Chandrayaan-2 launch now likely between July 20-23

Chandrayaan-2 launch now likely between July 20-23

Baahubali, the GSLV Mk III rocket launcher carrying India's most ambitious moon mission, Chandrayaan-2

Recovering fast from Monday morning's last-hour suspension of Chandrayaan-2 launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is likely to make a second attempt any day between July 20 and 23. The Helium leak that affected the GSLV Mk III rocket launcher has been reportedly plugged.

Isro wants to quickly leverage the one-minute launch window available every day till July 31. Missing this deadline could affect the complex schedule drawn up for the mission, including its planned lunar orbit, a record-making soft-landing on the moon surface and the Rover experiments.

There is no official word yet from Isro on the new launch date, although an announcement is expected on Thursday. But the space agency sources have indicated that the new launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, could be between July 20 and 23. One most talked about date is Sunday, July 21.

Hectic reviews

Hectic reviews were on in the Isro top circles on Wednesday to firm up the new launch date, sources told DH. “They want to be extemely careful at all levels this time. If for some reason, the new launch is called off too, it would send a very wrong message. They want to avoid such a scenario at all costs,” said an official, preferring anonymity.

Early July 15 morning, exactly 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the scheduled 2.51 am launch, Isro had called off the Chandrayaan-2 lift-off. Officially, Isro attributed this to a 'technical snag' without elaborating. This glitch has now been rectified, said sources.

It was later learnt that Helium leak in the cryogenic engine of the GSLV Mk III had forced Isro to exercise extreme caution and put off the launch.

Alert overide

Forty years ago, Isro had overridden a computer alert about a gas leak in the first experimental launch vehicle, SLV-3, which eventually sank in the Bay of Bengal about six minutes after lift-off.

A propellant leak had triggered an alarm even during the Chandrayaan-1 launch in 2008. But since this was detected four hours before the launch, it was rectified quickly and the Mission was undertaken as per the schedule. Chandrayaan-2 offered no such luxury of time for Isro.

July 15 offered the most comfortable launch window of 10 minutes. But Isro has managed to successfully launch several satellites within one-minute windows in the past. However, delaying beyond July 31 could potentially reduce the Orbiter's life around the Moon from one year to six months.