Chandrayaan-2: 20-hour countdown for India’s second moon mission begins
The countdown to the lift-off of India’s heavy rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 commenced on Sunday at 1843 hours IST, according to space agency ISRO. After being aborted at the eleventh hour due to a technical snag last week, the launch has been scheduled for 1443 hours IST on July 22.
In less than 24 hours from now, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the nation’s first lunar landing mission, in what has been described as one of the most complex missions ever undertaken by the space agency.
The launch of Chandrayaan 2 was called off last week as the rocket was not functioning according to laid down parameters, sources at ISRO had said, adding that the strategy was to launch the mission as quickly as possible.
The GSLV Mark III carrying the orbiter, lander, and rover was scheduled to take off at 0251hours last Monday morning from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, the country’s only launch site, but the countdown clock was stopped 56 minutes before the scheduled time.
There were four suitable window periods for the launch in the month of July – July 15 and 16 and then again during new moon on July 29 and 30.
Sixteen minutes into its flight, the Rs 375 crore GSLV-Mk III rocket is expected to launch the Rs 603 crore Chandrayaan-2 into an Earth parking orbit.
Known as ISRO’s most powerful launcher and measuring 44 metres in height, the 640-tonne rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) that will launch Chandrayaan-2, has been nicknamed ‘Bahubali’. The three-stage vehicle is capable of launching 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
The distance between the Earth and the moon is about 3.844 lakh km.
Chandrayaan-2 will separate from the rocket 973.7 seconds after its launch. The landing on the surface of the moon will take place 54 days after the launch. The lander-orbiter separation will take place on the 50th day.
At the time of launch, the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter will be capable of communicating with the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu, as well as with the Vikram lander. The mission life of the Orbiter is one year, during which it will be placed in a 100 x 100 km lunar polar orbit.
Chandrayaan 2’s lander is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Pragyan rover. The lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface at a touchdown velocity of 2 metres per second.
During the countdown, the rocket and the spacecraft’s systems will once again undergo checks and fuel will be filled to power the rocket engines.
Incidentally, GSLV-Mk III will also be used for India’s manned space mission slated in 2022.