On September 2, the Vikram Lander successfully separated from India’s largest moon mission Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter and today it moved closer to the lunar surface after a maneuver that lasted four seconds to lower its orbit further.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it was at 8:50 am when the first “de-boost” maneuver to lower its altitude was performed. It also said that another maneuver is scheduled tomorrow before the lander attempts to touchdown near the moon’s south pole on September 7 at 1:40 am.
The historic landing will be observed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi from ISRO’s control room. “The first de-orbiting maneuver for Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft was performed successfully today beginning at 0850 hours as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the maneuver was four seconds,” said ISRO in a post on its website.
“The orbit of Vikram Lander is 104 km x 128 km. Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the moon in the existing orbit and both the orbiter and lander are healthy,” ISRO said.
“The operation was great in the sense that we were able to separate the lander and rover from the orbiter—It is the first time in the history of Isro that we’ve separated two modules in space. This was very critical and we did it very meticulously,” Isro chairman K Sivan told sources after the separation.
“We are looking at starting the powered descent at 1.40 am or 1.45 am. The landing must happen 15 minutes after that,” Sivan added.
The Vikram is aimed to explore the south polar region of the moon which has remained little explored till the date. Most of the lunar landings have taken place in the northern region or in the equatorial region.
Previously, in an attempt, China landed in the northern part after Russia’s Luna missions. Most of the American lunar landings, including Apollo missions, were in the moon’s equatorial region. India will become the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to make a successful landing on the moon.
ISRO says that there are many other nations that are investing resources to reach the moon’s south pole which is untouched by sunlight for billions of years. Its permanently shadowed craters are estimated to hold nearly 100 million tons of water.