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Chandrayaan-2 is ready to shoot free of Earth for final lap to Moon

Chandrayaan-2, which took off on 22 July, is currently in orbit around the Earth, and has completed five orbit-raising manoeuvres. 

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Bengaluru: ISRO announced Tuesday the completion of all Earth-bound manoeuvres by Chandrayaan-2, India’s landmark second lunar mission that took off on 22 July. 

The spacecraft is currently in orbit around the Earth, and has completed five orbit-raising manoeuvres. It is now getting ready to set off for the Moon and is expected to move to a trans-lunar trajectory on 14 August. 

At the moment, the orbiter and the lander are stacked together, with the Vikram lander — named after the renowned Indian space scientist Vikram Sarabhai — sitting on top of the orbiter. 

Chandrayaan-2 will reach the moon’s vicinity on 20 August. It will then reorient itself to fire its retro thrusters and slow down. The spacecraft will enter the lunar orbit over a period of 13 days, settling into its final orbit on 1 September

After Chandrayaan-2 enters the lunar orbit, the lander will attempt a soft landing near the South Pole of the Moon on 7 SeptemberThe lander houses a rover called Pragyan, which will be released upon touchdown.

Meanwhile, the Chandrayaan-2 team has released the first-ever set of pictures from the mission — images of the Earth, taken by a camera present on the Vikram lander. 

Also read: Chandrayaan-2 ‘cheaper than Interstellar’, but India’s space ambition can’t be about cost

Earth to Moon

As reported earlier by ThePrint, the rocket that launched Chandrayaan-2, the GSLV Mk-III, is not powerful enough to drop a spacecraft directly onto a path to the Moon.

Instead, the rocket’s fourth stage injected Chandrayaan-2 into the Earth’s orbit. 

The spacecraft was programmed to then perform a series of orbit-raising manoeuvres around the Earth. With each of these manoeuvres, it used the planet’s gravity to gain some more altitude, before finally escaping the Earth’s gravitational pull.

Wooing the public

The success of Chandrayaan-2 will make India just the fourth nation to land on the Moon after the US, the erstwhile USSR, and China. But besides its expected scientific impact, ISRO is also hoping to tap the mission to enhance the space agency’s public outreach.

Ahead of the take-off, it set up a viewing centre on the Sriharikota launch premises that can accommodate 5,000 viewers, and has also announced a quiz for school students. Winners will be invited to the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru to watch the Vikram landing live. 

Also read: Chandrayaan-2 launch proves India is a major player in the race for space dominance


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