Bangalore: India's lunar probe, Chandrayaan I, has begun its ground journey to Sriharikota Range (SHAR) to be integrated with its launch rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C11. At SHAR, the lunar orbiter will begin its 50-hour pre-launch countdown on the night of 19 October.
Chandrayaan is expected to complete its journey to SHAR in a day or two.
At SHAR, the lunar probe will undergo a further series of electrical and mechanical checks, including those of its solar panels. It has already undergone preliminary thermal and vibration tests at the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) in Bangalore.
The upgraded version of the launch rocket PSLV-C11 will have a lift-off weight of 316 tonnes, and will be used to inject the 1,304-kg mass Chandrayaan-I into a 240 x 24,000 km orbit. Subsequently, the spacecraft's own propulsion system will be used to position it in a 100-km polar orbit around the moon.
Chandrayaan will carry high-resolution remote sensing equipment for visible, near-infrared, soft and hard X-ray frequencies. The main objective of Chandrayaan-I is investigation of the distribution of various minerals and chemical elements and high-resolution three-dimensional mapping of the entire lunar surface.
According to M Annadurai, project chief, Chandrayaan, the mission is the first step towards a manned lunar mission.