"Let's pray for the successful soft-landing" that pretty much sums up the mood at ISRO ahead of Saturday's highly crucial event of the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Nervous and anxious for sure but the city-headquartered space agency is cautiously optimistic of "Vikram" module's soft-landing on the Lunar surface planned in the early hours of Saturday.
"Everybody is tight-lipped. I am also tight lipped. Let the event be over", a senior official associated with the mission said on Thursday. "Every body's mind is only on what's happening in the (Chandrayaan-2) spacecraft and lander ('Vikram'). Let's all pray for the successful soft-landing," the official said. Chairman of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) K Sivan recently said the space agency "had done everything humanly possible" for the mission's success.
Top space scientists have also expressed confidence about the success of the ambitious venture. "It's going to be a remarkable event (soft-landing) and we are all looking forward to it. I am sure it will be a 100 per cent success", former ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair, who spearheaded the Chandrayaan-1 mission more than a decade ago, told PTI. Another former ISRO Chairman, A S Kiran Kumar, described the proposed soft-landing as one of the very critical operations.
"So far, whatever has been done in comparison to that now we are entering the most critical phase, and up to now, all things have gone as per the plan and expectation is every thing will go as per the plan", Kiran Kumar told PTI. A Annadurai, the project director of Chandrayaan-1 and programme director of Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission, noted that ISRO had the experience of undertaking more than 40 GEO (Geosyncronous Equatorial Orbit) missions. "I am sure it (soft-landing) will go through", Annadurai said, adding, ISRO had conducted many tests before the launch and he was part of the review team in some of them.
After its launch on July 22, Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprising the orbiter, lander and the rover left the earth's orbit in the dark hours on August 14 and six days later entered the Lunar orbit. On September 2, the Rs 978 crore lunar mission moved a step closer to the Moon after the landing module 'Vikram' was successfully separated from the orbiter and its orbit lowered in two more manoeuvres in the next two days.
Vikram is scheduled for a powered-descent between 1 am and 2 am on Saturday, followed by the touchdown of the Lander, carrying rover Pragyan, between 1.30 am and 2.30 am on the unexplored lunar south pole, ISRO has said. ISRO Chairman K Sivan has said the soft-landing on the Moon is going to be a "terrifying" moment, a reference to the complexities involved in the event.