Chandrayaan 2: Fourth orbit-raising of spacecraft performed successfully, ISRO confirms

The spacecraft will undergo a series of in-orbit manoeuvres in weeks to come to bring it in the vicinity of the moon.

The fourth earth-bound orbit-raising manoeuvre of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft has been successfully performed today on Friday evening, the Indian Space Research Organisation confirmed in a tweet.

The manoeuvre was carried out at 3.27 pm IST using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of 646 seconds, a day after the third orbit-raising was completed, placing the spacecraft in a  277 x 89472 km orbit (nearest x furthest Earth-bound altitude), according to ISRO. The final orbit achieved by the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft after the third orbit-raising is 276 X 71,792 km.

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

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

ISRO also reported that all the spacecraft parameters were normal, and the fifth orbit-raising is scheduled for 6 August, Monday at about 2.30-3.30 pm IST.

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.

"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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