Minutes after India successfully launched the Chandrayaan 2 at 2:43 pm today, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K Sivan thanked the engineers involved in the "mammoth task" of ensuring that the issues leading to the postponement of a previous lift-off attempt last week were swiftly resolved. "This is the beginning of India's historic journey towards the moon, to land at a place near the lunar south pole for carrying out scientific experiments and exploring the unexplored. We had suffered a serious technical snag during our first attempt, but ISRO has now bounced back with flying colours," he said at a press conference held after the launch.
Although Chandrayaan 2 was originally supposed to be launched on July 15, it was stopped with 56.24 minutes to go after scientists identified a technical snag in the unmanned launch vehicle system. Accoring to experts, the glitch involved the critical cryogenic stage that comes just before the launch.
Dr Sivan announced that the launch vehicle -- the GSLV Mark III -- had successfully injected the Chandrayaan 2 into its defined orbit. "In fact, the orbit is 6,000 km more than what we originally intended. That way, the satellite people have more lift, more fuel for trying out manoeuvres," he said.
The "historic day", as the ISRO chief described it, had not come without effort. According to him, the satellite team "burnt the midnight oil" over exended periods to customise the satellite as per the national committee's specifications. "They reworked almost the entire spacecraft in the last one-and-a-half years. They worked without any rest. My congratulations and best compliments to the satellite team for bringing Chandrayaan 2 to the launchpad at the earliest," he said.
Dr Sivan praised the renewed efforts put in by scientists after the aborted launch last week. "The work done in the next one week was mindboggling. The root cause of the snag was quickly identified, and the vehicle was brought back to normal. Everything happened in 24 hours. In the next one and a half days, all the corrections that had been carried out were rigorously tested. This mammoth task was possible only because of the hard work of ISRO engineers, technical assistants, technicians and supporting staff," he said.
The Rs 375-crore Chandrayaan 2 carried with it an orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a moon rover called Pragyaan.
"Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history! The launch of #Chandrayaan 2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science. Every Indian is immensely proud today!" Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted soon after the launch. He also claimed that the historic launch would encourage youngsters in the country to walk the path of science and innovation.
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