Bengaluru: Chandrayaan-2's landing module 'Vikram' will begin its final descent to pull off a historic soft landing on the lunar surface in the early hours of Saturday, as the Indian Space Research Organisation awaits with bated breath for the "terrifying moment".
A successful landing will make India the fourth country after Russia, the US and China to achieve a soft landing on the moon. But it will be the first to launch a mission to the unexplored lunar south pole.
Joined by about 60-70 high school students from across the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be present at the ISRO centre in Bengaluru to witness live the space feat, according to officials.
'Vikram' with rover 'Pragyaan' housed inside is scheduled for a powered-descent between 1 am and 2 am on September 7, followed by its touchdown between 1.30 am and 2.30 am. The lander is now in an orbit that would be about 35 km from the lunar surface at its nearest point from where it will begin its final descent.
ISRO has said Chandrayaan-2 will attempt to soft land the lander and rover in a high plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70 south. ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the proposed soft landing on the Moon was going to be a "terrifying" moment as the ISRO has not done it before, where as Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre was successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
Explaining the landing manoeuvres, Sivan had said once the manoeuvre starts from about 30 km to land on the surface of the moon, it will take 15 minutes. "This 15 minutes travel of lander is new to ISRO. It is for the first time we are going to another body where there is no atmosphere and using the propulsion system we will have to break the velocity and bring the vehicle safely to soft land.
To achieve this we will have to balance between the gravity and thrust. So we have to modulate the thrust of the engine," he had said. Following the landing, the rover 'Pragyaan' will roll out from 'Vikram' between 5.30 am and 6.30 am.