Sriharikota: Enthusiasts of all ages who had gathered in Sriharikota on Monday to witness the launch of Chandrayaan-2 were left disheartened as India’s second mission to Moon was called off due to a technical snag less than an hour before liftoff.
The countdown to the launch of Chandrayaan-2 onboard GSLVMkIII-M1— scheduled for 2.51 am— was stopped 56 minutes and 24 seconds before liftoff at 1.55 am.
Confusion prevailed for several minutes before the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) confirmed that the launch had been cancelled after a technical snag was detected in one of the launch systems of the GSLVMkIII-M1.
Despite the odd time, hordes of enthusiasts had reached the island, some of them travelling long distances on two-wheelers, to witness the historic moment.
However, the anxious men, women and children who were waiting with bated breath at a special gallery recently set up by ISRO left the venue disappointed as the mission did not go as expected.
Chandrayaan-2 would have made India the fourth country to soft-land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, the United States and China.
ISRO had set up the gallery— inaugurated by Chairman K Sivan a few months ago— on the sprawling Sriharikota premises as the number of spectators turning up to witness the launches had been increasing over time.
The space agency had last week held registrations for people who wanted to witness the launch of Chandrayaan-2.
As President Ram Nath Kovind too was present at the venue, security was tightened at the spaceport and people were allowed to reach the gallery in an organised manner.
However, as the news about the launch being cancelled came in, they began leaving in small batches but not before clicking pictures with the huge rocket models displayed at the entrance of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
Holding the tri-colour, a boy who had come with his family said he was disappointed as the mission was cancelled.
“We do not know what happened. But, we are disappointed. I hope they rectify whatever the issue is. We will come back again to witness the launch,” he said.
Another member of the public said it was good that scientists have called off the launch when the rocket was still on the ground.
“If it had gone into space and something had happened there, a huge amount of money spent on the mission would have gone to waste,” he said.