GSLV MkIII-M1 Successfully Launches Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft


New Delhi,  22 July,  2019 (GPN)  : India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1, successfully launched the3840 kg Screenshot_20190722_182017Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an earth orbit today. The spacecraft isnow 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 theGSLV Mk III.

After a smooth countdown lasting 20 hours, GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle majestically lifted off fromthe Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh atthe scheduled launch time of 1443Hrs (2:43 pm) Indian Standard Time (IST) with the ignition ofits two S200 solid strap-on motors. All the subsequent flight events occurred as scheduled.

Caption:The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, GSLV MkIII-M1 rocket, carrying Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, lifting off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Monday, July 22, 2019.

About 16 minutes 14 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle injected Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into anelliptical earth orbit. Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array ofthe spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and CommandNetwork (ISTRAC), Bengaluru successfully took control of the spacecraft.

ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan congratulated the launch vehicle and satellite teams involved in thischallenging mission. “Today is a historical day for Space Science and Technology in India. I amextremely happy to announce that GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into anorbit 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 placenear South Pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored. On July 15, 2019ISRO intelligently observed a technical snag, Team ISRO worked out, fixed and corrected thesnag within 24 hours. For the next one and a half day, the required tests were conducted toensure that corrections made were proper and in right direction. Today ISRO bounced back withflying colours,” Dr. Sivan said.

In the coming days, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be carried out using Chandrayaan-2’sonboard propulsion system. This will raise the spacecraft orbit in steps and then place it in theLunar 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 solidstrap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. The vehicle is designed to carry 4ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low EarthOrbit (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 forend-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. Onthe science front, this mission aims to further expand our knowledge about the Moon through adetailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physicalcharacteristics and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution ofthe Moon.

After leaving earth orbit and on entering Moon’s sphere of influence, the on-board propulsionsystem of Chandrayaan-2 will be fired to slow down the spacecraft. This will enable it to becaptured into a preliminary orbit around the Moon. Later, through a set of manoeuvres, the orbitof Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularised at 100 km height from the lunar surface.

Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbitaround the Moon. Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvers to soft land inthe South polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019.

Following this, the Rover will roll out from the lander and carry out experiments on the lunarsurface for a period of 1 lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of the landeris also 1 lunar day.The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year.

The orbiter had a lift-off weight of about 2,369 kg, while the lander and rover weighed 1,477 kgand 26 kg respectively. The rover can travel up to 500 m (half a kilometre) and relies on electricpower generated by its solar panel for functioning.

Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to facilitate a more detailed understanding of theorigin and evolution of the Moon. The Orbiter carries eight payloads, the lander carries three,and the rover carries two. Besides, a passive experiment is included on the lander.The Orbiterpayloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit while the Lander andRover payloads will perform in-situ measurements near the landing site.

The ground facilities constitute the third vital element of Chandrayaan-2mission. They performthe important task of receiving the health information as well as the scientific data from thespacecraft. They also transmit the radio commands to the spacecraft. The Ground Segment ofChandrayaan-2 consists of Indian Deep Space Network, Spacecraft Control Centre and IndianSpace Science Data Centre.

Today’s successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 is a significant milestone in this challengingmission. A total number of 7500 visitors witnessed the launch live from the Viewer’s Gallery at Sriharikota.


About the Author

Sachin Murdeshwar
Sachin Murdeshwar is a Sr.Journalist and Columnist in several Mainline Newspapers and Portals.He is an ardent traveller and likes to explore destinations to the core.