Timeline: How Chandrayaan-2 Mission Unfolded Before the Setback
Vikram Lander was on its way to making history for ISRO, stopping short by just 2.1 Km.
Vikram Lander was on its way to making history for ISRO, stopping short by just 2.1 Km.(Photo: ISRO screen grab)

Timeline: How Chandrayaan-2 Mission Unfolded Before the Setback

Chandrayaan 2 took off from Sriharikota on 22 July. On 20 August it entered the lunar orbit. After many de-orbiting manoeuvres, the lander and rover were expected to soft land on the South Pole of the Moon on 7 September.

But owing to technical glitches, the lander lost communication with the ground station at 1.50 am IST, as confirmed by K Sivan, Chairman ISRO earlier this morning.

With the orbiter still placed in the lunar orbit, the Chandrayaan 2 mission marches on. The lander and rover were only a small part of the entire mission. Here’s a closer look at how things unfolded since the Vikram lander successfully separated from the Orbiter on 2 September this week.

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2 September - Mission Vikram Lander Sets Off for Moon

The Vikram Lander successfully separated from Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter at 1315 Hrs IST, as informed by ISRO through its detailed updates on the website. The Lander was then located in an orbit of 119 km x 127 km, it added.

Till then, the health of the Orbiter and Lander was reported to be healthy, which was being monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near Bengaluru.

Post this step, it was time to move to the next manoeuvre for the Lander.

3 September - First De-Orbiting Manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-2

Using the onboard propulsion system, the first de-orbiting manoeuvre for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully beginning at 0850 hrs IST. The duration of the manoeuvre was reported to be four seconds.

ISRO also informed the orbit of Vikram Lander was 104 km x 128 km, as the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continued to orbit the Moon in the existing orbit.

4 September - Vikram Lander Inching Closer to the Moon

At around 03:42 hrs IST as planned, the second de-orbiting manoeuvre for Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully.

The orbit of Vikram Lander was reported at 35 km x 101 km, which was seen as the required orbit for the Lander to begin its descent towards the surface of the Moon. This is when ISRO confirmed the timeline for powered descent of the Lander, as well as its touch down on the Moon, slated for early hours of 7 September.

In the meanwhile, the Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter continued to orbit the Moon in an orbit of 96 km x 125 km.

7 September - History Beckons

The Vikram Lander was on course to make the soft landing on the South Pole of the Moon, something that no other country had managed to date.

However, things went awry when the Lander was merely 2.1 km away from touching the lunar surface.

Communication was lost with Vikram Lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission when it was just 2.1 km from the surface of the Moon. 
Communication was lost with Vikram Lander of the Chandrayaan-2 mission when it was just 2.1 km from the surface of the Moon. 
Photo: ISRO 

This is when, the ISRO Chairman, K Sivan and his team went silent, hoping for the best over the next few minutes. However, the ground station confirmed to have lost communication with the Lander, and ISRO informed that the “data is being analysed.”

Now, we wait for the Chandrayaan 2 Orbiter to send back data or possible images that could explain the reason behind the Lander's setback.

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