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Space Exploration

India to make new bid to launch moon rocket 50 years after first landing

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists work on the orbiter vehicle of 'Chandrayaan-2', India's first moon lander and rover mission planned and developed by the ISRO, in Bangalore on June 12, 2019.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists work on the orbiter vehicle of 'Chandrayaan-2', India's first moon lander and rover mission planned and developed by the ISRO, in Bangalore on June 12, 2019. MANJUNATH KIRAN / AFP

India will make a new bid to launch a landmark mission to the Moon on Monday, a week after aborting lift-off at the last minute because of a fuel leak, officials said. The lauch will be just 50 years and one day after Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon.

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it had rescheduled the launch of Chandrayaan-2, or Moon Chariot-2, for 2:43 pm (0913 GMT) on Monday.

India is aiming to become just the fourth nation after Russia, the United States and China to land a spacecraft on the Moon.

Indian space chiefs called off the planned launch of the rocket 56 minutes before blast-off on Monday morning because of what ISRO called a "technical snag".

Media reports quoted ISRO scientists saying a helium fuel leak had been detected.

India has spent about $140 million on preparations for the project, which is one of the cheapest among international space powers.

By comparison, the United States spent about $25 billion -- the equivalent of more than $100 billion in current prices -- on 15 Apollo missions in the 1960s and 70s.

The rocket will launch from a space centre in Sriharikota, an island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

It will carry an orbiter, lander and a rover which has been almost entirely designed and made in India.

The orbiter is meant to keep circling the Moon for about one year, taking pictures of the surface and sending back information on the atmosphere.

A lander named Vikram will take the rover to the surface near the lunar South Pole.

India's first lunar mission in 2008 -- Chandrayaan-1 -- did not land on the Moon, but carried out a search for water using radar.

A soft landing on the Moon would be a huge leap forward in India's space programme, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi determined to launch a manned mission into space by 2022.

India also has ambitions to land a probe on Mars. In 2014, India became only the fourth nation to put a satellite into orbit around the Red Planet.

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