India has abandoned the launch of a mission to explore the south pole of the moon, just an hour before it was to blast off.
The mission to the far side of the moon to look for water was aborted early on Monday because of a technical problem.
The countdown for the launch of the $150-million Chandrayaan-2 mission abruptly stopped at T-56 minutes, 24 seconds,
Indian Space Research Organisation spokesman B.R. Guruprasad said a “technical snag” had been picked up in the 640-tonne launch-vehicle system.
The agency said a new launch date would be announced.
A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch. As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.
— ISRO (@isro) July 14, 2019
Chandrayaan, the Sanskrit word for “moon craft”, is designed for a soft landing on the far side of the moon and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.
India launched its first successful moon mission – Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. It did not land on the moon, but carried out a detailed radar search for water.
With nuclear-armed India poised to become the world’s fifth-largest economy, the ardently nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s prowess in security and technology.
If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth country to do so after the US, Russia and China.
Chandrayaan-2 is expected to attempt a soft landing near the little-explored south pole of the Moon.
Its mission will focus on the lunar surface, including searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes.
Dr K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, saidlast week that the Chandrayaan-2 mission was the nation’s most prestigious to date.
Since its inception in 196, India’s space program been criticised as inappropriate for an overpopulated, developing nation.
But decades of space research have allowed India to develop satellite, communications and remote sensing technologies that are helping solve everyday problems at home, from forecasting fish migration to predicting storms and floods.
Mr Modi has set a deadline of 2022 for India’s first manned spaceflight.
The US is working to send a manned spacecraft to the moon’s south pole by 2024.