The mood was euphoric on Monday at the mission control room of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro’s) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota.
At 2.43 pm the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III), carrying the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, lifted off from its launchpad.
GSLV-Mk III cost Rs 375 crore and Chandrayaan-2 Rs 603 crore.
After a technical snag aborting the takeoff on July 15, the space agency succeeded in putting the satellite on the desired orbit, or a better orbit, as the first step of its 48-day journey to the moon’s unexplored south pole, about 384,000 km away.
President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Isro and its scientists on this feat.
Before the launch, however, it was a tense situation at the mission control room with former Isro chiefs A S Kiran Kumar and K Radhakrishnan, among others, watching the proceedings from the gallery. There was no lighthearted conversation as there used to be during the launch of some PSLV missions. However, when the announcement of the successful launch came, people went into raptures, in the midst of which the scientists congratulated Isro Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan on this and hugged him. Around 7,500 visitors witnessed the launch live from the Viewer’s Gallery at Sriharikota.
“Today is a historic day for science and technology in India. I am happy to announce that the GSLV Mark III vehicle has injected Chandrayaan-2 into the defined orbit. The orbit is 6,000 km more than what was intended,” he said.
Speaking about how Isro addressed the snag, Sivan said: “The team swung into action.
“Work done in the next 24 hours was mind-boggling.
The vehicle was quickly brought back to normal, and the root cause was identified and rectified. In the next one and a half days, the required tests were conducted. “After that the vehicle was handed over to the management.” he said.
The satellite team will now do 15 crucial manoeuvres in the next one and a half months. In the final stage, the safe landing of the lander on the surface of moon at the desired location is going to be ‘15 minutes of terror’,” he said.
The rocket is carrying a three-component spacecraft weighing 3,850 kg and comprising a 2,369-kg orbiter, a 1,477-kg lander, and a 26-kg rover. Vikram, the lander, will land on the moon on the 48th day of the mission, which begins on Monday.
After 16 minutes into its flight, GSLV-Mk III placed Chandrayaan-2 into an Earth-parking 170x40,400 km orbit. From there Chandrayaan-2 will travel nearly 384,400 km, carrying Vikram and rover Pragyaan.
If the mission is successful, India will be the fourth country — after Russia, the United States, and China — to land a spacecraft on the moon.
Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru successfully took control of the spacecraft.