India sends probe toward moon landing

India GSLV rocket launch
India’s GSLV Mk III rocket lifts off, sending the Chandrayaan 2 probe on a trip to the moon. (ISRO Photo)

India began a slow but steady space odyssey to the moon’s south polar region today with the launch of its Chandrayaan 2 mission.

The lunar landing, set for Sept. 6-7, would make India the fourth nation to set a probe safely down on the moon’s surface, after Russia, the United States and China.

If all goes according to plan, the mission’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover would gather the first on-the-ground scientific data from a region that NASA is targeting for a crewed landing in 2024.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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