India’s second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 was launched at 0913 GMT on 22 July 2019, from the Sriharikota launch site. The initial plan was to place the spacecraft into a low Earth orbit. From here it will slowly raise its orbit and then be injected into a translunar transfer orbit. Having made its journey to the Moon, the spacecraft will fire an engine to slow itself into a lunar orbit. This orbit will be lowered until a descent manoeuvre is begun to try to land on the surface. If successful, the landing craft will later release a small rover. The flight time to the Moon’s surface will take 54 days in total due to the slow orbit raising around Earth and later reduction and descent around the Moon.

Simplified plan for Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter, lander and rover mission. Courtesy: ISRO


The mission, which ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) continued with even after Russia withdrew from the project, is a successor to the Chandrayaan 1 mission in 2008, which was a simpler orbiter type albeit that it did release an impactor to strike the lunar surface.