After four weeks in space, the craft completed its Lunar Orbit Insertion as planned, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement.
The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft successfully slipped into lunar orbit on Tuesday after what some space scientists called a "heart-stopping" 29-minute manoeuvre and is expected to land on the moon on September 7.
If India did manage the landing, it would be only the fourth country to do so after the U.S., Russian Federation and China.
The launch of Chandrayaan 2 was carried out successfully on July 22, 2019 by the GSLV Mk-III and had entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory on August 14.
It is for the first time that a space mission is attempting to land near the south pole of the moon, where no space mission has ever been before. The next lunar-bound orbit manoeuvre is slated for Wednesday afternoon.
This is not required in the equatorial regions where soft landings have been attempted before. At the end of this, the spacecraft will be placed in a circular orbit, 100 kms above the Moon's surface.
"Our heartbeats increased. for 30 minutes, our hearts nearly stopped".
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This manoeuvre increased the apogee, or the point on the orbit farthest from Earth, to 418,000km. India does not have a rocket powerful enough to hurl Chandrayaan-2 on a direct path.
But, in order to "land" on the moon and not "crash", Chandrayaan 2 needs to cushion its fall.
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated the ISRO team for completing this major step on the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft's journey.
In the past, moon missions such as the United States's Ranger 3 in 1962 and Explorer 33 in 1966, and the USSR's Luna 6 in 1965 failed and flew past the moon at this point.
The next big milestone for the mission will be on September 2, when the Lander-Rover separates from the Orbiter. On September 3, a small de-orbit manoeuvre of the lander lasting three seconds will ensure the normalcy of all the onboard systems. Why we are calling it a terrifying moment is because that is a phase which we will be doing for the first time. Till now, we have not operated the systems on-board the lander, especially the propulsion system.
The 2,379kg orbiter has a mission life of a year, will take images of the lunar surface. It did, however, launch an impact probe that was intentionally crashed into the Moon. According to the ISRO, the major landing is expected to take place on September 7.
The first pictures will be available about 5.5 hours after landing, said Sivan.
The mission will focus on the lunar surface, searching for water and minerals and measuring moonquakes, among other things. "If we had not done it or done it improperly, we would have lost the spacecraft as it would have gone astray", he said.
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