India’s much celebrated and ambitious lunar mission Chandrayaan 2 has left the earth’s orbit and is heading towards the moon. The satellite is another step closer to the moon after the "Trans Lunar Insertion (TLI) manoeuvre was carried out successfully at 2.21 am as planned," said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
An orbit raising manoeuvre is the process of raising a satellite into an orbit towards the moon, while it still revolves around the Earth. Chandrayaan 2 is ISRO's most complex and prestigious mission and if successful, will make India the fourth country to soft land a rover on the lunar surface after Russia, US and China. Israel failed in its maiden attempt to do the same earlier this year.
The 3.8 tonne satellite will now cruise for the next six days and is expected to reach the moon's orbit on August 20.
"Following this, there will be four orbit maneuvers to make the spacecraft enter its final orbit, passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the moon's surface," ISRO said.
After 13 days of the moon-bound orbit phase, the spacecraft will engage "Vikram", a 1.4-tonne lander, which will in turn set the 27-kg rover "Pragyan" down on a high plain between two craters on the lunar south pole. It is expected to soft land on the moon on September 7.
After the landing, the rover will carry out experiments on the moon's surface for one lunar day, which is equal to 14 earth days. The mission life of the lander is also one lunar day, while the orbiter will continue its mission for a year.