India’s mission to the moon, Chandrayaan 2 is scheduled to make a soft landing on the lunar surface at 1.55 am Indian Standard Time (IST) on Saturday, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Its moon lander ‘Vikram’, which has already separated from the orbiting Chandrayaan 2, is looking to create history by landing close to the Moon’s south pole - making India the first nation to reach closest to this area of the moon.
Vikram has already performed two manoeuvres designed to lower its altitude. Once it is 100 m above the lunar surface, it will pick a landing site between two craters Manzinus and Simpelius, which are about 350 km north of the moon’s south pole. Once it has decided on the perfect landing spot, Vikram will make a soft landing between 1.30 am and 2.30 am IST on Saturday.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by schoolchildren, will watch the historic landing live from the space agency's control room.
The rover ‘Pragyan’ will roll out from the moon lander between 5:30 am and 6:30 am IST and will proceed to carry out research, including mapping the moon's resources, looking for the presence of water and clicking high-resolution images.
Chandrayaan 2, India’s most ambitious space mission ever, had lifted off from the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on July 22.
If successful, this will make India the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to succeed in a soft landing on the moon. Additionally, the lander Vikram is set to touch down in an area that is little explored, with most lunar landings having taken place in the northern area of the moon.