India's first moon mission Chandrayaan-1 entered the lunar space early on Tuesday for its final journey into the lunar orbit on Saturday, an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
"The operation to put Chandrayaan into lunar space went off very well. The complex manouvre was carried out around 5 am by firing the liquid apogee motor (LAM) on board for about 150 seconds to place the unmanned spacecraft 380,000 km away from earth (apogee) and 1,000 km from the moon," ISRO director S. Satish told IANS.
The distance between earth and moon is about 384,000 km.
Preparations for the next major manouvre will begin soon to enable the spacecraft enters lunar orbit on November 8 and positions itself about 100 km from the moon's surface.
"Chandrayaan has commenced its final journey towards the moon and will be inserted into the lunar orbit on Saturday through complex manouvres from the space control centre of ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) in Bangalore," Satish said.
Even as the spacecraft gets ready for its rendezvous with the moon, its terrain-mapping camera (TMC) will shoot pictures of the earth and moon orbiting in 380,000 km (apogee) by 1,000 km (perigee).
"The images will be beamed to Istrac's space centre through electrical signals for processing and developing into high resolution pictures of one-five metres," Satish added.
All functions on board the satellite are performing well and its health parameters are normal. It is also able to send and receive signals from ISRO's deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore.
Chandrayaan is carrying 11 scientific instruments, including six foreign payloads - two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five are indigenously designed and developed by various centres of the state-run ISRO.
The spacecraft was blasted off October 22 on board the 316 tonne polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C11) from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota spaceport, about 80 km north of Chennai.