CHANDRAYAAN-2’s landing module ‘Vikram’ will begin its final descent to pull off a historic soft landing on the lunarsurface in the early hours of Saturday, as the Indian Space Research Organisation awaits with bated breath for the “terrifying moment.” A successful landing will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to achieve a soft landing on the moon. But it will be the first to launch a mission to the unexplored lunar south pole. Joined by about 60-70 high school students from across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present atthe ISRO centre in Bengaluru to witness live the space feat,according to officials.
‘Vikram’ with rover ‘Pragyaan’ housed inside is scheduled for a powered-descent between 1 AM and 2 AM on September 7, followed by its touchdown between 1.30 AM and 2.30 AM. The lander is now in an orbit that would be about 35 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point from where it will begin its final descent. ISRO has said Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft land the lander and rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70 south. ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the proposed soft landing on the Moon was going to be a “terrifying” moment as the ISRO has not done it before, where as Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre was successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
Explaining the landing manoeuvres, Sivan had said once the manoeuvre starts from about 30 km to land on thesurface of the moon, it will take 15 minutes. “This 15 minutes travel of lander is new to ISRO. It is for the first time we are going to another body where there is no atmosphere and using the propulsion system we will have to break the velocity and bring the vehicle safely to soft land. To achieve this we will have to balance between the gravity and thrust. So we have to modulate the thrust of the engine,” he had said. Following the landing, the rover ‘Pragyaan’ will roll out from ‘Vikram’ between 5.30 AM and 6.30 AM.
‘Let’s pray for soft-landing of Chandrayaan-2’
“LET’S pray for the successful soft-landing” — that pretty much sums up the mood at ISRO ahead of Saturday’s highly crucial event of the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Nervous and anxious for sure but the city-headquartered space agency is cautiously optimistic of “Vikram” module’s soft-landing on the Lunar surface planned in the early hours of Saturday between 1.30 am and 2.30 am. “Everybody is tight-lipped. I am also tight lipped. Let the event be over”, a senior official associated with the mission said on Thursday. “Every body’s mind is only on what’s happening in the (Chandrayaan-2) spacecraft and lander (‘Vikram’). Let’s all pray for the successful soft-landing,” the official said. Chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) K Sivan recently said that the space agency “had done everything humanly possible” for the mission’s success.
Top space scientists have also expressed confidence about the success of the ambitious venture. “It’s going to be a remarkable event (soft-landing) and we are all looking forward to it. I am sure it will be a 100 per cent success”, former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, who spearheaded the Chandrayaan-1 mission more than a decade ago, told PTI. Another former ISRO Chairman, A S Kiran Kumar, described proposed soft-landing as one of very critical operations. “So far, whatever has been done in comparison to that now we are entering the most critical phase, and up to now, all things have gone as per plan and expectation is every thing will go as per the plan”, Kumar told PTI.
A Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 and programme director of Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission, noted that ISRO had the experience of undertaking more than 40 GEO (Geosyncronous Equatorial Orbit) missions. “I am sure it (soft-landing) will go through”, Annadurai said, adding, ISRO had conducted many tests before the launch and he was part of the review team in some of them.