The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) called off the launch of its second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 less than an hour before the scheduled takeoff due to a technical snag in the launch vehicle.

Officials took to Twitter to reveal that as a measure of precaution, Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off.

India’s second lunar mission, the $142 million Chandrayaan-2 is believed to be the country’s most ambitious and complex space expedition. This mission will undoubtedly place India with nations in the modern space race - United States, China and Russia.

Reports say that a successful Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country behind the US, Russia and China to perform a ‘soft’ or controlled landing on the moon. Earlier in the year, China had successfully launched the Chang’e-4 lunar probe. Israel’s Beresheet failed touchdown as it crashed on the Moon in April.

According to, the ISRO’s new lunar mission will use an orbiter to study the moon from above, but will also drop a lander and rover to touch down at the south pole, something which other space agencies haven’t done yet. Experts say that the moon’s south pole is a tantalizing target for scientists as the region’s permanently shadowed craters can host water ice, which is a vital resource for future astronauts.

Earlier reports had stated that India is using a powerful rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MkIII). The BBC said that it weighs 640 tonnes, about 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet, and stands at 44 meters which is about the same height as a 14-storey building.

Moon orbiting Earth from 3.9 million miles
Eight days after its encounter with the Earth, the Galileo spacecraft was able to look back and capture this remarkable view of the Moon in orbit about the Earth, taken from a distance of about 6.2 million kilometers (3.9 million miles). NASA/JSC

ISRO chief, K. Sivan said the lander named Vikram, weighs about half as much, carries within its belly a 27 kg Moon rover with instruments to analyze the lunar soil. Sivan said the rover, Pragyan can travel up to half a kilometer from the lander. “It will send data and images back to Earth for analysis,” he said.