Helium Leak in Cryogenic Engine Delayed Chandrayaan-2: Reports

The countdown for the mission commenced on Sunday and scientists were involved in propellant filling.

5 min read
Officials carry out the hoisting of the Vikram Lander during the integration of Chandrayaan-2.

The launch of Chandrayaan-2 was called off due to a technical snag on Monday, 15 July. In a tweet, ISRO said that the snag was observed in launch vehicle system, 56 minutes before the launch. The launch was scheduled for 2:51 am.

"It is not possible to make the launch within the launch window. Next launch schedule will be announced later,” the space agency said.

Reports have suggested that a leak in the helium bottle of the cyrogenic engine is what delayed the launch. However, there is no confirmation from ISRO about what exactly was the technical snag.

Scientists have said that the agency will try to get the rocket back by 31 July, before the current launch window ends. The next best window, that ensures full 14 Earth days for the lander and rover on the Moon comes earliest in September next.

  • Chandrayaan-2 launch was called off due to a technical snag on Monday, 15 July
  • ISRO has not announced the next launch date for the second moon mission
  • The Chandrayaan-2 has 13 payloads in total with eight of them in the orbiter, 3 payloads in the lander and two in the rover
  • Five payloads are from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria

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9:10 AM, 14 Jul

The Challenges Involved

ISRO officials said the challenges involved in the Moon landing were identifying trajectory accurately; taking up deep space communication; trans Lunar injection, orbiting around the moon, taking up soft landing on the moon surface and facing extreme temperatures and vacuum.

Scientists have pegged to make the landing of lander 'Vikram' on September 6 and then undertake a series of complex manoeuvres comprising "rough braking" and "fine braking."

A safe site free of hazards for landing would be decided based on pictures sent back by the camera onboard the lander and after touchdown the rover will carry out experiments for 14 Earth days.

9:10 AM, 14 Jul

Why Lunar South Pole is the Landing Target

According to ISRO, the lunar South Pole is an interesting surface area which remains in shadow than North pole. There is a possibility of the presence of water in permanently shadowed areas around it, the agency said, adding craters in the South Pole region have cold traps and contain fossil record of the early solar system.

9:10 AM, 14 Jul

Home Grown Technology Deployed in Chandrayaan-2

Through Chandrayaan-2, in which home grown technology is deployed, scientists aim to expand India's footprint in space, shed light on unexplored section of Moon - the South Pole region, enhance knowledge about space, stimulate advancement of technology and promote global alliances.

It is first expedition by ISRO to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface equipped with “home grown” technology. It would also be the first mission to explore the lunar terrain.

9:10 AM, 14 Jul

The Trajectory and Landing Plan of Chandrayaan-2

About 16 minutes after the lift-off, the GSLV MkIII will inject Chandrayan-2 into 170 x 40400 kms Earth orbit.

From then onwards, the mission will witness a series of manoeuvres by scientists to carry out different phases of the mission. For the first 17 days from lift-off, the spacecraft will be in Earth-bound phase before its orbit is finally raised to over 1.05 lakh km.

After that, it will be nudged into the Lunar Transfer Trajectory taking it to the proximity of Moon in the next two days. Then gradually over the next few days it will be brought to 100 X 100 km circular orbit when the lander will separate and after another few days of orbiting it will make a soft landing at a chosen place on Lunar surface.

The lander 'Vikram', named after father of Indian space research programme Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, carrying the rover 'Pragyan', will be landed in a high plain between two craters at a latitude of about 70 degree South of the moon.

Then the 27-kg 'Pragyan' meaning 'wisdom' in Sanskrit and a six-wheeled robotic vehicle, will set out on its job of collecting information on lunar surface.

The rover can travel up to half a km leveraging solar energy and both Pragyan and Vikram have a mission life of one Lunar day, which approximately equals 14 Earth days.

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