With Chandrayaan-2 Launch, India's ISRO Shoots For the Moon on a Shoe-String Budget

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India took a giant leap in its space program on Monday after its space agency launched a spacecraft that is scheduled to touch down on the Moon in September. From a report: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which is India's equivalent of NASA, confirmed the successful launch of the spacecraft as the nation inches closer to become only the fourth country -- after the United States, China, and the Soviet Union -- to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 aims to land on a plain surface that covers the ground between two of the Moon's craters, Simpelius N and Manzinus C. The spacecraft was originally scheduled to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 15, but ISRO postponed it less than 20 minutes ahead of the deadline citing a "technical glitch." ISRO said it resolved the issue last week. Everything about India's homegrown lunar mission -- dubbed Chandrayaan-2 (Sanskrit for "moon vehicle") -- is a technological marvel. The spacecraft -- which is sitting atop the country's most powerful rocket to date, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle called Mark III -- is carrying an orbiter, a lunar lander called Vikram and six-wheeled rover Pragyan (Sanskrit for "wisdom"). In early September, the lander, which is named after Vikram Sarabhai, the father of ISRO, is scheduled to detach from the orbiter. Until then, Chandrayaan-2 will embark on a slow journey to the Moon, staying in an elliptical orbit. The mission's budget is just $141 million, significantly lower than those of other countries, and less than half of the recently released blockbuster "Avengers: Endgame." The orbiter is designed to operate for at least one year, but lander and rover are expected to operate for just a couple of weeks.

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