52-hour countdown begins around 4 a.m. tomorrow
CHENNAI: Preparations for launching Chandrayaan-1 have peaked at Sriharikota with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11), married up with the spacecraft, having reached the launch pad from the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on Friday. This one km “rath yatra” took two hours from the VAB to the launch pad, also called the umbilical tower.
“The fully assembled vehicle was moved to the umbilical tower. There will be a rehearsal of the launch sequence on Sunday,” said M. Annadurai, Project Director, Chandrayaan-1, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Saturday. If the weather turns out to be fine, the PSLV-C11 will lift off from the second launch pad on October 22 at 6.20 a.m. and put Chandrayaan-1 in orbit.
It was a spectacular sight as the 44.4 metre tall PSLV-C11, which weighs 316 tonnes, standing on the mobile launch pedestal, ever so slowly rolled out of the VAB on a rail track towards the launch pad. The mobile pedestal itself, a massive platform made of steel, weighs 600 tonnes. Chandrayaan-1 weighs 1.3 tonnes. Extremely powerful engines, positioned below the mobile launch pedestal, slowly wheeled this 917 tonne colossus, from the sanctum sanctorum of the VAB towards the launch pad.
Mission Director George Koshy was on hand to supervise the manoeuvre.
Mr. Annadurai said that in the rehearsal, “we will do everything as if a launch is taking place.”
All electrical activities would get under way. In the Control Centre at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bangalore, simulated data from the global network of ground stations would flow.
“It will be rehearsed in real time. After the exercise is over, we will make sure that everything is in place and the formal 52-hour countdown will start,” he said.
The countdown begins around 4 a.m. on October 20. Chandrayaan-1 carries 11 instruments – five from India and six from abroad. They will enable investigation of chemicals, minerals and possible presence of water on the moon. This may give clues on the origin of the moon.