In October, India’s Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter navigated to avoid colliding with NASA’s LRO (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter), a close encounter that both agencies have recognized but little more about. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) revealed in a statement on November 15 that Chandrayaan-2 made a maneuver on October 18 to avoid a forecast close approach to LRO two days later. Chandrayaan-2 was projected to come within 3 kilometers of LRO if it hadn’t moved, according to the announcement.
ISRO and NASA collaborated beginning a week before the projected conjunction, according to the announcement. “Both agencies determined that the scenario justified a CAM (collision avoidance maneuver) to lessen the near approach risk,” ISRO said in a statement, alluding to the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter as CH2O.
However, the announcement did not clarify why Chandrayaan-2 was chosen to carry out the maneuver. Questions regarding the maneuver submitted on November 27 went unanswered by ISRO. The ISRO statement, which was released on the same day as the Russian anti-satellite test in the low Earth orbit that resulted in hundreds of bits of debris, was the first time any agency discussed the possibility of a collision. NASA did not respond to the close approach with its statement.
“NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization completely coordinated the CAM performed by ISRO’s Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft on October 18,” NASA spokesperson Nancy Jones stated in a November 30 statement in response to queries regarding the event filed November 19. “This type of cooperation amongst space agencies is a continuous component of assuring the safe operation of satellites orbiting the moon.” NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and Chandrayaan-2 were never in danger.”
The only comment NASA made regarding the close approach was that statement. NASA declined to comment on how the agencies decided Chandrayaan-2 is the spaceship to maneuver, or even how many times the LRO had come close to colliding with other spaceship in lunar orbit. ISRO said in a statement that it undertakes collision avoidance maneuvers (CAM) for satellites in the Earth orbit on a regular basis, but that this was “the very first time such a severely close conjunction was observed for the ISRO space exploration flight, necessitating an evasive maneuver.”
ISRO officials stated the spaceship would have sufficient propellant to function for 7.5 years when Chandrayaan-2 reached lunar orbit in August of 2019. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, on the other hand, has been in the lunar orbit since 2009. Project officials indicated they had adequate fuel on board for a minimum of six additional years of operations during a presentation at the Lunar Exploration Analysis group’s annual conference in August.