T.S. Subramanian

CHENNAI: Chandrayaan-1, India’s first spacecraft to the moon, sailed into deep space on Sunday morning and had reached almost half the distance to the moon, which is 3.84 lakh km from the earth.

Chandrayaan-1 crossed this landmark in its odyssey after the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) engineers successfully raised the spacecraft’s orbit for the third time after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11) put it in its initial orbit on October 22. It is travelling now in a highly elliptical orbit around the earth, with an apogee of 1.64 lakh km and a perigee of 348 km.

M. Annadurai, Project Director, Chandrayaan-1, said from Bangalore: “We are going more and more away from the earth. We are now almost halfway through the distance to the moon. There are three more manoeuvres to be done.”

The second manoeuvre on Saturday took the spacecraft for the first time beyond the geo-synchronous orbit of 36,000 km.

“With today’s [Sunday’s] manoeuvre, we are one more step closer to the destination. There are three more steps, which are equally important. We are taking utmost care. It is a team effort,” said Mr. Annadurai.

The three manoeuvres are slated for October 29, November 3 and 8. When the Chandrayaan-1’s engine is fired on November 8, the spacecraft will go round the moon in an orbit of 7,500 km by 500 km. On November 14/15, it will reach the final orbit of 100 km around the moon, Mr. Annadurai explained.

More In: Today's Paper