Chandrayaan-2 Landing: ISRO All Set To Soft-Land Vikram Lander, Roll Out Pragyan Rover On Moon
ISRO scientists at ISTRAC Bengaluru monitoring the Chandrayaan-2 ahead of Vikram lander’s soft-landing and roll out of Pragyan rover in the wee hours of Saturday. (Photo: Twitter/@isro)

Chandrayaan-2 Landing: ISRO All Set To Soft-Land Vikram Lander, Roll Out Pragyan Rover On Moon


Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday extended his best wishes to the Indian Space Research Organisation for Chandrayaan-2’s impending landing on the moon, saying that the lunar mission manifests the best of Indian talent and spirit of tenacity.

This, after ISRO on Friday said everything related to the soft-landing of Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander on the lunar south pole is going as per plan. "We are eagerly waiting for the event. Everything is going according to the plan," said ISRO Chairman K Sivan.

The touchdown of the Vikram lander is scheduled between 1:30 am and 2:30 am, followed by the rollout of the 'Pragyan' rover between 5:30 am. and 6:30 am.

The soft-landing will be telecast live from 1:10 am on Doordarshan, webcast on the ISRO website and streamed on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

The prime minister will join students selected from across India, mediapersons and others to watch the final descent of the Vikram lander, at ISRO's Telemetry Tracking and Command Network in Bengaluru.

"Certainly there is lot of anxiety in the minds of the entire (Chandrayaan-2) team because it's a very complex operation and we are doing it for the first time," said a senior official associated with the mission.

"Everything...sensors, computers, command systems...has to work perfectly. But we are confident in the sense we have conducted a large number of simulations on the ground; it gives us the confidence it would go alright," the official said.

He described Chandrayaan-2’s soft-landing as "almost like placing a baby on the cradle". "There is certain amount of anxiety but there is no fear,” the official said.

The 1,471-kg 'Vikram' lander, named after Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai, father of the Indian space programme, is designed to execute a soft-landing on the lunar surface, and to function for one lunar day—equivalent to about 14 earth days.

Chandrayaan-2's 27 kg 'Pragyan' rover can travel up to 500 metres from the landing spot on the Moon and leverages solar power for its functioning.

"The lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and sub-surface science experiments, while the rover carries two payloads to enhance our understanding of the lunar surface," according to ISRO.

'Vikram' will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft-land on the lunar south pole between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, on Sept. 7.

A few hours later, the Pragyan rover will roll down from the 'Vikram' lander and will explore the surrounding lunar terrain.

Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 launched more than a decade ago, comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan).

The mission life of the orbiter will be one year while that of the lander and rover will be one lunar day which is equal to 14 earth days.

A successful touchdown will make India the fourth country after Russia, the U.S. and China to achieve a soft-landing on the moon, and the first to launch a mission to the unexplored south polar region.

The Chandrayaan-2 is a Rs 978 crore unmanned moon mission (satellite cost Rs 603 crore, GSLV MK III cost Rs 375 crore). India's Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully launched the 3,840-kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into Earth's orbit on July 22.

The spacecraft began its journey towards the moon leaving the earth's orbit in the dark hours on Aug. 14, after a crucial manoeuvre called Trans Lunar Insertion that was carried out by ISRO to place the spacecraft on "Lunar Transfer Trajectory."

The spacecraft successfully entered the lunar orbit on Aug. 20 by performing Lunar Orbit Insertion manoeuvre.

On Sept. 2, 'Vikram' successfully separated from the orbiter, following which two de-orbiting manoeuvres were performed to bring the lander closer to the Moon.

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from Mission Operations Complex at ISTRAC in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru.

Also read: After Chandrayaan-2, Godrej Aerospace Is Readying For India’s Manned Mission To Space

The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon, according to ISRO officials.

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