Indian Chandrayaan 2 lunar probe enters moon orbit

India launched the Chandrayaan 2 lunar probe about four weeks ago, and this week the probe entered lunar orbit. Inserting itself into lunar orbit is one of the most challenging maneuvers that the probe had to pull off on its Moon mission. The trip to the Moon took four weeks, and the Indian Space Research Organisation has stated that the spacecraft has completed its Lunar Orbit insertion.

The space agency said that the lunar insertion was completed on Tuesday at 0902 hrs IST (0332 GMT). The insertion went as planned, and the spacecraft used its onboard propulsion system for the maneuver. The duration of the orbital insertion maneuver was 1738 seconds according to the space agency.

India intends to become the fourth nation after Russia, China, and the US to land a spacecraft on the Moon. Assuming the remainder of the Chandrayaan 2 mission goes as planned, the lunar probe will land on the lunar south pole on September 7.

The spacecraft will have to perform four more maneuvers similar to the one that put it into orbit to get into its final orbit around the poles of the Moon. The next maneuver is set to happen Wednesday of this week. The reason the maneuver performed today was so difficult was due to the velocity of the spacecraft.

If the satellite had approached the Moon at a higher velocity, it would have bounced off and been lost to deep space. Had the probe approached at a lower speed, it would have been captured by the gravity of the Moon and crashed. The space agency notes that even a small error would have killed the mission. Chandrayaan 2 lifted off on July 22 and includes an orbiter, lander, and rover.