Chandrayaan-I: On Moon approximately in 18 days

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Sriharikota, Oct 22 (UNI) Approximately 18 days after lift off from the SHAR Range on PSLV-C11, Chandrayaan-I, India's first unmanned space mission will make its landing on Moon and plant the Indian flag on November eight.

A jubilant ISRO chief Madhavan Nair, addressing newspersons, said ''the first leg of our journey to Moon is a success. The remaining journey will take place in another 18 days and the ISRO Team is capable of achieving it.'' Asked about any possibility of a setback in reaching the moon, Mr Nair said ''the journey to Moon has just began. We hope it will be smooth. There might be some unknown factors before us. It is just like jumping into a deepwater ocean. There might be hindrances.

We are confident of reaching it.'' ''The ISRO scientists are well equipped to achieve it with the help of ground segment comprising Indian Deep Space Network, Spacecraft Control Centre, Indian Space Science Data Centre and the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network,'' he said.

The voyage to the moon commenced from earth onboard the PSLV-C11 and reached a highly elliptical Initial Orbit with the perigee (nearest point to Earth) being about 250 km and apogee (farthest point from the Earth) about 23,000 km. It would reach its intended 100 km height from the Lunar surface on November eight, Mr Nair said.

''This is only the beginning of the long journey to Moon. The direct distance at the closest approach what we have chalked out is nearly four lakh km. But it is going to cover much more than that before it reaches the Moon.

''We have planned out a mission strategy in such a way that we will be raising the orbit of Chandrayaan-1 step by step by firing its propellant system onboard.

''This is a very complex operation that we have planned for the next two weeks and if everything goes well, on November eight, we will be injecting the spacecraft into the lunar trajectory. This is the first time that we are venturing beyond the Earth gravitational field,'' Mr Nair added.

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