Bengaluru: Beginning its final descent to pull off a historic soft landing on the unexplored lunar surface, Chandrayaan-2 lander Vikram is scheduled for a powered-descent between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM on Saturday, followed by the touchdown of the Lander, carrying rover Pragyan, between 5:30 AM and 6:30 AM.

The landing will make India only the fourth nation (after USA, Russia, and China) to land a rover on the Moon and the first one to do so on the lunar south pole.

Further, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will also be present at the ISRO centre in Bengaluru to witness live the space feat, according to officials. Plus, 60-70 high school students from across the country will join him.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan said the proposed soft landing on the Moon was going to be a “terrifying” moment as the ISRO has not done it before, where as Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) manoeuvre was successfully carried out during the Chandrayaan-1 mission. Explaining the landing manoeuvres, Sivan had said once the manoeuvre starts from about 30 km to land on the surface of the moon, it will take 15 minutes.

“This 15 minutes travel of lander is new to ISRO. It is for the first time we are going to another body where there is no atmosphere and using the propulsion system we will have to break the velocity and bring the vehicle safely to soft land. To achieve this we will have to balance between the gravity and thrust. So we have to modulate the thrust of the engine,” he had said.

After the moon touch down by Vikram, the rover Pragyan will roll down from the former to carry out the research for which it was designed.

Chandrayaan-2, which has been developed by the ISRO, was scheduled to be launched on July 15; however, the launch had to be called off due to a technical snag. It was later launched into space, a week later, on Mark-III, a Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GLSV-MK III-M1), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in Sri Harikota, Andhra Pradesh.

The mission’s primary aim is to map the location and abundance of lunar water.