Indian rover-carrying spacecraft Chandrayaan-2, launched into space last month, after circling the Earth for 22 days is now heading for the Moon, where it is scheduled to land next month.
The burn to leave Earth’s orbit, called a translunar injection, occurred on Aug. 13 (2:21 a.m. local time Aug. 14 at mission control in India) and lasted for 1,203 seconds, according to a statement from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which oversees the mission.All systems on board “are performing normal,” the ISRO said.When it will be near the Moon, the lander will be detached from the orbiter and land on the Moon’s South Pole on September 7. After, the rover will explore the surface for two weeks. The orbiter should continue working for about a year.
Previous mission Chandrayaan-1, which India launched in 2008 and which orbited the moon for nearly a year, carried the instrument that identified frozen water ice below the surface of permanently shadowed craters near the moon's poles. If all goes well, Chandrayaan-2 will also make India the fourth country to successfully complete a soft landing on the moon, following the Soviet Union, the U.S. and China.