India's Chandrayaan-2 successfully enters moon's orbit

Pablo Tucker
August 21, 2019

"Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuver was completed successfully today (August 20, 2019) at 0902 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system". It has been reported that the budget of ISRO is less than 20 times that of USA's NASA.

In order to save fuel, India's space agency has chosen a circuitous route to take advantage of the Earth's gravity, which will help slingshot the satellite towards the Moon. If successful, India will join the elite league of the US, Russia, and China which have accomplished such landings but on other parts of the Moon.

The unmanned spacecraft's Vikram lander is expected to reach the lunar surface next month, taking India into an exclusive group of countries that have successfully landed on the Moon. Precision was especially crucial in the manoeuvre as it was meant to slow down the spacecraft to just the right level so that it would neither bounce off the lunar orbit nor crash on the lunar surface.

As ISRO scientists started firing Chandrayaan-2's onboard liquid engine to put the spacecraft in an orbit around the Moon, Sivan said: "our heartbeat increased".

Mr Sivan said: "On September 7, the lander will land on the moon. Whatever is humanly possible, has been done by us".

Today's operation was one of the mission's most hard because the spacecraft's velocity had to be just right.

For the mission to be a success, it needs to move in exactly the same velocity, gradually slowing down as it approaches the pre-determined distance and inclination between its orbit from the Moon.

"For 30 minutes today, our heart was nearly stopping", Sivan said. "To ensure it gets into the orbit around moon, the manoeuvre reduced the velocity from 2.4km per second to 2.1 km per second", Sivan said.

The mission life of Orbiter would be one year, whereas that of lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan) would be one Lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days.

The rocket weighed 640 tonnes, approximately 1.5 times the weight of a fully-loaded 747 jumbo jet and, at 144ft (44m), is as high as a 14-storey building. The 13 desi payloads on board the orbiter, lander and rover will do a detailed study of topography, seismography, mineral identification and distribution, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics of top soil and composition of the tenuous lunar atmosphere for a new understanding of the origin and evolution of Moon.

Now that the lunar capture, or entry of the spacecraft into lunar orbit, was completed without a hitch or glitch, the two-week (lunar-bound) phase of the mission begins.

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