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Moon mission had a 'scare' on the eve of launch

ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair speaking to reporters after Chandrayaan launch. PTI photo

SRIHARIKOTA (PTI): A ‘small’ fuel spill, when the Polar rocket with the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft atop was being fuelled, created a near ‘scare’ during the final countdown for the launch of India's maiden unmanned Moon mission, ISRO Chief Madhavan Nair said here on Wednesday.

This was revealed by Nair who spoke of how space scientists at the Sriharikota spaceport faced an ‘ordeal’ after rains pounded the area and surrounding parts for nearly five days.

“Yesterday, we had a small mishap during filling operation when some fuel spilled over from one of the courses of the ground system and this created almost a scare,” Nair said.

The ISRO chief also said launch personnel had to clear the ‘pad’ and then carry out repairs before proceeding with the blast-off preparations. “We had to take a tough decision as to how much of fuel had to be loaded, how much to be unloaded and number of operations to be carried out correspondingly, which we had never done earlier,” he said.

“We lost 10 hours in the countdown on Tuesday due to inclement weather and almost lost the hope of making the launch. But working against all odds ISRO team has won the game,” Nair said.

Northeast monsoon usually peaks over the eastern coast around this time of the year. “It was an ordeal and never before we had such horrible weather just ahead of the launch date,” he added.

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