India』s ambitions to become a global space power were dealt a blow yesterday after authorities called off a high-profile lunar mission with an hour to spare.
The Chandrayaan-2 mission had been due to set off from eastern India early yesterday to visit the moon』s previously unexplored south pole. Upon landing, a roving vehicle would have searched the surface for water and clues as to the solar system』s early development.
But the Indian Space Research Organisation announced that the launch had been abruptly called off after its technicians discovered a problem with the rocket, and would be rescheduled at a later date.
但印度空間研究組織(Indian Space Research Organisation)宣布，在技術人員發現火箭存在問題後，發射被突然叫停，並將在稍後的日期重新安排發射。
「A technical snag was observed in launch vehicle system at one hour before the launch,」 the organisation said. 「As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off for today.」
The authorities did not specify when they would announce new dates for the mission, nor was the specific issue that scuppered it made public, but analysts said it could take months to resolve.
The delay marked a setback for India』s government, which has publicly championed its extraterrestrial ambitions in a new space race whose goals include possible human habitation of the moon. It would have been India』s first lunar mission in over a decade, after its predecessor, Chandrayaan-1, sent a probe to the moon』s surface in 2008 but did not land.
Chandrayaan-2 is at the centre of India』s plans to compete with the US, Russia and China to become a global space power. Yesterday』s mission would have made India only the fourth country, after those three, to have pulled off a soft landing on the moon』s surface.
While Chandrayaan-2 was a civilian affair, India has in recent months championed the military side of its space programme, shooting down a satellite with a missile in a test in March. Narendra Modi, the prime minister, who was gearing up for a tough re-election battle at the time, said that project cemented India』s arrival as a 「space power」.