India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 will move closer to the moon early Tuesday when it makes the transition from the earth's elliptical orbit into deeper space, a top space official said Monday.
The liquid apogee motor (LAM) on board will be fired in early morning Tuesday to make the transition, and position the spacecraft at about 500 km from the moon's surface and over 384,000 km away from the earth, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Director S. Satish said, according to the Indo-Asian News Service.
The complex transition will be carried out from the spacecraft's control room at ISRO's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) in coordination with its deep space network (DSN).
"Additional velocity will be given to the spacecraft to enter the lunar orbit Saturday (Nov. 8) for a rendezvous with the moon. With calibrated firing of its LAMs, it will be inserted into its designated orbit, which will be about 100 km from the lunar surface," Satish said.
Chandrayaan-1 has been spinning around the earth in an elliptical orbit at 267,000 km apogee (farthest from earth) and 465 km perigee (nearest to earth) since Oct. 29.
"The spacecraft performance is being monitored closely and its health parameters are normal," Satish said.
The spacecraft was launched on Oct. 22 by a polar satellite launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan space center in south India.