Indian probe on its way to the moon

India on Monday launched its lunar mission to land a satellite on the Earth’s natural satellite, contributing to the renewed international interest in exploring and exploiting the moon.
A rocket GSLV-MkIII, the most powerful rocket launcher of the Indian space agency ISRO, took off at 14H43 (09H13 GMT) from the firing point of Sriharikota, in south-east India, found journalists of the AFP.

After about 20 minutes, ISRO scientists applauded and fell into each other’s arms. “I am extremely pleased to announce that the GSLV-MkIII has successfully placed Chandrayaan-2 in its defined orbit,” said Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO President.

“This is the beginning of a historic trip for India,” he added.

The uninhabited expedition aims to land a mobile lander and mobile robot near the south pole of the Moon around September 6, some 384,000 km from the Earth, and to place a probe in lunar orbit.

If the mission is successful, India would become the fourth nation to successfully place a device on the Selenite soil, after the Soviet Union, the United States and China. An Israeli probe missed its moon landing in April and crashed.

“The launch of Chandrayaan-2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 1.3 billion Indians to reach new frontiers of science,” tweeted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The European Space Agency and the US State Department also extended their congratulations to ISRO.

“Today is a historic day for space, science and technology in India,” said the ISRO leader, who hailed the efforts to overcome a leak that led to the launch.

Chandrayaan-2 (“Lunar Trolley” in Hindi) was originally scheduled for launch on July 15, but officials stopped the countdown 56 minutes and 24 seconds before takeoff, because of a “technical problem” that ISRO then did not formally detail.

According to the local press, it was a leak in a helium cylinder of the cryogenic engine of the upper stage of the rocket.

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