Space technology Current Affairs

Chandrayaan-2 launch postponed to October-November 2018

The Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) has postponed launch of India’s second lunar mission ‘Chandrayaan-2’ from April 2018 to October-November 2018. The launch was postponed for additional tests suggested by national level committee to review Chandrayaan-2.

Chandrayaan 2

Chandrayaan 2 is India’s second mission to Moon and is advanced version of previous Chandrayaan-1 mission (launched in 2008). It has been developed indigenously by ISRO. It consists of Orbiter, Lander and Rover configuration. In this mission, ISRO will for first time attempt to land a rover on moon’s south-pole. It will be launched on board of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (GSLV-F10).

It is ISRO’s first inter-planetary mission to land rover on any celestial body. The spacecraft (orbiter) weighs around 3,290 kg and it will orbit around moon and perform objectives of remote sensing moon. Once GSLV-F10 put spacecraft in 170 km x 20,000 km elliptical orbit, orbiter will be manoeuvred towards 100-km lunar orbit by firing thrusters and then lander housing the rover will separate from orbiter.

The six wheeled rover will move on lunar surface and collect soil or rock samples for on-site chemical analysis to gather scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice. The data will be relayed to Earth through orbiter. The rover will move around landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands.

Note: The soft-landing on the lunar surface of the moon will be most complex part of Chandrayaan 2 mission. Only US, Russia and China have been able to soft-land spacecraft on lunar surface.

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Tiangong-1: China’s space lab plummets to earth, burns up over Pacific Ocean

China’s out-of-control Tiangong-1 space lab has re-entered Earth’s atmosphere, landing in middle of the South Pacific Ocean near world’s ‘spacecraft cemetery or graveyard’. Most of its parts were burned up during gravity-propelled re-entry process.

The spacecraft cemetery also known as Point Nemo — considered the most remote place on Earth (at about 2400 km from any spot of land). It often used to crash-land defunct satellites. Between 1971 and mid-2016, space agencies all over the world have dumped between 260 and 300 spacecraft into the region.

Tiangong-1

Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace or Celestial Palace-1) was China’s first prototype space station or space laboratory. It was placed in orbit in September 2011 as part of China’s efforts towards building its own space station independent and unconnected to any other international space-active countries. It weighed aroung 8,506 kg and was having length 10.4 m and diameter of 3.35 m.

During its lifespan, Tiangong-1 had served as both manned laboratory and experimental testbed to demonstrate orbital rendezvous and docking capabilities during its active operational life. It was first operational component of Tiangong program, which aims to place a larger, modular station into orbit by 2023, the time when US-led International Space Station is expected to go out of service.   It also tested docking systems and other technology needed for larger, multi-module space station to be built in 2020s.

Tiangong-1 was originally planned to be decommissioned in 2013 but its mission was repeatedly extended. It reportedly stopped functioning in 2016 and wasn’t responding to commands from ground control, leading some experts to suggest the space laboratory was out of control. China has launched a second lab, Tiangong-2 in 2017 which continues to be operational.

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