India successfully launches second mission to the moon
Earlier today, India successfully launched a rocket to the moon with the aim of making a soft landing and getting a lunar rover onto its south pole.
India's latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2 took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state today, at 5:13 am local time.
This launch marks a landmark attempt for the country as it pursues the status of a space superpower.
The mission had initially been scheduled for lift-off on July 15, but less than an hour before taking off it was abruptly cancelled due to a "technical snag".
Now, if all goes to plan, India will be the fourth country (along with the United States, China and the former Soviet Union) to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.
The technology has been developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The spacecraft weighs 3.8 tons and is made up of three main parts - a lunar orbiter, a landing module and a lunar rover. It will travel for two months before entering orbit 100km above the surface of the moon.
From there, the lander, Vikram - named after Vikram Sarabhai, the pioneer of the Indian space program - will separate from the main vessel, and attempt to land near the moon's southernmost point.
A robotic rover (named Pragyan) will then deploy, spending one lunar day (14 Earth days) collecting mineral and chemical samples from the moon's surface.
Over the following year, the orbiter will map the lunar surface and study the outer atmosphere of the moon.
Kailasavadivoo Sivan, ISRO chairman, said in June that the last 15 minutes of the landing "are going to be the most terrifying moments for us."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has since taken to Twitter to congratulate the team on their efforts:
"Special moments that will be etched in the annals of our glorious history! The launch of #Chandrayaan2 illustrates the prowess of our scientists and the determination of 130 crore Indians to scale new frontiers of science. Every Indian is immensely proud today!" he tweeted.
The current mission will be followed by Chandrayaan-3, in an attempt to send another rocket to the moon some time between 2023 and 2024.