Successful test of the cryogenic engine to be used to launch India's second moon mission

The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully tested the Cryogenic Engine CE-20, which will power GSLV Mk-III, the launch vehicle for Chandrayaan-2, India's second lunar exploration mission.

Ten year after the launch of Chandrayaan-1, the first Indian planetary probe to the moon, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is preparing for Chandrayaan-2. It is scheduled for a January 3, 2019 launch, and its lander and rover should touch down near the lunar south pole in February.


Chandrayan-1 lift off - © ISRO


In order to send the orbiter to the moon, ISRO is going to use the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk-III). It is a three stage launch vehicle. The upper stage is powered by CE-20, a cryogenic rocket engine, which operates on gas generator cycle using LOX/LH2 propellants combination. The major subsystems of the engine are thrust chamber, gas generator, LOX (liquid oxygen) and LH2 (liquid hydrogen) turbo pumps, igniters, thrust and mixture ratio control systems, Start-up system, control components and pyro valves. It is the first Indian cryogenic engine to feature a gas-generator cycle. It produces a nominal thrust of 200 kN.

The engine was successfully tested on October 11, 2018 since it completed 25 second long flight acceptance test in high altitude conditions.

The main finding of Chandrayaan-1 was direct evidence of water on the moon. Some deposits were found as water-ice concentrated near the polar regions of the moon, in craters on the far side of the moon, and in the lunar exosphere. Those discoveries were made thanks to different instruments including the Moon Mineralogy Mapper.


Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3)


Unlike the first mission, Chandrayaan-2 will use an orbiter, a lander and a rover. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter. After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover.

The mission will carry a six-wheeled rover which will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil.

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