Chandrayaan-2 comes 10 years after ISRO launched its first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1, in 2009. For a launch vehicle to cover this distance, which is the GSLV Mark III in this case, it follows several steps. To showcase the progress, ISRO has invited journalists at its Bengaluru testing facility where we got our first look at the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter and the Vikram Lander.
The Chandrayaan 2, a domestically-built spacecraft which will have an orbiter, a lander, and a rover, is set to lift off between July 9 and 16, Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has said.
Chandrayaan-1 in 2008 orbited the moon and ejected a probe that discovered water-bearing molecules in craters at the moon's poles, with the highest density inside permanently shadowed craters at the South Pole.
"We have left no stone unturned to make the lunar soft landing a success", Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, the country's equivalent to NASA, told reporters at the headquarters in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru. "The rover will analyse the content of the lunar surface and send data and images back to the earth", he said.
After launch into earth-bound orbit by GSLV MK-III, the integrated module will reach the Moon orbit using Orbiter propulsion module.
From the time of Lander landing on the surface to theRover to come out and land on the surface will take four hours, according to him. After four more days, the lander will land in a hard manouevre that lasts 15 minutes. The orbiter will carry eight, the lander three and the rover two. "It will take 15 minutes to land and will be the most terrifying moment because ISRO has never undertaken such a flight", said Sivan. "We might have landing pictures within 15 minutes". The landing area in South Pole was chosen as it has no craters or boulders and is almost flat with very good visibility due to solar light, he added. The Rover will function inside the Lander and it will be released after Lander lands on the lunar space.
Under the almost Rs 1,000 crore mission, the landing on the moon near the South Pole would be on September 6 or 7 on an uncharted territory, ISRO chairman K Sivan said.
He said the satellite would look for imaging of rocks for chemical elements such as magnesium and calcium, for signs of water, and will also study the exosphere of the moon.
Once the rover is out - its exit timed to the dawn of a new day on the Moon - it will communicate with Earth directly because it will have line of sight, as will the orbiter.