India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1, successfully launched the 3840 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an earth orbit on July 22.
The spacecraft is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km. Today’s flight marks the first operational flight of the GSLV Mk III.
After a smooth countdown lasting 20 hours, GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle majestically lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at the scheduled launch time of 1443 Hrs (2:43 pm) Indian Standard Time (IST) with the ignition of its two S200 solid strap-on motors. All the subsequent flight events occurred as scheduled.
ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan congratulated the launch vehicle and satellite teams involved in this challenging mission. “Today is a historical day for Space Science and Technology in India. I am extremely happy to announce that GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit of 6000 Km more than the intended orbit and is better.”
“Today is the beginning of the historical journey of India towards Moon and to land at a place near South Pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored,” Dr. Sivan said.
In the coming days, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be carried out using Chandrayaan-2’s onboard propulsion system. This will raise the spacecraft orbit in steps and then place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory to enable the spacecraft to travel to the vicinity of the Moon.
GSLV Mk III is a three-stage launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. The vehicle is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon. It comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander.
The mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. On the science front, this mission aims to further expand our knowledge about the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon.