India successfully launched its second space mission on Monday in the form of a rocket bound for the Moon.
It came just one week after it delayed the scheduled blast-off due to technical issues.
Chandrayaan-2 was launched from the Sriharikota space station at 2.43 pm local time (11.13 am CEST).
The country’s space agency ISRO made the announcement on Twitter.
In India’s most ambitious mission yet in its effort to establish itself as a low-cost space power it will attempt to safely land a rover on the Moon.
Indian scientists will be able to carry out studies on the presence of water at the Moon’s south pole, an area unexplored by any other nation before, if the $146 million (€130 million) mission is successful.
The agency’s officials congratulated each other with handshakes and bear hugs after the launch.
“We are going to experience 15 minutes of terror, to ensure that the landing is done safely near the south pole,” ISRO chairman K Sivan said told reporters, describing the final moments before the craft is expected to touch down on the moon, around 47 days from now.
ISRO said a total of 7,500 visitors watched the launch from the Viewer’s Gallery at Sriharikota.
“Indian at heart, Indian in spirit! What would make every Indian overjoyed is the fact that #Chandrayaan2 is a fully indigenous mission,” Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.
“Our existing knowledge of the Moon will be significantly enhanced,” he added.
Only the former Soviet Union, the US and China have made a soft landing on the Moon’s surface before — India will become the fourth country to do so if this mission is successful.
Saturday marked fifty years since NASA’s Apollo 11 mission successfully landed men on the Moon for the first time.