Bangalore/Chennai: India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft Chandrayaan-1 on Sunday entered deep space after crossing 150,000 km from the earth on way to the moon, a space agency official said.
"Chandrayaan entered deep space after its third orbit-raising manoeuvre was completed earlier in the day. The exercise involved firing its 440 Newton liquid engine, lasting 9.5 minutes," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S. Satish told IANS in Bangalore.
Following the exercise, the spacecraft is in a higher elliptical orbit, cruising at a 164,600-km apogee (farthest point from earth) and a 348-km perigee (nearest point to earth), taking 73 hours to go around the earth once.
"Antennas of the Deep Space Network (DSN) at Byalalu (40 km from Bangalore) are tracking and communicating with Chandrayaan-1 in such a high orbit. The spacecraft performance is normal," Satish pointed out.
"The signals from the spacecraft are strong and everything is progressing as expected," S.K.Shivakumar, director ISRO Telmetry, Tracking and Command Network, told IANS in Chennai.
According to Shivakumar, the next orbit raising activity is scheduled for October 29 when the spacecraft will be taken to a distance of 265,000 km from the earth.
The antennas of the Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu are playing a crucial role in tracking and communicating with the spacecraft. The spacecraft performance is normal, officials said.
Further orbit-raising manoeuvres are planned in the coming few days to take Chandrayaan-1 towards the moon, which is about 384,000 km from the earth, by November 8.
Chandrayaan carries 11 scientific instruments, including six foreign payloads-two from the US, three from the European Space Agency (ESA) and one from Bulgaria. The remaining five are indigenously designed and developed by the various centres of the state-run ISRO.
The spacecraft is expected to enter the lunar orbit November 3, when the moon will be about 500 km away from it.
Chandrayaan was blasted off October 22 on board the 316-tonne polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) C-11 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, about 80 km from Chennai.