The landing module of Chandrayaan 2, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s second mission to the moon, has completed its second and final in-orbit adjustment in lunar orbit. This manoeuvre was started at 3.45 am IST on 4 September, and lasted all of 9 seconds. With this success, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover (the two components in the landing module) are now closer than ever to making their highly-anticipated soft-landing on 7 September.
From its previous elliptical orbit of 109 x 120 km orbit (nearest x farthest distance from the surface), the landing module has been lowered to a more suitable 35 x 101 km orbit around the moon. The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the Moon in a higher, elliptical orbit of 96 x 125 km. ISRO confirmed that both orbiter and lander are healthy.
“With this manoeuvre, the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence its descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved,” ISRO said in the Chandrayaan 2 update. The lander is scheduled to powered descent between 1-2 am IST on 7 September 2019, which is then followed by touchdown of the lander on the moon’s surface between 1.30-2.30 am IST, they added. This key step will be streamed live from ISRO’s control room at the Satellite Control Centre (SCC) in Bengaluru.
On 7 September (a.k.a landing day!), after a powered descent lasting 15 minutes, the Vikram lander will drop from a height of 100 km to attempt a soft-land on the moon around 1.55 am. This landing, if successful, will propel India to an exclusive group of only four nations that have soft-landed on the moon’s surface.