New Delhi: The Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on July 25 reached its highest intended orbit around the Earth where it will remain for another six days before embarking on its journey towards the Moon.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said the fifth and final orbit-raising manoeuvre was performed on July 25 afternoon, putting the spacecraft in an elliptical orbit that is 1,27,609 km from the Earth’s surface at its furthest, and 236 km at the nearest.
Before this, the spacecraft was in a 71,351 x 233 km elliptical orbit around the earth.
“The orbit-raising manoeuvre (Earth-bound perigee firing) is performed successfully from ISTRAC/ISRO (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network), Bengaluru… The next firing, the TransLunar Injection (TLI) is planned for August 1, 2023 between 12 midnight and 1 am IST,” ISRO tweeted from its handle.
Chandrayaan-3, launched on July 14, is slated to make a soft landing on the Moon’s surface next month. It is currently going around the Earth in elliptical orbits, sequentially raising the heights of these orbits. On August 1, it will release itself from Earth orbit and start moving directly towards the Moon. Once near the Moon, it will progressively get into lower and lower lunar orbits.
The final descent to the Moon’s surface would take place from a circular orbit of about 100 km around August 23 or 24.
Chandrayaan-3 is taking a circuitous route in its journey, rather than travelling directly to the Moon, in order to economize the entire travel. A direct trip to the Moon, which takes about four days, would require much heavier rockets, and a huge amount of fuel. Instead, Chandrayaan-3 was taken to a near Earth orbit, from where it has been utilizing the force of gravity to gain momentum, and then fire thrusters to accelerate and reach a higher orbit.