India’s second mission to the Moon is under way.
After a smooth 20-hour countdown, the GSLV MkIII-M1 launch vehicle lifted off as planned from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, and, officials report, all subsequent flight events occurred as scheduled.
About 16 minutes 14 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle injected the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an elliptical Earth orbit. Immediately afterwards, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically was deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru, took control of the spacecraft.
In the coming days, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be carried out using Chandrayaan-2’s onboard propulsion system. This will raise the spacecraft orbit in steps and then place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory.
It is scheduled to arrive at the Moon’s south polar region on 7 September.