Two days after being launched and placed in an earth orbit, Chandrayaan-2, India’s first attempt to land on the moon, made its first orbit-raising manoeuvre on Wednesday afternoon and moved into a higher orbit.
The onboard propulsion system of the spacecraft fired for 48 seconds shortly before 3 pm on Wednesday, and moved into a new elliptical orbit, that is 230 km from the earth’s surface at its nearest point, and 45,163 km at its furthest, a statement from ISRO said.
On Monday, after being launched, Chandrayaan-2 had been placed into an orbit that was 170 km at its nearest and 45,475 km at the furthest.
“First earth bound orbit raising manoeuvre for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft has been performed successfully today at 1452 hrs IST as planned, using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of 48 seconds,” ISRO said.
Over the next 12 days, Chandrayaan-2 will raise its orbit four more times, eventually reaching an orbit that would be 233 km at the nearest point and 143,953 km at the furthest. With each orbit-raising manoeuvre, the spacecraft would gain energy that would eventually be adequate for it to leave the orbit around the earth and move towards the moon.
ISRO said the next raising of orbit would happen on Friday (July 26), followed by similar operations on July 29, August 2 and August 6. The spacecraft would continue to move in the final earth orbit for eight more days, before breaking out and moving towards the moon on August 14. It is scheduled to enter a lunar orbit on August 20, ISRO said.
While the Orbiter is designed to go around in a lunar orbit 100 km from the moon’s surface for a year, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover would separate from the main spacecraft on September 3, move into a lower orbit, and finally descend on the lunar surface on September 7.