India’s Chandrayaan 2 has successfully entered the manoeuvred into lunar orbit today, after nearly 30 days of space travel. This was one of the trickiest operations in the mission.
“Our heart almost stopped for 30 minutes until the job was done… Three more manoeuvres are to be completed. The next is tomorrow around 1 pm. The big event is on September 2 when the lander will be separated,” a visibly excited ISRO Chairman K Sivan told reporters today.
The operation is tricky because of the approach velocity (velocity at which your reference body is approaching the target) should be exact and even a small error would have killed the mission.
High velocity: Chandrayaan 2 would have bounced off and would get lost in the space.
Low Velocity: The moon’s gravity would have crashed Chandrayaan 2.
Undoubtedly, it was a heart-skipping moment.
“Following this, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the moon’s surface,” the Indian Space Research Organisation said in a post on its website today.
“Subsequently, the lander will separate from the orbiter and enter into a 100 km x 30 km orbit around the moon. Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft-land in the south polar region of the moon on September 7, 2019,” ISRO said.
M Annadurai, who was the head of India’s first moon mission Chandrayaan 1, described the complexity of the operation: “It is like a gentleman with a rose in hand proposing to a lady who is dancing at a stunning speed of 3,600 kilometres per hour (almost five times the speed of an airplane), and not next door, but at a distance of 3.84 lakh kilometres away. If the couple have to meet, then the precision and accuracy is of utmost importance.”