India hopes to become only the fourth country – behind the US, the former Soviet Union and China – to make a soft landing on the surface of the moon when its Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft attempts the feat early Saturday local time (Friday eastern time).
Chandrayaan-2, which translates as “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on July 22, a week after its first launch was called off due to a “technical snag”.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reported that its orbiter and landing module successfully separated on Monday – six weeks into the mission.
It expects the lander and rover to touch down early Saturday local time. If successful, it will be the first time a spacecraft has landed on the moon’s south polar region.
Once there, a rover will detach from the lander and start to map the south region, collecting mineral and chemical samples for remote scientific analysis.
Viewing the landing
So where can you watch the landing?
ISRO will broadcast updates on its website (isro.gov.in) from its headquarters in Bengaluru, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be watching. It will also appear on India’s Press Information Bureau YouTube channel.
Additionally, National Geographic and Hotstar will provide live coverage from 11:30 p.m. Indian time (2 p.m. ET) on Friday, with the veteran NASA astronaut Jerry Linenger on air to share his expertise.
Correction: This story has been updated with the correct title of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.