India’s GSLV Mk III rocket lifts off, sending the Chandrayaan 2 probe on the first leg of its journey to the moon. (ISRO Photo)
India began a slow but steady space odyssey to the moon’s south pole today with the launch of its Chandrayaan 2 mission.
The scheduled landing on Sept. 7 would make India the fourth nation to set a probe down on the lunar surface, after Russia, the United States and China.
If all goes according to plan, the mission’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover would gather the first on-the-ground scientific data from a region that NASA is targeting for a crewed landing in 2024.
Today’s liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota Space Center, on India’s southeast coast, was hailed by mission leaders at the Indian Space Research Organization.
“It is the beginning of a historical journey of India toward the moon, and to land at a place near the south pole to carry out scientific experiments, to explore the unexplored,” said ISRO Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan.
In his congratulatory message to the team, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi noted that the launch was originally scheduled for last week but had to be postponed due to ...