Three days after it took off from the launch pad at Sriharikota, Chandrayaan-2 has successfully made its first earth-bound maneuver and is now revolving around the Earth in a new orbit higher than the where it was placed on Monday.
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon and consists of an integrated module- the Orbiter, Lander Vikram and Rover Pragyan. It blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 2:43 pm on Monday, and was injected into the Earth Parking orbit within the next 16.5 minutes.
At 2:52 pm on Wednesday, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully performed the first earth bound orbit raising maneuver for the mission module.
The scientists fired the on-board propulsion system for duration of 57 seconds, putting the module on a new orbit –whose nearest point from the earth is 230 km away, while the farthest point is at a distance of 45,163 km from earth.
The initial launch orbit was 170 x 45,476 km, which was 6,000 kms higher than the intended orbit, ISRO Chairman K Sivan had said minutes after the launch on Monday. This helped save fuel and time which would otherwise have been spent in maneuvers, he added.
Over the next 20 days, it would remain in the Earth’s sphere of influence, but its orbit would be continuously raised using the onboard propulsion system. A series of 15 critical maneuvers would be performed to help Chandrayaan-2 move closer to the moon, which is revolving around the earth at a distance of nearly 3.4 lakh kms.
The first five manevers would be carried out before the trans-lunar injection is performed on August 14. This is a crucial propulsion exercise which would would help set the spacecraft on a trajectory that will cause it to arrive at the Moon. If everything goes as planned, the spacecraft would reach the moon’s orbit by August 20.
However, the soft landing on the moon would be attempted on September 7.
The second orbit raising manoeuvre would be performed at 1.09 pm on Friday, followed by the second on July 29, September 2 and September 6, stated ISRO. Chandrayaan-2 is India’s historic mission to attempt its first ever soft landing on the South Pole of the moon, which has not been explored by any other country ever before.