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Chandrayaan-2 begins 48-day journey to the Moon amid anxiety and euphoria

President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Isro and its scientists on this feat

T E Narasimhan  |  Sriharikota 

GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh | Photo: ISRO
GSLV-MkIII-M1 rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh | Photo: ISRO

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 spacecraft, lifted off from its launchpad.

GSLV-Mk III cost Rs 375 crore and 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 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. Chandrayaan-2 begins 48-day journey to the Moon amid anxiety and euphoria

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.

So far and ahead

September 18, 2008: The then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, approves the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission

July 15, 2019: The launch was deferred barely an hour before the lift-off following a glitch in the three-stage rocket during the propellant-filling phase

July 22: The mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre

The earth-bound phase is now of 23 days. The Lunar Orbit Insertion period would be only of 13 days

September 7: Scheduled to land on lunar surface

The mission

  • Scientific experiment on moon for one lunar day (14 earth days)
  • Orbital experiment will continue for one year
  • The lander Vikram is carrying the rover Pragyan; it will land in a high plain between two craters at a latitude of about 70 degrees south of the moon
  • Then the 27-kg Pragyan, a six-wheeled robotic vehicle, will set out on its job of collecting information on lunar surface

Critical numbers Rs 978 cr is cost of the mission

15 "very crucial manoeuvres" in the next one-and-a-half months before the satellite is brought around the moon

13 payloads, including three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria

First Published: Tue, July 23 2019. 03:02 IST
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