Chandrayaan-3’s Propulsion Module Moved to Earth’s Orbit by ISRO

New Delhi: ISRO has moved the Propulsion Module (PM) of Chandrayaan-3 from an orbit around the Moon to an orbit around Earth. ISRO has termed this maneuver a unique experiment.

The primary objective of the Chandrayaan-3 mission was

launched on July 14, 2023, on board the LVM3-M4 vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR).  On August 23, the Vikram lander made its historic touchdown on the Moon and subsequently, the Pragyan rover was deployed.

The main mission of the Propulsion Module was to transport the lander module from the Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) to the final lunar polar circular orbit and separate the lander. After the separation, the Spectro-polarimetry of HAbitable Planet Earth (SHAPE) payload in the PM was also operated, said ISRO. The initial plan was to operate this payload for about three months during the mission life of the PM.

ISRO said that it was decided to use the available fuel in the PM to derive additional information for future lunar missions and demonstrate the mission operation strategies for a sample return mission. To continue the SHAPE payload for earth observation, it was decided to re-orbit the PM to a suitable earth orbit.

This mission plan was worked out considering collision avoidance such as preventing the PM from crashing onto the Moon’s surface or entering into the Earth’s Geosynchronous Equatorial Orbit (GEO) belt at 36,000 km and orbits below that, the statement said.

Currently, the PM is orbiting Earth and crossed its first perigee on November 22 with an altitude of 1.54 lakh km. The orbit period is nearly 13 days with a 27-degree inclination. The predicted minimum perigee altitude is 1.15 lakh km, ISRO said.

Hence as per current orbit prediction, there is no threat of close approach with any operational Earth-orbiting satellites.

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