In a significant step for India’s moon mission, Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was successfully placed in the moon’s orbit on Tuesday in a nerve-wracking manoeuvre, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
According to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) was completed successfully at 9.02 am as planned using the onboard propulsion system. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.
“The duration of manoeuvre was 1,738 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114km X 18,072km,” the ISRO said.
The 3,850-kg Chandrayaan-2, a three-module spacecraft comprising an orbiter, Lander Vikram and rover, which was launched on July 22, will make a soft-land on the moon on September 7.
The process of setting down Chandrayaan 2 on the Moon is very complex since it blasted off at a velocity of 39,240 kilometres per hour, which is almost 30 times the speed at which sound travels through the air.
“One can imagine even a small error can make Chandrayaan 2 miss its rendezvous with the Moon,” ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said.
Following this, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.
Subsequently, the lander — Vikram — will separate from the Orbiter and enter into a 100km X 30km orbit around the Moon.
“Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft-land in the South Polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019,” ISRO said.
The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near the Karnataka capital.
The next Lunar bound orbit manoeuvre is scheduled on Wednesday between 12.30-1.30 pm.
Chandrayaan-2, India’s second moon mission spacecraft, lifted off successfully onboard the “Bahubali” rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh on July 22.
Minutes after the launch, GSLVMkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the earth’s orbit.
The rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 was originally scheduled to lift off on July 15 early morning but was aborted after a “technical snag” was observed in it, nearly an hour before launch.
A week later, the ISRO announced that the “fault” had been rectified and that the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft will be launched on July 22.
The Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission is a prestigious one as it is aimed to make India the fourth nation in the world to land and ride on the moon after the US, Russia and China.
Chandrayaan-2 is a sequel to Chandrayaan-1, India’s maiden unmanned moon mission which was announced by late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the 56th Independence Day in 2003.