India scripted history by launching Chandrayaan-2 – its first exploratory mission to the Moon – from Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota on Monday. The three-stage rocket GSLV-MkIII-M1 launch vehicle, called Baabubali, lifted off at its appointed time of 2.43 pm and successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into Earth’s orbit, where it will spend 23 days.
The mission would see the lander and rover modules of the spacecraft make a soft-landing on the moon’s surface 48 days from now, on September 7. After a failed attempt last week, scientists at ISRO had a window of only a few minutes to launch Chandrayaan-2, making it necessary that all operations in the run-up to lift-off are conducted with extreme precision.
Chandrayaan-2, the sequel to Chandrayaan-1, consists of three modules — an Orbiter, Lander and Rover. The Orbiter will orbit the Moon from 100 kilometres away, while the Lander will carry the Rover module to the surface of the Moon. As the Lander makes a soft-landing, the Rover will detach itself and slowly crawl on the surface to record observations and collect data. The Lander module is named ‘Vikram’, after Vikram Sarabhai. The Rover, called ‘Pragyaan’ (wisdom), is a six-wheeled solar-powered vehicle.