- PM will be accompanied by around 70 school students at ISRO control room
- The students are winners of a quiz competition that was conducted by ISRO
- Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to make a soft-landing on moon at 1:55 am
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was watching Chandrayaan 2 lunar landing live from the ISRO control room, has been briefed by ISRO chief K Sivan on the status of the mission. He later left the control room. PM Modi was accompanied by around 70 school students from across the country to watch the event.
The students are winners of an online quiz competition conducted by ISRO in August, with the top two scorers from each state and union territories invited to watch India join an elite club of countries to have successfully completed a soft landing on the surface of the Moon.
"Two top scoring students (from class 8-10 only) from each state and union territory will be invited to ISRO, Bengaluru Centre to watch the landing of Chandrayaan 2 on the Moon, live along with the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi," terms and conditions of the quiz on the MyGov.in read.
Chandrayaan 2 was expected to make a soft landing on the Moon's surface at around 1.55 am on Saturday, making India only the fourth country to achieve the feat and the first to land near the lunar South Pole on its first attempt.
The Rs 1,000-crore Chandrayaan 2 mission consists of three parts - a lunar orbiter, a lander called Vikram and a rover called Pragyaan.
As part of the next phase of the mission, Pragyaan, which is housed inside Vikram, was to roll out between 5.30 and 6.30 am and deliver two scientific payloads to the Moon's surface. Vikram itself contains three additional payloads to conduct surface and subsurface experiments, and the orbiter carries eight others to map the surface and study the Moon's outer atmosphere.
Chandrayaan 2 began its journey to the Moon on July 22, exactly a week after the first launch attempt was aborted with 56 minutes and 24 seconds on the clock. The launch had been called off after a technical snag was discovered in the unmanned launch vehicle system. ISRO said the decision had been taken "as a measure of abundant precaution".
Undeterred by the failed first attempt, ISRO scientists succeeded in their second and, powered by the GSLV Mark 3 - the country's largest and most powerful rocket - the 3,740-kg Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft lifted off at 2.43 am from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh and successfully entered orbit around Earth minutes later.
Meanwhile, ISRO is also preparing for its ambitious Gaganyaan project that is scheduled for 2022 and will carry three astronauts on a manned mission to space. The three pilots, to be selected from among the armed forces, will be trained by Russia. A shortlist of possible candidates is expected to be completed by next month.
The Gaganyaan programme is expected to cost nearly Rs 10,000 crore; this includes cost of technology development, flight hardware realisation and essential infrastructure elements. The mission will consist of two unmanned flights and one manned flight.