Sci & Tech

Chandrayaan-2: Several challenges to meet Jan 2019 deadline

MOON-ISRO-IMAGE-3

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which has set itself a January 3, 2019 deadline for the launch of India’s second mission to Moon (Chandrayaan-2) has several technological challenges brought about by the new configuration that it must address.

In fact, Isro Chairman Sivan K, after whose taking charge the Chandrayaan-2 project has undergone several changes, says that the Lander designed for the programme was ill-configured and would have led to the failure of the programme.

“You can say that this is Chandrayaan-3 as the project has been reconfigured completely. If we went with the previous configuration it would have been a disaster. They had not thought of so many issues, that are being corrected now,” Sivan told TOI.

This mission, unlike Chandrayaan-1 which only orbited the Moon, involves a Lander soft-landing on the lunar surface and unloading a Rover to study and take measurements from the Moon, while the orbiter will go around the Earth’s satellite.

From a new landing profile—TOI reported first that the lander would now go around the Moon instead on landing soon after the orbit insertion in August—that has brought about several changes to the newer problems this has resulted in, the team is working overtime to meet the deadline.

“As things stand, January deadline looks difficult to meet, but as the chairman has said there’s a window up to March,” one person working on Chandrayaan-2 told said.

Among major challenges are the integration of the fifth liquid engine to manage the additional load of the lander which now has to orbit the Moon, lander legs, rover integration, modified harness and so on.

Earlier this year, after the changes were made to the configuration, the fifth liquid engine failed a crucial qualification heat test. The Chandrayaan-2 mission will not be possible without this engine.

While confirming this, Sivan had told TOI in August: “The engine is fine, there was a problem with the way the test was conducted. Out of enthusiasm, people did the test wrong. The space system is such that real space environment must be created. But the way this is simulated must be correct, otherwise, there will be a problem. In this case, instead of creating external heat, the engine itself was heated.” On Monday, he reiterated that the engine was alright and that it would be ready for the mission soon.

Rover Team Feedback

Also, in a recent development, the Rover team has written to the project management team that the new configuration has created a problem for the Rover unloading manoeuvre.

According to the feedback given by the Rover team, the new extended solar panels—necessitated by the new configuration—now extends well beyond the body of the lander casting a shadow on the rover when it has to come out of the lander.

One scientist explains: “All the systems on the rover will be in ‘off’ condition through the launch. Once the lander lands and the rover has to unload itself, the systems will be turned on, at which point there needs to be some solar energy. Although we have a battery, we won’t know if that is in charged condition as it would have remained off, so we wanted sunlight. Now, the extension of the solar panel (an additional 350 meters) is casting a shadow, depriving the rover of sunlight during this manoeuvre.”

Sivan, however, said: “These are design challenges which will be overcome without much problem. It will all be corrected.” Sivan has been insistent that the testing of Chandrayaan-2 happen only after the entire configuration is ready. The complete integration is expected to be ready by November 30.

By : Times Of India

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