India's exploration mission to the moon is readying for launch. The Chandrayaan-2 mission, aiming to put robots at the lunar south pole for the first time, has suffered several delays leading up to lift-off. It was originally scheduled for July 14 but the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) postponed the departure less than an hour before launch due to a "technical snag."
The landmark mission is now set to depart from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, north of Chennai, at 2:13 a.m. PT (5:13 a.m. ET), Monday July 22. Unlike the Apollo 11 mission, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this week, India's mission isn't slated to feature humans. Rather, Chandrayaan-2 is carrying three lunar exploration robots that will be able to survey the moon from both the surface and the sky.
The payload of Chandrayaan-2 consists of a lunar orbiter, a lunar lander and a lunar rover and will be launched atop the ISRO-developed GSLV Mk-III rocket. That rocket is about half as powerful as the SpaceX Falcon 9 and will put Chandrayaan-2 into what's known as an "Earth parking orbit" before the module uses its own power to extend that orbit and eventually position itself for a lunar rendezvous.
How to watch the Chandrayaan-2 launch
Want to tune in to the historic mission? ISRO will handle livestreaming duties across its social media pages, which means you could tune in at the ISRO Twitter or follow along on the agency's Facebook page. The agency's YouTube channel is also covering the event.
Indian public broadcaster Doordarshan will broadcast live from 1:40 a.m. PT. You can watch that stream below:
Why is this mission called Chandrayaan-2?
This is the sequel to Chandrayaan-1, an ISRO mission that launched 11 years ago featuring only a lunar orbiter. That orbiter reached the moon on Nov. 8, 2008, and then fired an impacter that struck the south pole. The material ejected from below the surface allowed ISRO to detect lunar water ice — a valuable resource that could enable future exploration. Chandrayaan-2 will look to build on this monumental discovery from the ground.
When will Chandrayaan-2 reach the moon?
Provided Chandrayaan-2 launches on time, it's expected to reach the moon on Sept. 6, 2019. If it can achieve the difficult feat of landing on the surface, India will become just the fourth nation to complete a soft landing in history, following the US, Russia and China, which has the Chang'e 4 rover operating on the far side of the moon.
The lander and rover are headed for the lunar south pole, exploring a scientifically important region that has been shown to contain water ice. The lunar lander, known as Vikram, and a rover, known as Pragyan, will set up shop in the south, unlike any previous mission to the moon. The proposed landing spot is between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N.
A video of all the moon landing sites — and Chandrayaan-2's proposed finishing spot — is below:
All three of ISRO's robotic explorers have different lifespans and will be looking to achieve key science goals in their limited time exploring the moon. Chief among these goals is the ability to understand the compRead More – Source