BENGALURU: Excitement mingled with anxiety has gripped the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) of the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), where about 500 scientists are working with bated breath towards the countdown of Vikram's touchdown.
Its a mood of jubilation and about 500 scientists are working towards to success of the mission, Chandrashekar from ISTRAC, ISRO, told TNIE as he dashed back to the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) which has been established at Bengaluru for round-the-clock operations for all remote sensing and scientific satellites.
The Prime Minister is scheduled to reach the centre at 1:15, following which he will view the landing before making an exit at 1:45, as per sources handling security.
Modi is scheduled to make an appearance again at 4 AM, well in time for the rover to roll out. Arrangements have been made in the complex for the prime minister to have an interaction with the students who were the fastest to answer an online quiz about the mission.
The media is kept huddled in the Satellite Control Centre (SCC) of ISTRAC, more than a kilometre from where the prime minister and the students will interact.
I will all begin with the powered descent scheduled at 1.40 am, while scientists have given the operation a bracket of an hour between 1 am and 2 am for the same. The lander will descend on the moon at the speed of 1.6km per second till it reaches a point beyond which it will move even slower at two metres per second. Scientists have given sufficient buffer time and have scheduled between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM for the touchdown of the lander.
Two hours after landing on the lunar surface, estimated at 3:55 am IST, a ramp from the lander will touch the ground. An hour and ten minutes later (estimated 5:05 am IST), the solar panel of the rover will be employed. A few minutes later, the rover pragyaan will begin to move from the lander and then (estimated at 5:55 am) Pragyaan will touch the moon's surface. "As the power has to be turned on and systems electronically stabilised."
For other members of ISRO its a moment of nervousness filled with excitement as "its not just a historic moment for his organisation but the entire country."
"It will validate a lot of technologies that the ISRO scientists have developed. Its success will ensure further progress is made and will be able to plan beyond Mars," Chandrashekar optimistically said.
Nirbhay Upady, member of the Rambha payload (of lander Vikram) was excited by the prospects of learning from the in situ measurement of the lunar surface plasma.
Rohit Thomas a resident from the vicinity from 35 years said it was the first time he would see the prime minister, although this would be Modi's second visit. He did not recall another prime minister visiting the centre for any space missions.
He knew of the prime minister's arrival only three days ago, just like the other residents from the various streets around ISTRAC.
Everybody should be proud of our scientists: Nirmala Sitharman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 is a historic mission because it will land on that part of the Moon where no country has landed so far. ReShe said the whole country everybody should be proud of our scientists at ISRO and should appreciate the mission with good spirit.