactured 22 types of valves for fuel injection and other parts for the cryogenic engine of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III rocket, dubbed “fat boy” by Indian scientists for its ability to carry satellites weighing up to 4 tonnes, a top official said.

Chandrayaan 2 Moon mission’s Pragyan rover on the ramp of the Vikram lander at the clean room prior to its integration with the launch vehicle. Photo: ISRO

Chandrayaan 2 Moon mission’s Pragyan rover on the ramp of the Vikram lander at the clean room prior to its integration with the launch vehicle. Photo: ISRO  

 

A significant part was the creation of the limbs of the Pragyan with wheels attached to them. The limbs of Pragyan will work independently to help the rover negotiate the lunar surface after it lands on the Moon, Mr. Maity said.

The six-wheeled moon rover can travel up to 500 metres and is solar-powered.

While the CTTC had sent seven assemblies for navigation and inertial system to ISRO inertial systems unit, the parts of the cryogenic engine were sent to the space agency’s liquid propulsion systems centre, both located in in Thiruvananthapuram, he said.

For proper testing products like valves for the launch vehicle, the CTTC has a unit inside the headquarters of the space agency in Bengaluru.

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9 p.m.

 

‘15 minutes of terror’

Indicating the challenges involved in soft landing, which will feature a series of critical manoeuvres by scientists, ISRO chairman K. Sivan has said they will undergo about “15 minutes of terror (filled moments).”

ISRO chairman K. Sivan comes out after worshipping at the Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala in Tirupati on July 13, 2019.

ISRO chairman K. Sivan comes out after worshipping at the Lord Venkateswara temple at Tirumala in Tirupati on July 13, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

“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,” Mr. Sivan said after offering prayers at the hill shrine of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumala on July 13.

8.30 p.m.

 

10-minute launch window

It's raining at Sriharikota, our correspondent reports. And ISRO is looking to make use of the 10-minute launch window. 

Do you know how the mission’s various components came together. Watch it here.

To know more about how ISRO zeroed in on the launch date, read this story from Frontline, our sister publication.

8 p.m.

 

Countdown on

Welcome to The Hindu’s live coverage of the Chandrayaan 2 launch. The countdown commenced at 6.51 a.m. IST and the launch is set for 2.51 a.m. IST on July 15.

A sequel to Chandrayaan 1, which was launched in 2008 and only orbited the Moon at a distance of 100 km, Chandrayaan 2 entails the first attempt by any nation to make a landing on the Moon’s mineral-rich South Pole. The mission is to put a lander and a robotic, solar-powered rover with six wheels on the lunar terrain on September 6 for a brief on-site exploration.

The GSLV Mark III rocket, Chandryaan 2’s launch vehicle, at Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO

The GSLV Mark III rocket, Chandryaan 2’s launch vehicle, at Second Launch Pad in Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO  

 

If ISRO achieves the feat in its first attempt, it will make India only the fourth country to soft-land on the lunar surface. The erstwhile Soviet Union, the U.S. — which has done it multiple times — and China are the only countries to have achieved lunar landings.

As the countdown continues, you can read up on India's Second Lunar Mission through our extensive coverage here.

Also you can scroll down a bit to read some of our stories.

When you are done reading you can take our Chandrayaan quiz and score a perfect 10.

 

What is special about Chandrayaan 2?

Chandrayaan 2 will be the first mission to reach and study the south pole of the moon. It is made up of an orbiter, a lander named ‘Vikram’, after Vikram A. Sarabhai, the founding father of space science research in India, and a rover named ‘Pragyan’, which means ‘wisdom’. At about 3,877 kg, the spacecraft weighs nearly four times its predecessor, Chandrayaan 1. It will be launched by the GSLV Mark III, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO’s) most powerful and massive launcher. While Chandrayaan 1 sent its lander crashing into the moon, Chandrayaan 2 will use rocket technology to soft land ‘Vikram’, carrying its ‘Pragyan’ rover in a suitable high plain on the lunar surface, between two craters, Manzinus-C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70º South. This landing is scheduled for September 6 this year. The total cost of the project is about ₹978 crore. The lander-rover combo has an expected lifetime of 14 days, while the orbiter will continue for a year.

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ISRO’s lunar touchdown has dry run on soil fetched from Tamil Nadu

Newly designed cars are tested for road-worthiness on terrain where they would be driven, while new aircraft are test-flown in the skies. But where on earth did the Chandrayaan-2 mission’s lander and rover, which will head for the moon on July 15, check out their legs and wheels?

More than a decade ago, even as the Chandrayaan-1 orbiter mission of 2008 was being readied, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) created a proto-Lunar Terrain Test Facility (LTTF) at its advanced satellite testing unit, ISITE, in Bengaluru. This, it did, by modifying a balloon research lab, about 30-40 m high, long and wide.

An illustration of Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram. Photo: ISRO

An illustration of Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram. Photo: ISRO  

 

At the time, ISRO was grappling with the task of indigenously executing the cryogenic stage for its GSLV MkII rocket. Any thought of sending a moon lander was a distant dream of low priority. Equipping the LTTF and making it look and feel like being on the moon was the first challenge. It needed lunar ‘soil’ with almost all its features and texture, lunar temperatures, low gravity and the same amount of sunlight as on the moon.

For recreating the terrain, an option was to import simulated lunar soil from the U.S. — at an exorbitant $150 a kg (the then prevailing price). The facility needed about 60-70 tonnes of soil.

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‘Chandrayaan 2 will carry NASA’s laser instruments to Moon’

India’s lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 will carry NASA’s laser instruments that allow scientists to make precise measurements of the distance to the Moon, according to the U.S. space agency officials.

During the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference held at Texas, U.S. last week, NASA confirmed that Chandrayaan 2 and Israeli lander Beresheet will each carry NASA-owned laser retroreflector arrays.

ISRO scientists work on the orbiter vehicle and lander of Chandrayaan-2 in Bengaluru.

ISRO scientists work on the orbiter vehicle and lander of Chandrayaan-2 in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

 

“We’re trying to populate the entire surface with as many laser reflector arrays as we can possibly get there,” Lori Glaze, acting director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, was reported as saying by ‘Space.com’

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 2:10:02 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/chandrayaan-2-launch-live-updates-preparations-underway-for-the-launch/article28424649.ece

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