Bengaluru: In a major milestone for India’s Moon mission, the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft successfully entered the lunar orbit on Tuesday.
The Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre was completed successfully at 0902 hours as planned, using the on board propulsion system, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a release.
“The duration of manoeuvre was 1,738 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a Lunar orbit,” news agency PTI reported, quoting the ISRO statement.
ISRO chairman K Sivan told the media that the LOI manoeuvre was one of the trickiest operations in the mission.
He explained that a higher-than-expected approach velocity would have bounced off the spacecraft into deep space, while a slow approach would have led to the moon’s gravity to pull Chandrayaan 2 and crash it on the lunar surface.
The approach velocity had to be just right and the altitude over the moon rather precise. Even a small error would have killed the mission.
“Three more manoeuvres are to be completed. The next is tomorrow (Wednesday) around 1 pm. The big event is on September 2 when the lander will be separated,” Sivan said.
Following this, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the moon’s surface.
“Subsequently, the lander will separate from the orbiter and enter into a 100 km x 30 km orbit around the moon. Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft land in the south polar region of the moon on September 7,” the ISRO statement added.