India has successfully launched a mission to soft land a rover on the moon, in a landmark moment for a nation trying to become a space superpower. The country's latest lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2, which means "moon vehicle" in Sanskrit, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state at 2:43 p.m., Monday local time (5:13 am ET).
The launch was originally scheduled for July 15, but was abruptly called off just 56 minutes before lift-off due to a "technical snag." India is now on the way to becoming the fourth country -- in addition to United States, China and the former Soviet Union -- to make a soft-landing on the lunar surface.The Chandrayaan-2, which weighs 3.8 tons and carries 13 payloads, has three elements -- lunar orbiter, lander and rover, all developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). It will travel for two months, before positioning itself in a circular orbit 62 miles (100km) above the moon's surface. From there, the lander -- named Vikram after the pioneer of the Indian space program Vikram Sarabhai -- will separate from the main vessel and gently land on the moon's surface near its South Pole.