Next Chandrayaan 2 launch may take 10 days or weeks

In this picture released by ISRO Thursday, July 11, 2019, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk 3) or 'Bahubali' is seen at the second launch pad ahead of the launch of Chandrayaan-2, in Sriharikota. The space mission, which aims t

Calling off the much-awaited Chandrayaan-2 launch early Monday morning, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) made a statement of reassurance: The next launch date will be announced soon. But how soon is a matter of 10 days or even weeks and months.

Keeping a close watch on the launch vehicle, the GSLV Mk III during the final countdown, Isro had spotted the technical snag while the cryogenic fuel was being loaded. The countdown was halted 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the scheduled launch.

To investigate what really happened, the fuel loaded will now have to be emptied and the launch vehicle tested thoroughly, according to Isro officials. But this is a slow process and could take at least 10 days. A fresh schedule is likely to be announced only after this is completed.

Minutes after the countdown for the 2.51 am launch was halted, Isro had issued an official statement attributing the suspension to a technical snag. But the implication was clear: That the space agency could not take any chances since the launch window was barely 10 minutes, between 2.51 am and 3.01 am.

In June, at a media conference in Bengaluru, Isro chairman K Sivan had explained that in case the July 15 launch was not possible, another date was technically possible in the same month. But this window would be too short, not more than a minute, all depending on the Moon’s position in relation to the Earth.

Big disappointment for space buffs:

For hundreds of space buffs who had gathered at the gallery inside the Satish Dhawan Space Centre campus in Sriharikota, the launch delay was a huge disappointment. The Isro chairman had inaugurated the gallery a few months ago.

Although the launch pad was a good eight kms away, the young men, women and children had their eyes glued to the skies. Many were sure that they could catch the rocket on its flight path upwards in all grandeur.

But once the big screens with timers went blank, confusion prevailed. Many called up the Media Centre, still farther from the launchpad. Even mediapersons were awaiting confirmation of Isro putting off the launch.

Dejected, the enthusiasts slowly started trooping out. As consolation, they could be seen taking selfies before the giant PSLV and GSLV replicas installed at the entrance of the Space Centre. Many of them held stand-alone cameras and other gadgets to capture a landmark, history-making occasion.

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