India Prepares for First Moon Landing

The Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander is scheduled to make its powered descent to the lunar surface on Saturday, Sept. 7 between 0100 – 0200 hrs IST [1930-2030 UTC/3:30-4:30 pm on Friday.] . The soft landing is scheduled between 0130 – 0230 hrs on Saturday, September 07, 2019 [2000-2100 UTC/4-5 pm EDT Friday].

This will be followed by the Pragyan rover roll out between 0530 – 0630 hrs [0000-0100 UTC Saturday/8-9 pm EDT Friday].

A press meet with ISRO Chairman K Sivan is also being planned between 0800 – 0900 hrs [0230-0330 UTC Saturday/10:30-11:30 pm EDT Friday].

Information about the lander and its rover follows.

Vikram Lander

Chandrayaan 2’s lander is named Vikram after Dr Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of the Indian Space Programme. It is designed to function for one lunar day, which is equivalent to about 14 Earth days. Vikram has the capability to communicate with IDSN at Byalalu near Bangalore, as well as with the Orbiter and Pragyan rover. The lander is designed to execute a soft landing on the lunar surface at a touchdown velocity of 2 metres per second.

Landing Site: High plain between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N, at a latitude of about 70.9° South 22.7° East
Alternate Site: 67.7 ° South 18.4° West


Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity: Will characterise the seismicity around the landing site
Chandra’s Surface Thermo-physical Experiment: Will examine the Moon’s thermal conductivity and temperature gradient
Langmuir Probe: Will conduct ionosphere studies on the lunar surface

Pragyan Rover

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

Chandrayaan 2’s rover is a 6-wheeled robotic vehicle named Pragyan, which translates to ‘wisdom’ in Sanskrit. It can travel up to 500 m (0.5 km) at a speed of 1 centimeter per second, and leverages solar energy for its functioning. It can communicate with the lander.


Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer: Will determine the elemental composition of the Moon
Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope: Will identify elemental abundance in the vicinity of the landing site
Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA): Will help us understand the dynamics of Earth’s Moon system and also derive clues about the lunar interior