India's second mission to the moon has been halted for the sixth time

GSLV-F09 lift-off on April 29, 2017, Chandrayaan-2 will be launched on the GSLV-F10. ISRO

  • Chandrayaan-2, India's second mission to the moon, has been put on hold due to technical injuries to its moon lander, Vikram.
  • This is the sixth time that the moon mission has been delayed since its original launch date in 2013.
  • K. Sivan, the ISRO chairman, maintains that this is not a 'delay' or 'postponement'.
India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, has been put on hold yet again. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was reportedly looking for a window in mid-April for the launch but, Vikram, the moon lander for the mission, suffered minor injuries on two of its legs leaving the space agency in a quandary.

K. Sivan, the ISRO chairman, maintains that this is not a ‘delay’ or a ‘postponement’ as ISRO continues to search for a new launch window in May. A 12-member team, headed by Srinivasan RK, has also been formed to look into the anomalies that occurred during the Lander Drop test.

Some structural damage was found during the test. And, then it has been found that this was because the test configuration and orientation was wrong. We will do some modifications but we cannot say that Chandrayaan-2 is delayed or postponed as we are looking for an optimal launch window.

K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)

This is not the first time that Chandrayaan-2 has been pushed to a later date due to technical issues. In fact, the moon mission was initially supposed to take off in 2013, six years ago.

Here are all the times that the mission has been delayed:
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​On-schedule in 2010

​On-schedule in 2010

India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2, was originally an Indo-Russian venture are targeted to launch in 2013. The payload was also finalised, on-schedule, by 2010 to include an orbiter, a lander and a rover to be launched abroad a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.

​But then Russia pulled out

​But then Russia pulled out

Come 2013 Russia pulled out of helping India build its lander citing financial problems and the failure of the Roskomos’ Phobos Grunt mission. Because India would have to go at it alone, the mission profile has to be marginally adjusted.

The former ISRO chairman, K. Radhakrishnan, then announced that the Chandrayaan-2 would take off by 2016-17. ISRO spokesperson stated, “Isro aims to demonstrate its capability to soft-land on the lunar surface with this mission.”

​2018 rolls in

​2018 rolls in

March 2018 was finalised for the launch of Chandrayaan-2 but was then shifted to April 23, 2018 in search of a suitable launch window. But even before April rolled in, K. Sivan announced, “Chandrayaan 2 will not be in April, it has been changed to October.”

He further stated, “As the ongoing tests for the lunar mission will take 20 more more days, the April 23rd date could not be met. Therefore the panel decided to defer the launch,” as the national level committee to review Chandrayaan-2 recommended some more tests before the moon mission could take off.

​Missed opportunities

​Missed opportunities

After having missed two launch windows in 2018 because of necessary tests, January 2019 was pegged as the next launch launch for Chandrayaan-2. But K. Sivan cautiously said, “The mission could be carried out by April end and, if this one is also missed, by June.”

​By the end of the year

​By the end of the year

Hopefully Chandrayaan-2 will take off by the end of the year if no more hurdles come in its way. Reportedly, it’s only the lander that needs fixing while the rover and orbiter are in good health.

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