Bengaluru: Forty-three days after India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV MkIII-M1) put the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft (orbiter) into its intended orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, space scientists are now warming up for the critical mission to separate the Lander (Vikram) from the orbiter on Monday.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan told Onmanorama in an interview on Sunday that his team has been working round-the-clock at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC).
“People ask about the kind of pressure we are in. But for us more than pressure situation, it is the anxiety that’s building up. We are used to higher levels of pressure, but we are anxious that everything should go as planned,” Sivan said.
Every operation is done carefully with multiple rehearsals and simulations before the final command is executed, he said.
“The lunar-bound orbit manoeuvres for Chandrayaan-2 are extremely complex missions and we have performed four so far. The final one will be undertaken today (Sept 1) to achieve closer to the 100x100 orbit. Results are analysed with extra care so that there’s no scope for any error,” he said.
On the mood of his team at ISTRAC, Sivan said everyone is now waiting for the final exam results.
“Even after the separation of the lander module (Vikram and rover Pragyan) from the orbiter tomorrow (Sept 2), it will take a few more days before reaching the Moon. I have asked the team to be cautious all the time. Caution is the keyword,” he said.
Sivan said that similar caution and anxiety was experienced by his team during GSLV-D5’s successful test-flight with the cryogenic engine.
Sivan said scientists are working 24x7 at ISTRAC ever since Chandrayaan-2 began its Moon-bound journey.
“They work eight-hour shifts and the energy levels are high as always. As we are closing in now, there are lots of data being analysed. A number of simulations and animations are being looked into,” he said.
He said the expectations of the 1.3-plus billion people of India will be met on September 7, the day set for the Moon-landing.
“The prayers and support of people matter. We are keeping calm all the time. I do some meditation every day before setting out. We got to keep cool,” he said.
Since the launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 22, every operation went glitch-free.
“This gives us more confidence as we inch closer to the Moon,” he said.
As Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram is set to go solo post-separation on Monday, wishes are pouring in for the space agency from across the globe.
“We are all waiting for the moment. We are all happy to be around when India is all set to make yet another landmark in space. Extremely proud of Sivan and his team and our students are all excited,” says noted aviator and educationist Capt Audrey Maben.