Hours before Chandrayaan-2’s ‘Vikram’ module’s proposed soft landing on the Lunar surface, ISRO Chairman K Sivan on Friday said everything is going in a planned way. “We're going to land at a place where no one else has gone before. We're confident about the soft landing. We're waiting for tonight,” Sivan was quoted as saying by ANI.
Travelling at the speed of 6 km per second, Chandrayaan-2 will begin its final descent on Moon sometime between 1:30 am and 2:30 am tonight, followed by the rollout of rover ‘Pragyan’ between 5.30 am and 6.30 am. The soft landing will be telecast live from 1.10 am on Doordarshan, webcast on ISRO website and streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
“Certainly there is lot of anxiety in the minds of the entire (Chandrayaan-2) team because it’s a very complex operation and we are doing it for the first time,” a senior official associated with the mission, said on condition of anonymity.
“Everything... sensors, computers, command systems... has to work perfectly. But we are confident in the sense we have conducted a large number of simulations on the ground; it gives us the confidence it would go alright,” the official said.
He described the soft-landing as “almost like placing a baby on the cradle”, and said, “there is certain amount of anxiety but there is no fear.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, dozens of students from across the country selected by ISRO though an online quiz, a large media contingent and others are slated to watch the event as it happens, from the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC).
Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 venture launched more than a decade ago, comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan). The mission life of the orbiter will be one year while that of the lander and rover will be one lunar day which is equal to 14 earth days.
A successful touch-down will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to achieve a soft landing on the moon, and the first to launch a mission to the unexplored south polar region.
The Chandrayaan-2 is a Rs 978 crore unmanned moon mission (satellite cost Rs 603 crore, GSLV MK III cost Rs 375 crore). India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully launched the 3,840-kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the Earth’s orbit on July 22.
The spacecraft began its journey towards the moon leaving the earth’s orbit in the dark hours on August 14, after a crucial manoeuvre called Trans Lunar Insertion that was carried out by ISRO to place the spacecraft on “Lunar Transfer Trajectory.”
The spacecraft successfully entered the lunar orbit on August 20 by performing Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre.
On September 2, ‘Vikram’ successfully separated from the orbiter, following which two de-orbiting manoeuvres were performed to bring the lander closer to the Moon. The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex at ISTRAC here with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru.
With PTI Inputs