India’s Chandrayaan 2 achieved a make-or-break 29 minute burn to brake itself into lunar orbit on 20 August, after slowly raising its orbit and injecting itself in to a Trans Lunar Injection (TLI) orbit on 13 August. The burn was made at 0332 GMT on 20 August. This resulted in the three part spacecraft (orbiter, lander and rover) being placed in a 18,072 x 114 km lunar orbit.

Artist’s impression of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter and lander assembly. Courtesy: ISRO


Further engine firings were scheduled on 21, 28 and 30 August and 1 September in order to reduce this to a 100 km circular orbit around Earth’s natural satellite.

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


The separation of the ISRO-built and operated Vikram lander/Pragyan rover from the main orbiter will occur on 2 September. After a test burn on 3 September, another will be made on 4 September to lower the orbit to 97 x 35 km. A full landing attempt will be made on 6 September. The Pragyan rover vehicle will be driven off the lander about four hours after the landing has taken place