With launch of Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the moon, is just a few days away, engineers at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have already integrated the GSLV MK-III vehicle with the encapsulated assembly of the much-awaited lunar mission, scheduled to take off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) in Sriharikota at about 2:15 am on July 15, 2019. The landing on the moon near the South Pole, an uncharted territory so far, would be on September 6 or 7.
The vehicle will be moved to the launch pad in the next three days and will go through various tests to ensure safety ahead of the launch. So far, the engineers have conducted the radio frequency checks of the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft and also completed the equipment bay camera cowling assembly, according to a report, published on Deccan Chronicle.
Earlier in June, the ISRO unveiled the first module picture of India's second lunar mission from the ISRO Satellite Integration and Test Establishment in Bengaluru where the final round of testing was underway.
The spacecraft, with a mass of 3.8 tonnes, has three modules -- Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The orbiter would have eight payloads, Lander three and Rover two. The mission cost of Chandrayaan-2 with regard to the satellite was Rs 603 crore. The cost of GSLV MK III is Rs 375 crore.
According to the ISRO, Orbiter, with scientific payloads, would orbit around the moon. Lander would soft-land on the moon at a predetermined site and deploy Rover. The scientific payloads on board Orbiter, Lander and Rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface. The Orbiter and Lander modules would be interfaced mechanically and stacked together as an integrated module and accommodated inside the GSLV MK-III launch vehicle. Rover is housed inside Lander.
After the launch into an earth-bound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module would reach the moon orbit using the orbiter propulsion module and subsequently, Lander would separate from Orbiter and soft land at the predetermined site, close to the lunar South Pole. Rover would roll out for carrying out scientific experiments on the lunar surface, ISRO said, noting that instruments were also mounted on Lander and Orbiter for carrying out scientific experiments.
Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched about 10 years ago. Chandrayaan-1 had 11 payloads, five from India, three from Europe, two from the US and one from Bulgaria, and the mission had the credit for the discovery of water on the lunar surface. The 1.4-tonne spacecraft was launched using PSLV and the orbiter had orbited 100 km from the lunar surface.
Meanwhile, astronomy enthusiasts who are waiting eagerly to watch the prestigious and most complex mission of the ISRO can register their details on the website isro.gov.in. As many as 4,800 people have registered to witness the launch within 24 hours of the registration being opened at 12 am on July 4. However, the registration process was put on hold following some technical glitches in the software. SDSC officials said the issue will be restored shortly but only 10,000 registrations will be accepted for the same.