Bengaluru: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan characterized the tense moments when Chandrayaan-2 tried to inject the spacecraft into the lunar orbit on Tuesday as “heart-stopping.”
Addressing the media after the successful move, Sivan said as ISRO researchers began firing the onboard liquid engine of Chandrayaan-2 to place the spacecraft in an orbit around the Moon, “our heartbeat improved.”
“Our heart was almost stopping for 30 minutes,” he said following the successful completion of the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) maneuver at 0902 hours as planned, using the onboard propulsion system.
For Sivan, however, Tuesdsay was just the beginning as he described the proposed soft landing on the Moon on September 7 as a “terrifying” moment because it was something ISRO hadn’t done before, while LOI maneuver was also successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission. “The tension has now only risen, not decreased,” he said.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft reached the lunar orbit on Tuesday in a significant milestone for India’s Moon mission. “The maneuvering length was 1,738 seconds. Chandrayaan-2 was effectively inserted into a Lunar orbit with this,” said ISRO.
After that, a series of orbit maneuvers will be conducted on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to allow it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the surface of the Moon, she said.
The lander will then separate from the Orbiter and enter an orbit around the Moon of 100 km X 30 km. Then, on September 7, ISRO said, it will conduct a sequence of complicated braking maneuvers on soft soil in the Moon’s southern polar region.
The spacecraft’s health is continually tracked at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with assistance from the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas in Bylalu, near Bengaluru, from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX). The next maneuver of the Lunar bound orbit is planned between 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm on Wednesday, ISRO said.
On August 14, Chandrayaan-2, which was launched by GSLV MkIII-M1 on July 22, joined the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. Chandrayaan 2— India’s second lunar expedition — sheds light on a totally unexplored Moon segment— its South Polar area, according to ISRO.
“This task will help us achieve a better knowledge of the Moon’s origin and evolution through thorough topographical research, extensive mineralogical analyzes, and a host of other lunar surface experiments,” the space agency said.