Early this morning, India’s Vikram Moon lander successfully separated from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. The lander is expected to touch down on the lunar surface at approximately 20:25 UTC on September 6.
India’s Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission was launched on July 22 and entered into a lunar orbit just under a month later. The mission is comprised of three elements, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, the Vikram lander, and the Pragyan rover. Although this is not the country’s first mission to the Moon, it will, if successful, be the first time India has performed a soft landing on the Moon’s surface.
The separation of the Vikram lander was completed at 07:45 UTC this morning. According to an ISRO press release, the lander is currently being tracked by “the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas in Bylalu.” The agency confirmed the lander and orbiter are healthy with the lander in an orbit of 119 kilometers by 127 kilometers.
The Vikram lander’s next two maneuvers are scheduled to be completed tomorrow (September 03). The lander will complete two deorbit burns in preparation for a powered descent later this week.
The primary landing site is on a high plain between the craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N 350 kilometers north of the South Pole-Aitken Basin rim. Should a touchdown at the primary landing site be impossible, an alternate site is available a short distance away.