India aborts landmark moon mission, will make a new bid

India aborts landmark moon mission, will make a new bid
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NEW DELHI - 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 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. -APP/AFP

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