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India Gets Closer to First Lunar South Pole Landing Sept. 7

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EIRNS—The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that its Vikram Moon lander had successfully separated from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, and is orbiting the Moon itself while preparing for a first-ever lunar South Pole landing.

Today Indian news agency Firstpost reported: “Successfully crossing the final milestone ahead of landing, the landing module of the Indian Space Research Organization’s second mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-2, has separated from the orbiter. With this, the Vikram lander and Pragyan rover are one step closer to making a soft-landing on 7 September. As of 1:15 p.m. [07:45 UTC] this afternoon, the Vikram lander has been put on an independent, circular path identical to the orbiter, passing over the lunar poles at a distance of roughly 100 km from the surface.”

Specifically, Vikram is in a nearly circular orbit 119-127 km from the lunar surface, according to ISRO. Two more lowering maneuvers Sept. 3 and 4 will be followed by low orbits for precisely mapping the landing area. The landing itself is apparently to be self-controlled. It is now scheduled for early morning Sept. 7 in India time (Sept. 6 afternoon EDT).

Some 60 Indian high school students have been selected, by an India-wide competitive quiz, to watch the landing with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at ISRO’s space center.