- ISRO said "de-boost" manoeuvre to lower altitude performed today
- Another manoeuvre is scheduled tomorrow
- Lander Vikram scheduled to touch down on moon on September 7
The moon lander Vikram, which separated from India's spacecraft Chandrayaan 2 on Monday, inched closer to the lunar surface today after a manoeuvre that lasted four seconds to lower its orbit further.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the first "de-boost" manoeuvre to lower its altitude was performed at 8:50 am. Another manoeuvre is scheduled tomorrow before the lander attempts a touchdown near the moon's south pole on September 7 at 1:40 am. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will see the historic landing from the space agency's control room.
"The first de-orbiting manoeuvre for Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft was performed successfully today beginning at 0850 hours as planned, using the onboard propulsion system. The duration of the manoeuvre was four seconds," ISRO said in a post on its website.
"The orbit of Vikram Lander is 104 km x 128 km. Chandrayaan 2 orbiter continues to orbit the moon in the existing orbit and both the orbiter and lander are healthy," ISRO said.
The Vikram is heading to a region on the moon that is little explored till date - most lunar landings have taken place in the northern hemisphere or in the equatorial region.
An older mission by China landed in the northernmost part, followed by Russia's Luna missions. Most of the American lunar landings, including Apollo missions, were in the moon's equatorial region. China currently has a rover on the dark side of the moon.
The success of the Chandrayaan 2 mission will make India the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to pull off a soft landing on the moon.
ISRO says other nations are also investing resources to reach the moon's south pole. The moon's craters in the south pole have been untouched by sunlight for billions of years - offering an undisturbed record of the solar system's origins. Its permanently shadowed craters are estimated to hold nearly 100 million tons of water.
Considering ISRO's budget is less than 1/20th of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a success story for the Rs 1,000-crore moon mission, which cost less than Hollywood blockbuster 'Avengers: Endgame', would be a giant boost for India's space plans.