India's ambitious second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 has successfully raised its orbit around the Earth for the second time early on Friday, taking the spacecraft one step closer to the Moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
The 15-minute Earth-bound manoeuvre was carried out at 1.08 am using the spacecraft's on-board propulsion system, the space agency said in a statement.
According to ISRO officials, Earth bound orbit is a phase during which the spacecraft will remain in the Earth's sphere of influence.
With the latest manoeuvre, Chandrayaan-2 has been pushed to an orbit with a perigee -- nearest point to Earth -- of 251 kilometres (km) and an apogee -- farthest point to the Earth -- of 54,829 km, it said.
On the day of launch on July 22, the spacecraft was injected into an elliptical Earth orbit with a perigee of 169.7 km and an apogee of 45,475 km and this was further raised in the first manoeuvre on Wednesday.
ISRO said all the parameters of the spacecraft were normal and the third orbit raising manoeuvre will be performed on July 29.
In a giant leap for the country's ambitious low-cost space programme, ISRO's most powerful three-stage rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 had launched the spacecraft into the orbit of the Earth on July 22 from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The agency has planned a total of 15 orbit raising manoeuvres before the 3,850 kilogramme (kg) three-module Chandrayaan-2 comprising an orbiter, lander and rover is brought around the Moon, which is at a distance of nearly four lakh kms from the Earth.
The Earth-bound manoeuvres will culminate into "Trans Lunar Insertion", scheduled on August 14, and a week later "Lunar Orbit Insertion" will take place when the spacecraft will start revolving around the Moon.
According to ISRO, after 13 days of Moon-bound orbit phase, the lander ''Vikram'' carrying rover ''Pragyan'' will separate and after another few days of orbiting will soft land on September 7 in the South Pole region of the Moon, where no country has gone so far, according to the ISRO.
If successful, the mission will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to pull off a soft landing on the Moon.
The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon while the lander carries three scientific payloads to conduct surface and subsurface science experiments.
The rover carries two payloads to enhance the understanding of the lunar surface. A passive experiment from NASA will also be carried onboard Chandrayaan-2, ISRO has said.