India calls off the launch of its $146 million lunar mission due to a 'technical snag'

  • India's space agency called off its lunar mission on Monday after it observed a "technical snag" just one hour before its scheduled launch time. 
  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said in a tweet on Monday that Chandrayaan 2 was called off  "as a measure of abundant precaution," and said it would be announcing a new launch date in the future.  
  • The mission was approved in 2008 and was slated to touch down on the moon's uncharted South Pole on September 6.
  • According to Reuters, the 10 billion rupee ($146 million) mission's success would put India alongside the US, the former Soviet Union, and China as the only global space leaders to have completed a soft landing on the moon's surface.  
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India's space agency called off its lunar mission on Monday after it observed a "technical snag" just one hour before its scheduled launch time. 

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced the delay of Chandrayaan 2, which means "lunar vehicle" in Hindi, on Twitter 56 minutes before the rocket was set to liftoff.

The spacecraft was set to be launched on the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III, or GSLV Mk-III, which the space agency referred to as "India's most powerful launcher to date."

"A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at 1 hour before the launch," the agency said on Twitter. 

"As a measure of abundant precaution, #Chandrayaan2 launch has been called off for today."

It added that a new launch date would be announced in the future. 

Chandrayaan 2 was approved by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2008, and was slated to touch down on the moon's uncharted South Pole on September 6. The mission has three elements, including a lunar orbiter, rover, and lander, and will be the most complex mission the agency has undertaken. 

According to Reuters, the 10 billion rupee ($146 million) mission's success would put India alongside the US, the former Soviet Union, and China as the only global space leaders to have completed a soft landing on the moon's surface.  

Read more: Israeli scientists' attempt at the first private moon landing failed because of a glitch that caused a high-speed crash into the lunar surface

In April, Israel's Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon's surface after a technical glitch in one of its components caused its main engine to malfunction. SpaceIL, the Israeli nonprofit which sponsored the private moon mission, announced days later that it would build and launch a second mission. 

India successfully launched its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan 1, in October 2008, which orbited the moon at a height of 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the lunar surface. The mission concluded in August 2009 after communication with the spacecraft was lost.