NEW DELHI :
We have a perfectly normal lift off," sounded the mission control room at 2.43pm on Monday as the 3.8-tonne GSLV Mark-III M1 blasted off from the launch pad at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, releasing plumes of white smoke before it disappeared into the clouds.
During the next 16.5 minutes, scientists of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) with their eyes transfixed on the monitors watched as the rocket crossed the earth’s atmosphere and entered space, separating its first two stages. The tension was palpable. It was India’s second attempt, after the initial launch was aborted due to a technical glitch detected 56 minutes before take-off on 15 July.
“Isro has bounced back with flying colours," said K. Sivan, Isro chairman and broke into a nervous smile, minutes after the monitor showed the satellite image of Chandrayaan-2 finally docking into the intended orbit in space after successfully separating from its last cryogenic stage.
Recalling the tense moments after the launch was aborted last week, Sivan said: “The entire Isro team had swung into action to ensure the snag was fixed properly. The work done during those 24 hours was mind-boggling. It was a mammoth task. It is my duty to salute all the scientists."
Subsequently, the rocket was brought back to its normal phase, the fuel was removed to identify the glitch and fix it. It was followed by rigorous testing until the correction was confirmed. However, the missed opportunity left the agency with a window so tight that even a minute’s delay could have impacted the launch. Monday’s launch was successfully executed and the soft landing will be attempted on 7 September.