India has called off the launch of a moon mission to explore the lunar south pole.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission was aborted less than an hour before takeoff today. Indian Space Research Organisation spokesman B.R. Guruprasad says a “technical snag” was observed in the 640-tonne launch-vehicle system.

The agency says a new launch date would be announced.

Chandrayaan, the word for “moon craft” in Sanskrit, is designed for a soft landing on the far side of the moon and to send a rover to explore water deposits confirmed by a previous Indian space mission.

India’s nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi is eager to show off the country’s security and technology prowess. If India did manage the soft landing, it would be only the fourth to do so after the US, Russia and China.

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