Chandrayaan-2 (GSLV MK-III): All you need to know about India’s new space mission
One of India’s most ambitious space-based mission, Chandrayaan-2, took flight on 22 July 2019. The brainchild of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the mission will attempt to explore the south polar region of the Moon. It is a region hitherto unexplored by any country.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) got more than what it bargained for on Monday, after the Chandrayaan-2 mission lifted off successfully at 2.43 p.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, SHAR, on its second attempt to place the satellite at an orbit 6,000 km more than what was intended.
On 12 November 2007, representatives of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and ISRO signed an agreement for the two agencies to work together on the Chandrayaan-2 project. ISRO would have the prime responsibility for the orbiter and rover, while Roscosmos was to provide the lander. The Indian government approved the mission in a meeting of the Union Cabinet, held on 18 September 2008 and chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.The design of the spacecraft was completed in August 2009, with scientists of both countries conducting a joint review.
Although ISRO finalised the payload for Chandrayaan-2 per schedule, the mission was postponed in January 2013 and rescheduled to 2016 because Russia was unable to develop the lander on time. Roscosmos later withdrew in wake of the failure of the Fobos-Grunt mission to Mars, since the technical aspects connected with the Fobos-Grunt mission were also used in the lunar projects, which needed to be reviewed. When Russia cited its inability to provide the lander even by 2015, India decided to develop the lunar mission independently.
Delayed yet undeterred
The lunar mission, which was originally planned for July 15, 2019, was delayed when a ‘technical snag’ was discovered just before the final countdown. Chandrayaan-2 will reach its orbit with the help of GSLV MK-III, which is capable of carrying 4-tonne class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
Chandrayan-2 launch site and components
ISRO will launch the Chandrayaan-2 mission to the Moon from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The unmanned mission will be launched onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark-III to “soft land” on the Moon’s South Pole.
This is India’s first attempt to soft-land on the lunar surface and the first-ever attempt by any space agency to soft-land on the South Pole of the Moon. Chandrayaan-2 carries an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. All of these components have been made by the ISRO.
The space mission will help us understand our natural satellite better, through complex topographical studies, and comprehensive mineralogical analysis. These studies will be performed by the lander, ‘Vikram’, named after the space luminary, Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, who spearheaded India’s nascent space programme.
At the time of launch, the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter will be capable of communicating with the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu, as will be capable of communicating with the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu, as well as with ‘Vikram’.
How Chandrayaan-2 would reach the Moon
The distance between the Earth and the Moon can be covered in three to four days if a spacecraft travels directly in a straight line. But ISRO does not have such a powerful rocket like the Saturn V to reach the Moon in one shot. Chandrayaan-2 will ride the GSLV Mk-III rocket, which is the most powerful built by ISRO.
It will go around the Earth’s orbit for a few days, fire thrusters to slowly increase its orbit and eventually acquire enough energy to reach the moon’s orbit.
As per the original schedule, the Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to remain in the earth’s orbit for the first 17 days after the launch and incrementally increase its orbit several times before heading towards the lunar orbit for a five-day journey. Next, the Chandrayaan-2 would have spent 28 days orbiting the moon after which the lander and the rover would have separated and prepared for landing on the surface on September 7. It would have taken the Chandrayaan-2 a total of 54 days to reach the Moon’s surface.
Made in India
India’s Central Tool Room and Training Centre (CTTC) has manufactured 22 types of valves for fuel injection and other parts for the cryogenic engine of the GSLV Mark III rocket. This Bhubaneswar-based institution had started manufacturing the parts for this particular lunar mission in March 2017.
Elaborating on the seven assemblies manufactured by the CTTC for navigation and inertial momentum of the orbiter, Managing Director Sibasis Maity said these were solar array drive assemblies (SADA) to help the solar panels of the orbiter and lander; momentum wheel assembly (MWA), reaction wheel assembly (RWA), dynamically tuned gyroscope (DTG), ISRO laser gyroscope (ILG), mini advanced inertial navigation system (AINS) and rate gyro electronic package device (RGPD).
Chandrayaan-2 to land on Moon on September 7, 2019
The mission would see the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft make a soft-landing on the moon’s surface 48 days from now, on September 7. Both of them will be ‘alive’ there for 14 days, during which they will carry out various experiments and collect data.
Every Indian is proud of our scientists and engineers at ISRO (Jai Hind)
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