India is set to launch its third Moon mission, aiming to be the first to land near its little-explored south pole.
The Chandrayaan-3 craft with an orbiter, lander and a rover is due to lift off at 14:35 on Friday (09:05 GMT) from Sriharikota space centre.
The lander is due to reach the Moon on 23-24 August, space officials said.
If successful, India will be only the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, following the US, the former Soviet Union and China.
The third in India’s programme of lunar exploration, Chandrayaan-3 is expected to build on the success of its earlier Moon missions.
It comes 13 years after the country’s first Moon mission in 2008, which carried out “the first and most detailed search for water on the lunar surface and established the Moon has an atmosphere during daytime”, said Mylswamy Annadurai, project director of Chandrayaan-1.
Chandrayaan-2 – which also comprised an orbiter, a lander and a rover – was launched in July 2019 but it was only partially successful. Its orbiter continues to circle and study the Moon even today, but the lander-rover failed to make a soft landing and crashed during touchdown. It was because of “a last-minute glitch in the braking system”, explained Mr Annadurai.
Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) chief Sreedhara Panicker Somanath has said they have carefully studied the data from the last crash and carried out simulation exercises to fix the glitches.
Chandrayaan-3, which weighs 3,900kg and cost 6.1bn rupees ($75m; £58m), has the “same goals” as its predecessor – to ensure a soft-landing on the Moon’s surface, he added.