Nagpur: In a significant milestone for India’s Moon Mission, Chandrayaan-2 successfully entered the lunar orbit today after nearly 30 days of the journey in space. ISRO in a statement said, “Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019) at 09:02 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the maneuver was 17:38 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114 km x 18072 km.”
Addressing the media, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the mission had achieved a milestone. “Chandrayaan-2 mission crossed a major milestone today, the precise lunar orbit insertion maneuver was carried out at 9 am for about 30 minutes and Chandrayaan 2 was precisely inserted in the defined orbit,” he said.
On Monday, ISRO Chairman K Sivan had called the step “challenging”. This was one of the trickiest operations in the mission because if the satellite approached the Moon at a higher-than-expected velocity it would bounce off it and get lost in deep space. But if it approached at a slow velocity, the Moon’s gravity would pull the Chandrayaan-2 and it might crash into the surface.
Following this, there will be further four-orbit maneuvers to make the spacecraft enter into its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100km from Moon’s surface, ISRO has said.
Subsequently, the Vikram lander will separate from the orbiter on September 2, according to the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency. Two orbit manoeuvres will be performed on the lander before the initiation of powered descent to make a soft landing on the lunar surface on September 7, ISRO said.
Chandrayaan-2, launched on July 22 by GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle, had entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory on August 14 after final orbit raising manoeuvre of the spacecraft was successfully carried out.
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 Byalalu, near Bengaluru.
All systems onboard Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft are performing normal, ISRO said on August 14. According to ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 — India’s second lunar expedition — will shed light on a completely unexplored region of the Moon, its South Pole.
“This mission will help us gain a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon by conducting detailed topographical studies, comprehensive mineralogical analyses, and a host of other experiments on the lunar surface,” the space agency has said.
“While there, we will also explore discoveries made by Chandrayaan-1, such as the presence of water molecules on the Moon and new rock types with unique chemical composition,” it said.
India’s most ambitious space mission to date, Chandrayaan 2 had lifted off from India’s spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 22. The lift-off was successful in its second attempt, a week after it was aborted just under an hour from its launch due to a technical glitch. The mission stands out because of its low cost, with just about Rs. 1,000 crore spent — a much smaller price tag compared to similar missions by other countries.
If successful, the mission will make India the fourth country to soft-land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, US and China. The last nation to attempt a soft landing on the Moon, Israel, failed in its earlier this year.