Chandrayaan-I cleared the first hurdle during its long cruise towards the Moon on Thursday and the “spacecraft is doing fine”, said project director Dr M. Annadurai.
The orbiter was nudged to a distance of 37,900 km from Earth, up from the 23,860 km it attained after being hoisted into space by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on Wednesday.
It circled the Earth once in six-and-half hours during the first 24 hours and has responded well to all commands beamed from the Deep Space Network station at Byalalu, about 40 km from here, and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command facility.
“We moved it to the precise orbit by firing the motor onboard for 1,058 seconds at 9.00 am. The first hurdle has been cleared and we hope everything goes off well till we take Chandrayaan-I to its orbit at 100 km from the Moon — about 3,84,000 km from Earth — on November 8. We checked many parameters. The spacecraft is doing fine,” said the project director.
Over the next fortnight, Dr Annadurai said, the orbiter would be prodded further through similar firing of the motor onboard. The next orbit-raising manoeuvre would be carried out on Friday to push Chandrayaan-I to 70,000 km, followed by the third such operation after a gap of two days to achieve a distance of 100,000 km. Four days later, the motor will be fired again to drive the orbiter to about 2,75,00 km. The final manoeuvre would be done after another gap of five-and-half days for it to reach the distance of 3,84,000 km.
Some minor corrections would be made to ensure the orbiter remains within the gravity of the Moon, followed by switching on of 11 instruments onboard.
Dr Annadurai said the Moon Impact Probe with a miniature tri-colour painted on it would crash into the lunar surface on November 15. Space scientists plan to map the entire lunar surface for a detailed picture on composition of the soil (presence of minerals, chemicals, water etc).