India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 will cruise closer to the moon early on Tuesday when it makes the transition from the earth's elliptical orbit into deeper space, a top space agency official said on Monday.
"The liquid apogee motor (LAM) on board will be fired around 5.00 am on Tuesday for about five minutes to make the transition and position the spacecraft at about 500 km from the moon's surface and over 384,000 km away from the earth," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS in Bangalore.
The complex manoeuvres will be carried out from the spacecraft's control room at ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) in coordination with its deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore.
"Additional velocity will be given to the spacecraft to enter the lunar orbit on Saturday (Nov 8) for a rendezvous with the moon. With calibrated firing of its LAMs, it will be inserted into its designated orbit, which will be about 100 km from the lunar surface," Satish said.
Chandrayaan-1 has been spinning around the earth in an elliptical orbit at 267,000 km apogee (farthest from earth) and 465 km perigee (nearest to earth) since Oct 29.
"In the present orbit, Chandrayaan has taken six days to go round the earth once. The spacecraft performance is being monitored closely and its health parameters are normal," Satish added.
Chandrayaan carries 11 scientific instruments, including six foreign payloads - two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The other five are indigenously designed and developed by various centres of the state-run ISRO.
The spacecraft was launched Oct 22 on board the 316-tonne polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C11) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport off the Andhra Pradesh coast, about 80 km north of Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.