Setting in place India’s bid to return to the moon, the Indian space agency’s heavy lift rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III), carrying the 3,850 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, blasted off from the Sriharikota spaceport on Monday afternoon.
At exactly 2.43pm IST, the Rs. 375 crore GSLV-Mk III rocket began its ascent into space from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota.
Chandrayaan-2 is the first space mission to conduct a soft landing on the Moon’s south polar region. It is also the first Indian expedition to attempt a soft landing on the lunar surface with home-grown technology, and the first Indian mission to explore the lunar terrain with home-grown technology. With this mission, India will be the fourth country ever to soft land on the lunar surface.
The GSLV Mk-III is India’s most powerful launcher to date and is capable of carrying 4-ton class of satellites to the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). Components of the three-stage launcher include S200 solid rocket boosters, L110 liquid stage, and the C25 upper stage. The orbiter weighs 2,379 kg and has an electric power generation capability of 1,000 W. It will be placed in a 100×100 km lunar polar orbit. The Vikram lander weighs 1,471 kg and possesses an electric power generation capability of 650W. The 6-wheeled Pragyaan rover weighs 27kg and can generate 50W of electrical power. It can travel up to 500m and relies on solar energy for its functioning.
As for the project life of mission components, the orbiter is expected to be functional for around a year. The mission of Vikram lander and Pragyaan rover is touted to be one lunar day, which translates to 14 days on Earth.