Chandrayaan 2: Fifth orbit-raising of spacecraft completed successfully, ISRO confirms

ISRO reported that the spacecraft's parameters were normal, the Trans Lunar insertion is scheduled for 14 August


The fifth earth-bound orbit-raising manoeuvres of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft has been successfully completed Tuesday afternoon, as planned, the Indian Space Research Organisation confirmed in a tweet.

The manoeuvre was carried out at 3.04 pm IST using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of 1041 seconds (~17 minutes), four days after the fourth orbit-raising was completed, placing the spacecraft in a 276 x 142975 km orbit (nearest x furthest Earth-bound altitude), according to ISRO. The final orbit achieved by the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft after the fourth orbit-raising is  277 x 89472 km.

ISRO also reported that all the spacecraft parameters were normal. The next step will be the Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) that is scheduled for the afternoon of 14 August at 3.00 pm - 4.00 pm IST.

The TLI is a manoeuvre of thrusts used to set the spacecraft on the moon-bound path. After this, the Chandrayaan 2 composite will take less than a week to arrive in the proximity of the moon. This manoeuver will place the spacecraft on a 266 x 4,13,623 orbit that will end in the next stage of the mission: lunar transfer.

Chandrayaan 2: Fifth orbit-raising of spacecraft completed successfully, ISRO confirms

Illustration of the orbit-raising of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft in its Earth-bound phase. Image: ISRO

On 22 July, India launched the country's second moon mission, Chandrayaan 2, aboard the most powerful rocket in ISRO's arsenal, the GSLV-MkIII-M1, from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The mission was primarily aimed at landing a rover in the unexplored lunar south pole. The 3,850-kg, Rs 978-crore spacecraft is a three-module composite made up of an orbiter, lander, and rover. On its planned 48-day journey between liftoff and landing on the Moon's South Pole, the composite will be subjected to a series of orbital manoeuvres to bring it to the moon's vicinity.

(Also read: Chandrayaan 2: A step-by-step look at the 47-day journey after its spectacularly successful launch)

"Further major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, Trans Lunar Insertion, Lunar bound manoeuvres, Vikram Separation and Vikram Touch Down," the space agency said.

As per ISRO's schedule, the Vikram lander will attempt a soft-landing on the moon on  7 September, and open its hatch for the Pragyan rover to take its first few rolls onto lunar soil four hours later. The landing site of the mission is closer to the South Pole than any mission before it.

ISRO said that the earth-bound manoeuvres are planned from 24 July onwards, culminating in the fifth and final orbit-raising on 14 August 2019, setting Chandrayaan 2 on its way to the moon. ISRO has called the mission its most complex and prestigious mission ever. If successful, Chandrayaan 2 will propel India to an elite list of four nations (including Russia, the US and China) that have pulled off a soft-landing on the moon.

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