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GSLV Mk.3 rolls out for launch of Indian moon mission
July 12, 2019 Stephen Clark


The 143-foot-tall (43.5-meter) GSLV Mk.3 rocket rolls out of its assembly building with the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft on-board. Credit: ISRO

The 142-foot-tall (43.4-meter) rocket that will send aloft India’s Chandrayaan 2 moon mission Sunday has arrived on its launch pad on the Indian east coast.

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk.3, or GSLV Mk.3, is set for liftoff at 2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT) Sunday from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, India’s spaceport on the coast with the Bay of Bengal around 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Chennai.

The launch is timed for 2:51 a.m. local time Monday in India.

The GSLV Mk.3 is India’s most powerful launcher. Indian space agency officials last year switched the launch of the Chandrayaan 2 mission from the less capable GSLV Mk.2 rocket after the spacecraft’s mass grew to exceed the mission’s original design.

The all-Indian launch vehicle and the moon-bound Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft rolled out of the Vehicle Assembly Building on July 7 at the space base, located on Sriharikota Island, on a mobile platform for the journey to the Second Launch Pad.

The rollout occurred after technicians stacked the launch vehicle’s components on the mobile launch platform inside the assembly building, and finally capped the rocket with the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft, a three-in-one mission consisting of an orbiter module, a landing craft and a rover that will deploy from the lander after touchdown on the lunar surface.

Assuming the mission takes off Sunday — two days shy of the 50th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11 — the spacecraft should arrive in orbit around the moon in early August, followed by separation of the lander from the orbiter for final descent and landing Sept. 6.

India is seeking to become the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon, following the Soviet Union, the United States and China. The Chandrayaan 2 mission has cost around $142 million to design, develop and ready for launch, including the cost of the rocket and the spacecraft, according to the Indian Space Research Organization.



The GSLV Mk.3 rocket on its launch pad with the Chandrayaan 2 payload. Credit: ISRO

Since the rocket arrived at the launch pad, ISRO’s launch crew at Sriharikota has conducted two launch rehearsals, completed end-to-end checkouts of the rocket, connected pyrotechnics used for in-flight separation events, and accomplished control system checks on the GSLV Mk.3’s first stage.

The launch team also pressurized the rocket’s propellant tanks ini preparation for fueling.

The GSLV Mk.3 rocket will blast off off powered by two 86-foot-long (26.2-meter) S200 solid rocket boosters, generating a combined 2.2 million pounds of thrust. A core stage driven by two hydrazine-fueled Vikas engines will ignite at T+plus 1 minute, 50 seconds, followed by burnout and separation of the strap-on boosters around 30 seconds later.

Each of the S200 solid-fueled boosters will burn through their supply of more than 225 tons (205 metric tons) of pre-packed solid propellants.

The twin Vikas engines fired until around T+plus 5 minutes, 15 seconds, then give way to a cryogenic upper stage powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen to place the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft in an elliptical transfer orbit stretching to a maximum altitude of more than 23,000 miles (38,000 kilometers) above Earth.

Chandrayaan 2’s on-board engines will push the spacecraft into higher orbits before breaking free of Earth’s gravitational grasp and heading for the moon, where it will enter orbit in early August.

The orbiter will steer the solar-powered spacecraft into a circular 62-mile-high (100-kilometer) orbit around the moon during a series of maneuvers in August, setting the stage for landing separation and final descent in early September.



The Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft will launch with its orbiter and lander sections attached together. Once in lunar orbit, the two segments will split apart to conduct their separate missions. Credit: ISRO

The Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft’s three components each carry a suite of scientific instruments:

Orbiter

    Mass: 5,244 pounds (2,379 kilograms)

    Power: 1,000 watts

    Description: The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter — designed for a one-year mission — carries eight scientific instruments, including a high-resolution stereo imaging camera, a dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar look for evidence of water ice at the lunar poles, an imaging infrared spectrometer to aid in the search for water, and sensors to study the moon’s tenuous atmosphere. The orbiter will also provide data relay services the Vikram lander.

Vikram Lander

    Mass: 3,243 pounds (1,471 kilograms)

    Power: 650 watts

    Description: The Vikram lander’s targeted touchdown zone is located in a highland region on the the near side of the moon at approximately 70.9 degrees south latitude, closer to the moon’s south pole than any previous lunar landing mission. Vikram will use five throttleable liquid-fueled engines to slow down for landing. The stationary landing craft carries a suite of multiple cameras and three science instruments, including a seismometer, a thermal probe to reach a depth of up to 33 feet (10 meters) to measure the vertical temperature gradient in the lunar crust, sensors to investigate plasma near the moon’s surface, and a NASA-provided laser retroreflector array to help scientists locate the lander’s exact position on the moon. The Vikram lander is designed to last 14 days on the moon, equivalent to one lunar day.

Pragyan Rover

    Mass: 59 pounds (27 kilograms)

    Power: 50 watts

    Description: The solar-powered Pragyan rover has a range of up to 500 meters, or 1,640 feet, during its 14-day mission on the moon. The AI-enabled rover has six wheels and will relay science data and images through a radio link with the Vikram lander. Indian scientists installed an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer to measure the elemental composition of the rocks at the Chandrayaan 2 landing site, along with a laser-induced breakdown spectroscope. The Pragyan rover is named for the Sanskrit word for “wisdom.”

The launch of Chandrayaan 2 will mark the first operational flight of India’s GSLV Mk.3 rocket, following a suborbital test flight in 2014 and two successful orbital demonstration missions in 2017 and 2018.

Indian officials have selected the GSLV Mk.3 for the country’s human spaceflight program, which aims to send two or three astronauts into orbit on an Indian-built spacecraft by the end of 2021.

The photos below show the GSLV Mk.3’s rollout Sunday from the assembly building at Sriharikota.



Credit: ISRO


Credit: ISRO


Credit: ISRO


Credit: ISRO

Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/07/12/gslv-mk-3-rolls-out-for-launch-of-indian-moon-mission/

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Odp: [SFN] GSLV Mk.3 rolls out for launch of Indian moon mission
« Odpowiedź #1 dnia: Lipiec 22, 2019, 11:27 »
Fuel leak halted blastoff for Indian rocket: reports
By Arun SANKAR Sriharikota, India (AFP) July 15, 2019 [SD]


 
A fuel leak in the rocket engine forced India to abort the launch of its landmark Moon mission less than one hour before liftoff, media reports said Tuesday.

A committee of experts was looking into the causes of the problem that put back the bid to become just the fourth nation -- after Russia, the United States and China -- to land a spacecraft on the Moon.

Having halted the countdown 56 minutes and 24 seconds before the scheduled launch of Chandrayaan-2 -- or Moon Chariot 2 -- the Indian Space Research Organisation gave no explanation for what it called a "technical snag" in the rocket nor a date for a new attempt.

"As a measure of abundant precaution Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off," ISRO said.

However, the Times of India quoted a senior mission scientist as saying there had been a leak in the GSLV-MkIII rocket's helium fuel component.

"After filling helium, we found the pressure was dropping, indicating there was a leak," the unnamed scientist said adding that it was possible there were "multiple leaks".

"We were lucky that the mission did not enter the automatic launch sequence else all would have been lost," the Hindustan Times quoted a senior ISRO official as saying.

The report added that scientists were "racing to plug the leak" in time for a new launch window at the end of July.

Experts said Indian mission chiefs would be cautious about trying a new liftoff.

"If the launch does not happen in the next 48 hours, it could be postponed for a few months until we get an opportune launch window," said Ravi Gupta, a scientist formerly with the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation.

- Low-cost missions -

India has spent about $140 million on Chandrayaan-2, with most of it home-made. It is one of the cheapest in the crowded space race.

The launch would have been the third to the moon this year.

China put its Chang'e 4 mission on the lunar surface in January, while Israel's $100 million Beresheet crash-landed when it sought to become the first privately funded mission in April.

A soft landing on the Moon would be a huge leap forward in India's space programme.

National pride is at stake as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to launch a crewed space mission by 2022.

It follows another high-profile but low-cost Indian mission -- Mangalyaan -- which put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in 2014 at a fraction of the cost of comparable projects by established space powers like the United States, which often cost billions of dollars.

The Indian mission involved a 2.4-tonne orbiter that will circle the Moon for about a year taking images and testing the atmosphere. A lander named Vikram was to take the rover to the surface near the lunar South Pole.

The rover that was to be put on the surface on September 6 was to spend 14 days sending back data on rocks and soil.

India's first lunar mission in 2008 did not land on the Moon but orbited it searching for water using radar.

New Delhi also has ambitions to land a probe on Mars, following the success of the Mangalyaan orbiter.

Lunar exploration has been in focus in recent months with the looming 50th anniversary of the first human landing on the Moon, and US President Donald Trump giving NASA a 2024 deadline to return astronauts to the lunar surface.


Source: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Fuel_leak_halted_blastoff_for_Indian_rocket_reports_999.html

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Odp: [SFN] GSLV Mk.3 rolls out for launch of Indian moon mission
« Odpowiedź #2 dnia: Lipiec 22, 2019, 23:49 »
Launch of Indian moon lander postponed by ‘technical snag’
July 14, 2019 Stephen Clark [SFN]


The GSLV Mk.3 launcher awaiting liftoff with the Chandrayaan 2 lunar mission. Credit: ISRO

Indian engineers called off the launch of the Chandrayaan 2 lunar landing mission Sunday after observing a “technical snag” during the final hour of the countdown, India’s space agency said.

The robotic probe was counting down to liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on top of India’s GSLV Mk.3 rocket at 2121 GMT (5:21 p.m. EDT) Sunday, or 2:51 a.m. local time Monday in India.

“A technical snag was observed in (a) launch vehicle system at one hour before the launch,” the Indian Space Research Organization tweeted. “As a measure of abundant precaution, (the) Chandrayaan 2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later.”

ISRO did not release any additional information about the reason for the launch postponement. IANS, an Indian news agency, reported the GSLV Mk.3 rocket would have to be drained of its liquid propellants and returned to the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India’s southeastern coast for further investigation.

According to IANS, that process will take 10 days before managers can fix the problem and prepare for another launch attempt.

In May, ISRO officials said the Chandrayaan 2 mission’s targeted launch window this month opened July 9 and extends through Tuesday, July 16 (Monday, July 15 in the United States). Chandrayaan 2 has missed a series of previous launch windows as engineers completed construction and testing on the mission, which includes orbiter, lander and rover elements that will separate after arriving at the moon.



The Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft stack, including an orbiter, lander and rover, ready for encapsulation inside the GSLV Mk.3’s payload fairing. Credit: ISRO

Once it takes off, the GSLV Mk.3 rocket will inject the 8,547-pound (3,877-kilogram) Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft into an elliptical orbit stretching more than 24,000 miles (39,000 kilometers) around Earth. Chandrayaan 2 will use its own propulsion system to raise its orbit and break free of Earth’s gravitational grip, with arrival in orbit around the moon expected roughly three weeks after liftoff.

Once in lunar orbit, Chandrayaan 2 will maneuver closer to the moon before separation of the landing craft from the orbiter.

If the mission had launched Sunday, landing on the moon was scheduled for Sept. 6. A new landing date will depend on when the mission departs Earth.

The $142 million Chandrayaan 2 mission’s lander is targeting a touchdown at an unexplored site located on the near side of the moon at 70.9 degrees south latitude, closer to the moon’s south pole than any previous probe. The landing module is named Vikram for Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program, and will deploy the Pragyan rover, named for the Sanskrit word for “wisdom.”

The stationary lander and rover are designed to last 14 days — equivalent to half of a lunar day — until the sun sets at the landing site, robbing the vehicles of electrical power as temperatures plummet to near minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 183 degrees Celsius). The rover and lander carry a suite of scientific instruments, including cameras and spectrometers to measure the composition of the rocks at the landing site.

If the landing is successful, India will become the fourth nation to accomplish a controlled soft touchdown on the moon, following landings by the Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The Chandrayaan 2 orbiter will conduct its own one-year science mission, taking high-resolution mapping imagery and probing permanently-shadowed craters at the lunar poles with a dual-frequency radar to help better locate water ice deposits.


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/07/14/launch-of-indian-moon-lander-postponed-by-technical-snag/

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Odp: [SFN] GSLV Mk.3 rolls out for launch of Indian moon mission
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Sierpień 23, 2019, 10:21 »
Chandrayaan 2 arrives in lunar orbit, targets moon landing next month
August 20, 2019 Stephen Clark [SFN]


Artist’s illustration of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft, including the lander and orbiter, at the moon. Credit: ISRO

India’s Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft braked into orbit around the moon Tuesday, positioning the robotic science mission for a landing in the moon’s south pole region Sept. 6.

The spacecraft ignited its main engine at 0332 GMT Tuesday (11:32 p.m. EDT Monday) and fired for 29 minutes to reduce the the probe’s velocity by more than 600 mph (300 meters per second), allowing the moon’s gravity to capture Chandrayaan 2 into orbit.

The make-or-break rocket burn sets up Chandrayaan 2 for a series of burns to adjust its orbit over the next two weeks before the separation of the mission’s orbiter and lander elements Sept. 2, ahead of the lander’s final descent maneuver.

“Today, the Chandrayaan 2 mission crossed a major milestone,” said K. Sivan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization, India’s space agency.

Sivan said the 29-minute engine firing Tuesday “precisely injected” the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft into the planned orbit around the moon.

Chandrayaan 2 became the second Indian spacecraft to orbit the moon after India’s Chandrayaan 1 orbiter, which arrived in 2008 and made history by detecting water-bearing molecules at the lunar poles, with the highest concentrations inside permanently-shadowed craters at the south pole.

Tuesday’s lunar orbit insertion maneuver placed the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft in an elliptical orbit around the moon, with an altitude ranging from 70 miles (114 kilometers) at its lowest point, to a high point of 11,229 miles (18,072 kilometers), according to ISRO.

If Tuesday’s burn was unsuccessful, Chandrayaan 2 would have missed the moon and the mission would have been lost, Sivan said.

Less than half of the attempts to land on the moon since the dawn of the Space Age have been successful, and the $142 million Chandrayaan 2 mission will be India’s first try.

“Even though we got a successful lunar orbit insertion today, still the landing is a terrifying moment,” Sivan said. “Until now, (many of) our lunar lander systems have not operated, especially the propulsion system. That will come only after the 2nd (of September). Only then we will know.

“That is a phase we are doing for the first time,” Sivan said. “Whereas today’s lunar orbit insertion … we’ve already done that once.”

But Sivan said he is confident Chandrayaan 2 will safely land.

“One good thing is we are learning from their failures,” he said.

“We have the confidence in this landing mission,” Sivan said. “We are confident because we have enough testing, enough simulations. All the subsystem- and system-level, sensor-level, thruster-level, all the simulations here are done. We are confident that anything humanly possible, we did.”



K. Sivan, ISRO’s chairman, displays a model of the Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft during a press conference Tuesday. Credit: ISRO

Chandrayaan 2 launched July 22 aboard India’s largest rocket, the GSLV Mk.3, into an egg-shaped orbit around Earth.

The spacecraft gradually boosted its orbit to higher latitudes with a series of five engine burns, culminating with a trans-lunar injection maneuver Aug. 13 (GMT) to place Chandrayaan 2 on a trajectory to intercept the moon.

With Chandrayaan 2 now in a stable orbit around the moon, ISRO ground teams will oversee a further sequence of burns using the orbiter’s propulsion system to guide the spacecraft into a circular 62-mile-high (100-kilometer) orbit. The lunar orbit maneuvers will begin with an engine firing Wednesday, followed by additional firings Aug. 28, Aug. 30 and Sept. 1.

“The next major event happens on the 2nd of September, when the lander will be separated from the orbiter,” Sivan said. “Until now, the entire operations are carried out by the propulsion systems from the orbiter. From Sept. 2 onwards, the entire attention will be on the lander.”

The landing module is named Vikram for Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program, and after touchdown will deploy the Pragyan rover, named for the Sanskrit word for “wisdom.”

After separating from the orbiter, the Vikram lander will conduct a test burn of its propulsion system Sept. 3.

“After confirming the normalcy of the system, then on the 4th of September, we will be doing the real deorbit maneuver for the lander for about 6.5 seconds,” Sivan said. “In that maneuver, the lander will be put into an orbit with 35 kilometers (21 miles) perilune and about 97 kilometers (60 miles) apolune.”

“For the next (few) days, we’ll be checking the various parameters of the lander to ensure everything is right,” Sivan said.

The final 15-minute powered descent sequence will set up for touchdown in an ancient polar highlands region between two craters at approximately 70.9 degrees south latitude, and 22.8 degrees east longitude, closer to the moon’s south pole than any previous mission.

Five throttleable liquid-fueled engines will control the lander’s rate of descent, and a laser rangefinder will guide the spacecraft toward the landing zone. After the start of the powered descent phase, the entire landing sequence will be autonomous, without input from ground controllers.

Landing is scheduled for around 2025 GMT (4:25 p.m. EDT) on Sept. 6, according to Sivan.

The 59-pound (27-kilogram) Pragyan rover is expected to drive off the lander around four hours after touchdown to begin driving across the lunar surface. Pragyan carries a suite of instruments to study the composition of rocks and soil at the landing site.

The Vikram lander, meanwhile, will take panoramic images, measure seismic activity and extend a probe to a depth of up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) to collect data on underground thermal conductivity. A NASA-provided laser retroreflector is also flying on the Vikram lander.

Chandrayaan 2’s stationary lander and rover are designed to last at least 14 days — equivalent to half of a lunar day — until the sun sets at the landing site, robbing the vehicles of electrical power as temperatures plummet to near minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 183 degrees Celsius).

Sivan said Tuesday that the frigid temperatures could damage sensitive components inside the lander and rover.

“At that temperature, we are qualified, but I cannot give confidence to you (that the spacecraft will survive,” Sivan said. “It may happen. It may not happen.”

If Chandrayaan 2’s landing is successful, India will become the fourth nation to accomplish a controlled soft touchdown on the moon, following landings by the Soviet Union, the United States and China.

Meanwhile, the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter will conduct its own scientific observations over a mission scheduled to last at least one year. The orbiter will take high-resolution images and scan the lunar surface with radar and spectral imagers to hunt for signs of water ice.

Reservoirs of frozen water on the moon could be converted into rocket fuel and other supplies for a lunar base.

NASA’s Artemis program aims to land a two-person crew near the moon’s south pole by 2024, and Sivan said findings by missions like Chandrayaan 2 will provide important data for teams planning a human anding.

“We are are going to land near the south pole, and Artemis is also going to land a man near the south pole,” Sivan said. “I’m sure that this will give a lot of input to them, but what input it will give, don’t ask me now. After the science, I can tell you.”


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/08/20/chandrayaan-2-arrives-in-lunar-orbit-targets-moon-landing-next-month/

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Odp: [SFN] GSLV Mk.3 rolls out for launch of Indian moon mission
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Wrzesień 07, 2019, 06:50 »
India’s first attempt to land on the moon appears to end in failure
September 6, 2019 Stephen Clark EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated at 11 p.m. EDT (0300 GMT) with Modi comments.  [SFN]


A member of the Chandrayaan 2 team reacts after contact with the Vikram lander was lost Friday. Credit: ISRO

Ground teams lost communication with India’s first lunar landing mission moments before its scheduled touchdown on the moon Friday, and the robotic research craft apparently crashed during final descent.

The Indian Space Research Organization, or ISRO, said controllers lost contact with the Vikram lander in the final minutes of its descent to a landing site near the moon’s south pole.

A live broadcast from the lander control center in Bengaluru showed tension rising as the spacecraft neared the lunar surface, with excitement turning to despondency after engineers unexpectedly lost their radio link with Vikram.

India was seeking to become the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon, following successes by the former Soviet Union, the United States and China.

The Vikram lander, part of India’s multi-part Chandrayaan 2 mission, was steering toward a landing zone at 70.9 degrees south latitude on the near side of the moon. Touchdown was set for 4:23 p.m. EDT (2023 GMT) Friday.

The spacecraft’s targeted landing site was closer to the moon’s south pole than any previous mission.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi observed the landing attempt from a gallery overlooking the Chandrayaan 2 control center in Bengaluru.

Video from the live broadcast showed K. Sivan, ISRO’s chairman, meeting with Modi soon after teams lost contact with Vikram, apparently briefing the prime minister on the status of the landing attempt.


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Somber scenes inside India’s Chandrayaan 2 control center after teams lost communication with the Vikram moon lander. https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/09/06/chandrayaan-2-mission-status-center/
10:34 PM - Sep 6, 2019

Vikram, named for the father of India’s space program, was in the final stages of a 15-minute powered descent to the moon’s surface when teams lost contact with the spacecraft.

“The Vikram lander descent was as planned, and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers (1.3 miles),” Sivan said in the control center after briefing Modi. “Subsequently, the communications from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed.”

Modi later visited ISRO teams, telling them to “be courageous” before meeting with Indian students invited to witness the landing at the control center.

The somber mood inside the Chandrayaan 2 control center mirrored the appearance of Israeli engineers in April, when the Beresheet lander crashed during an attempt to become the first privately-funded spacecraft to safely land on the moon.

The Indian prime minister returned to the control center Bengaluru several hours later to address the nation.

“We came very close, but we will need to cover more ground in the times to come,” Modi said. “Every Indian is filled with a spirit of pride as well as confidence. We are proud of our space program and scientists. Their hard work and determination has ensured a better life, not only for our citizens, but also for other nations … India is suffering, but there will be many more opportunities to be proud and rejoice.

When it comes to our space program, the best is yet to come,” Modi continued. “There are new frontiers to discover and new places to go … To our scientists, I want to say India is with you.”

India’s landing attempt Friday was the third try to put a spacecraft on the moon’s surface this year. Before Beresheet’s failed landing in April, China successfully landed the Chang’e 4 spacecraft on the far side of the moon in January.

The Vikram lander ignited four of its retrorockets as designed at 4:07 p.m. EDT (2007 GMT) to begin a pre-programmed descent sequence expected to last more than 15 minutes. The braking rockets were designed to slow Vikram’s horizontal velocity from 3,600 mph (1.6 kilometers per second) to zero in preparation for landing.



Artist’s illustration of the Vikram lander during descent. Credit: ISRO

The four throttleable liquid-fueled engines fired for 11 minutes, apparently as designed, to complete the Vikram lander’s “rough braking phase” guiding the craft to an altitude of around 24,000 feet, or 7.4 kilometers. Then Vikram was supposed to use a laser altimeter and hazard avoidance camera to scan the lunar surface, providing inputs to the spacecraft’s navigation computer to control its descent rate.

Vikram was then supposed to head for an altitude of around 1,300 feet (400 meters), before proceeding down to 330 feet (100 meters). The four-legged spacecraft was programmed to hover momentarily to allow its landing sensors to identify a safe, flat, boulder-free landing site before beginning the final descent.

A center engine was scheduled to ignite at an altitude of approximately 42 feet (13 meters) to control the final seconds of the landing, a measure intended to reduce the amount of dust kicked up as Vikram reached the lunar surface.

But the loss of communication suggested something went wrong during the final minutes of Vikram’s descent. ISRO did not offer any additional details on the fate of the lander in immediate hours after the preset landing time.

Less than half of the attempts to land on the moon since the dawn of the Space Age have been successful.

In a press conference before Vikram’s descent, Sivan said he was confident in a smooth landing.

“One good thing is we are learning from their failures,” he said.

“We have the confidence in this landing mission,” Sivan said before the landing attempt. “We are confident because we have enough testing, enough simulations. All the subsystem- and system-level, sensor-level, thruster-level, all the simulations here are done. We are confident that anything humanly possible, we did.

“But at the same time, it’s a new mission,” he said. “It’s a terrifiying moment for us.”



Artist’s concept of the Chandrayaan 2 lunar orbiter. Credit: ISRO

The Chandrayaan 2 mission launched July 22 from a spaceport on India’s southeastern coast, and it arrived in orbit around the moon Aug. 20. The Chandrayaan 2 mission’s orbiter module, which will image and study the moon from an altitude of around 62 miles (100 kilometers), separated from the mission’s Vikram lander Monday at 0745 GMT (3:45 a.m. EDT).

The Vikram lander then fired its rocket thrusters to maneuver into a lower orbit that ranges between 21 miles (35 kilometers) and 62 miles (101 kilometers) above the moon’s surface.

The maneuvers set up Vikram to begin its final 15-minute powered descent Friday.

“From that time onward, the entire thing will be decided by the Chandrayaan 2 lander only,” Sivan said before the landing attempt. “When the lander is coming down, it will take images of the place, and it will compare with the image of what we stored on-board. It will find a flat surface, it will re-target, it will hover for some time, and it will decide where to land, and it will land. It will land autonomously in an intelligent way.”

The lander measured about 8.3 feet (2.5 meters) tall and 6.6 feet (2 meters) wide, and it carried a 59-pound (27-kilogram) rover named Pragyan, the Sanskrit word for “wisdom.”

The Pragyan rover was expected to drive off a ramp onto the lunar surface a few hours after Vikram’s landing. Pragyan was designed to study the composition of rocks and soil at the landing site, while Vikram was to take panoramic images and conduct its own experiments.

“We have payload systems on the orbiter, and some are on the lander, and some are on the rover,” Sivan said. “Mainly these will be looking at rock-forming elements … mapping of rock-forming elements like magnesium, aluminum, calcium, iron. That is one study.

“Another one is the mapping of minerals and water,” he said. “Then another scientific study is the study of the exosphere. The atmosphere is very, very mild. Then, at the place where the lander is landing, what is the seismic activity there? Another thing is after landing, a probe will go into the lunar surface and study the thermal characteristics and thermal conductivity.”

A NASA-provided laser retroreflector was also aboard the Vikram lander.

Even if the landing attempt ended in failure, Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter remains healthy and is just starting its one-year science mission.

The orbiter carries eight scientific instruments, including a high-resolution stereo imaging camera, a dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar look for evidence of water ice at the lunar poles, an imaging infrared spectrometer to aid in the search for water, and sensors to study the moon’s tenuous atmosphere.

The orbiter was also to provide data relay services the Vikram lander.

Developed at a cost of around $140 million, the Chandrayaan 2 mission is the most ambitious in the history of India’s space program. It follows Chandrayaan 1, a lunar orbiter launched in 2008 that detected the first evidence of water ice hidden inside permanently-shadowed craters at the lunar poles.

India has also placed a spacecraft in orbit around Mars, and the country’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is a workhorse for launching Indian Earth-observing missions and numerous commercial CubeSats and microsatellites from international customers.

Most of ISRO’s programs focus on environmental observation, weather forecasting and communications, services that aid the country’s population of more than 1.3 billion people.

But ISRO has expanded its portfolio over the last decade, with lunar and Mars missions, a quickening pace of rocket launches, and plans for a space capsule to carry Indian astronauts into orbit.


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/09/06/indias-first-attempt-to-land-on-the-moon-appears-to-end-in-failure/