The Indian Space Research Organisation said early on Wednesday that the Chandrayaan-2 moon lander Vikram had successfully carried out its second de-orbiting manoeuvre. On Tuesday, the spacecraft had completed its first de-orbiting manoeuvre.

“With this manoeuvre the required orbit for the Vikram Lander to commence it descent towards the surface of the Moon is achieved,” the space agency said in a statement. ISRO said the nine-second manoeuvre was executed at 3.42 am Indian Standard Time using the on-board propulsion system.

The spacecraft is orbiting the moon at a perigee of 96 kilometres and an apogee of 125 km. The Vikram Lander is orbiting at a perigee of 35 km and an apogee of 101 km. Orbits are not circular, hence the distance between the orbiting object and the object it is orbiting does not remain constant – the perigee is the shortest distance and the apogee is the furthest the object can be in the orbit.

“Both the Orbiter and Lander are healthy,” the space agency said. It added that the Vikram Lander is scheduled for a high-powered descent between 1 am and 2 am on September 7, followed by touchdown between 1.30 am and 2.30 am.

On Monday, Vikram broke free from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter. On September 7, the spacecraft will complete its soft landing on the moon.

If the mission is successful, India will become the fourth country to achieve a soft landing on the moon after the United States, Russia and China. A successful landing would make Chandrayaan-2 the first lunar probe on the south polar region of the moon.

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