India, Sept. 3 — India’s second mission to moon is one step closer to the landing planned for September 7 at 01:55 am. The orbit of the Vikram lander, which had separated from the main composite module of Chandrayaan 2 yesterday, was lowered today in a 4-second manoeuvre.
The propulsion system on-board the indigenously developed lander was fired for the first time today. So far, all the manoeuvres of the Chandrayaan 2 composite module (the orbiter, lander, nd rover) were carried out using the propulsion system of the orbiter.
The first de-orbiting manoeuvre of the Vikram lander was performed at 08:50 am and the orbit was reduced to 104×128 km. The orbiter continues to move in the 119×127 km orbit, where it will remain for a year collecting data on the lunar terrain, the thin atmosphere around the moon, lunar ionosphere, and minerals on the moon.
“Both orbiter and the lander are healthy,” the Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement.
The final de-orbiting manoeuvre of the lander is scheduled between 03:30 and 044:30 am tomorrow. The lander would be brought close to a 110×35 orbit in preparation for landing near the South Pole.
“Till the landing is complete, it will be terrifying. Till now, we have not operated the systems on-board the lander, especially the propulsion system. This is the phase, including the powered descent, that we will be doing for the first time. That is why it is critical,” Isro chairperson K Sivan said after the spacecraft entered the lunar orbit.
The lander technology was indigenously developed by India when the Russian space agency Roscosmos pulled out of the project after their own mission to the Martian moon Phobos failed. This was one of the major reasons for the delay of Chandrayaan 2 mission, which comes eleven years after its predecessor.
A successful mission would make India the fourth country after the USA, erstwhile USSR, and China to land on the moon. It would be the first mission to land at a site 70 degrees South latitude close to the lunar South Pole.
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