Countdown for lift-off of India's heavy rocket ‘Bahubali’ carrying Chandrayaan-2 to begin tomorrow

Chennai: The countdown for the July 15 early morning lift-off of India's heavy rocket nicknamed the 'Bahubali' carrying Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is expected to begin on Sunday, said a top official of the Indian space agency.

"It will be a 20-hour countdown which is expected to start on July 14 at 6.51 a.m.," K. Sivan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS. He said everything was progressing smoothly. The 640-tonne rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) standing about 44 metre tall is nicknamed the 'Bahubali, as like the hero in the successful film lifts a heavy Lingam, the rocket will carry the 3.8-tonne Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft.

About 16-minutes into its flight, the Rs 375 crore GSLV-Mk III rocket is expected to sling the Rs 603 crore Chandrayaan-2 into an Earth parking 170x40400 km orbit. During the countdown, the rocket and spacecraft's systems will undergo checks and fuel will be filled to power the rocket engines.

On entering the Moon's sphere of influence, on-board thrusters will slow down the spacecraft for Lunar Capture. The Orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularized to 100x100 km orbit through a series of orbital maneuvers.

On the day of landing, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and then perform a series of complex maneuvers comprising of rough braking and fine braking. Imaging of the landing site region prior to landing will be done for finding safe and hazard-free zones.

The lander - Vikram will finally land near South Pole of the moon on September 6, 2019. Subsequently, Rover will roll out and carry out experiments on Lunar surface for a period of 1 Lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days. Orbiter will continue its mission for one year.

To date, ISRO has sent up three GSLV-Mk III rockets. The first one was on 18.12.2014 carrying Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment. The second and third GSLV-Mk III went up on 5.2.2017 and 14.11.2018 carrying communication satellites GSAT-19 and GSAT-29 respectively. Interestingly, GSLV-Mk III will be used for India's manned space mission slated in 2022.

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