India is making the final preparations to launch its first-ever lunar lander on Sunday, July 14 as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, the country’s most ambitious space project yet.
Launched atop India’s most powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, the 15-story high, 640-ton booster is scheduled to lift off at 2:51am local time on Sunday.
All going well, the lunar rover called ‘Pragyaan’ is due to touch down in first week of September, when it will reportedly plant an Indian flag on the surface at the landing zone near the site of a “large excess of mass” discovered recently in the Moon’s South-Pole Aitken basin.
The 27kg, six-wheeled rover is armed with an x-ray spectrometer to analyze the crust in the basin to discover how it was formed.
It will be almost 11 years since India’s last foray to the Moon, when the Chandrayaan-1 probe made a controlled impact near the south pole to collect soil samples to test for traces of water.
If successful, the mission will make India the fourth country to touch down on the Moon after the US, Russia and China.
Israel failed in its attempt to take fourth place in the moon-landing record books with its Beresheet spacecraft earlier this year.
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