India’s first spacecraft to the Moon, Chandrayaan-I, is all set to take off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota at 6.20 am on October 22, assuming a fine weather and “by the grace” of Lord Balaji of Tirupati.
More than 1,000 engineers, scientists and experts in this spaceport on the East Coast in Andhra Pradesh are struggling for two months to ensure a smooth launch. The 3.84-lakh-km journey to the moon will be powered by the PSLV-C11 launch vehicle, carrying one of its heaviest payloads in 15 years.
But the launch day coincides with the onset of the northeast monsoon in the South, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has, for the first time, put together a seven-member team of meteorologists to camp here from October 16 and provide updates to ISRO scientists.
Though the launch vehicle is rainproof and wind-sturdy, adverse conditions could slightly change the launch schedule, ISRO officials told visiting journalists here on Saturday after seeing the second launch pad. the spacecraft is expected to be in the moon’s orbit on November 8, they said.
The IDSN has two state-of-the-art radars that will track the spacecraft’s journey to the moon, give it instructions and monitor its health.
The officials said the spacecraft has already reached Sriharikota from Bangalore. Journalists had a glimpse of the white and brown-coated 44.4-metre-tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ready to receive the satellite.
An official said by October 18, the Chandrayaan would be “mated with” the PSLV, and the vehicle would be moved to the launch pad. The final countdown will begin 52 hours before the launch window on October 22.