Did Vikram Lander go under?

Nipple joint is said to have been the reason for the termination of the Indian moon mission

The next start attempt is still possible in July

50 years after the Americans, the Indians also want to land gently on the moon. But their mission was canceled on Monday 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the planned launch at the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh because of a "technical problem with the GSLV Mk III launcher" (cf. Chandrayaan-2: India's lunar mission canceled shortly before start).

What exactly this "technical problem" was initially remained open. Now the Times of India, citing several anonymous "scientists" who are said to be entrusted with the matter, writes that the pressure in a 34-liter tank has fallen. This tank contained helium - a noble gas, the pressure of which regulates the supply of the actual propellants.

After technicians from the Indian space agency ISRO dealt with this effect for a day, they came to the conclusion, according to the report, that the cause was a nipple joint on the cooling unit of the helium tank. Repairing this relatively easily accessible joint does not require either completely emptying the tanks or disassembling the rocket, which is why the next attempt at launch may be scheduled for this month. July 29th and 30th would be considered. After that, there will only be favorable dates again in September.

Different media opinions on the danger

The ISRO technicians want to find out beforehand why the nipple joint did not work as it should - and whether the problem can recur. One assumption is that the nipple joint must be better insulated in order not to shrink because of the not far away and cooled to minus 183 degrees Celsius oxygen tank.

According to the Times of India informants, the problem with the nipple joint was not severe enough to endanger the mission. The Hindustan Times, however, citing (probably) other informers, fears that the stopping of the start saved Chandrayaan 2 from "potentially exploding".

The "brave" and the "wisdom"

If the launch is successful, Chandrayaan 2 will send the 1,471 kilogram lander Vikram (Sanskrit for "the brave") and the 27-kilogram rover vehicle Pragyan (Sanskrit for "wisdom") to the moon. Vikram is said to land between the two lunar craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N near the lunar south pole. Frozen water resources are suspected there, from which fuel could be obtained for onward journeys into space. Pragyan conduct examinations with an infrared spectrometer and a synthetic aperture radar.

Other instruments with which the rover, which is only 0.036 kilometers per hour, is equipped with an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for examining the lunar surface, a mass spectrometer for analyzing the lunar atmosphere and a camera for making lunar maps and for PR work.

If the soft moon landing succeeds, India would be the fourth nation after the USA, Russia and China to manage it. Hard moon landings have already been achieved in more countries. In the case of the Israeli lunar probe B'reshit, which shattered in April while attempting to touch down unharmed in the "sea of ​​serenity", this hard landing was unplanned (see "We have reached the moon - but not in one piece". Forerunner, which collected data in 2008, the 35 kilogram Moon Impact Probe (MIP) crashed as planned (see First Indian moon mission started).

In addition to the actors listed above, the placement of orbiters in a lunar orbit has been successful in Japan (1990) and the EU (2003). The South Koreans want to follow with their KARI project next year. So far, only the Americans have carried out manned landings (cf. 50 years ago: Apollo 11 takes off for the moon).

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