Chennai: The countdown for Monday's Rs 978 crore [Dh516 million] Chandrayaan-2 mission launch that started at 6.43pm [IST] on Sunday is all geared up for the penultimate launch at 2.43pm IST or 1.13pm in UAE time on July 22 - Monday.
Chandrayaan-2 will be launched atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) MkIII, India's most powerful rocket.
The GSLV-Mk III rocket with Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was originally scheduled for flight at 2.51am [IST] on July 15. However, the flight was postponed after a technical snag was detected an hour prior to the rocket lift-off.
Better late than never
Experts said setbacks were to be expected in such missions given their complexity, and that it was more prudent to delay the launch instead of taking risks that may jeopardise the project.
"In such an ambitious and prestigious mission like Chandrayaan, one cannot take a chance even if a small flaw is detected," said Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, head of space policy at the New Delhi think tank the Observer Research Foundation.
Former Nasa scientist Kumar Krishen said India's space agency should be praised for taking on ambitious projects like Chandrayaan-2.
"We should keep in mind that space exploration is risky as many systems have failed in the past and many lives lost," he said.
Aside from propelling India into rarefied company among spacefaring nations, Chandrayaan-2 also stands out because of its low cost.
About $140 million has been spent on preparations for the mission, a much smaller price tag compared with similar missions by other countries - whose costs often run into billions of dollars.
Weighing about 640-tonne, the GSLV-Mk III rocket is nicknamed 'Bahubali' after the hero of a successful film of the same name. Just like the protagonist of the film lifted a heavy Lingam in one of its scenes, the rocket will carry the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft.
About 16-minutes into its flight, the Rs 375-crore or Rs 3.75 billion GSLV-Mk III rocket is expected to sling the Chandrayaan-2 into its 170x39,120-km orbit.
ISRO has sent up three GSLV-Mk III rockets so far. The first carried Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment in December 2014. The second and third GSLV-Mk III carried communication satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29 in February 2017 and November 2018 respectively.
GSLV-Mk III will also be used for India's manned space mission in 2022.