Countdown for Mars mission begins

CHENNAI: The countdown for the India's ambitious Rs 430-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) began on Sunday 6.08am at Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh, a space agency official said.

Click here to view the Original Image Size The countdown to the flight of Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) will be for 56.30 hours which is expected to blast off at 2.38pm on Tuesday, said an Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) official who did not wish to be named.

On Saturday, all the pre-countdown activities were carried out after Isro's Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) gave it the green signal for the rocket's flight Nov 1 from Sriharikota, around 80 km from here. 

Click here to view the Original Image Size According to Isro, the MOM objectives are two fold — technological and scientific.

The technological objectives include design and realization of Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion/capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.

Click here to view the Original Image Size It will also enable deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management and incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.

Click here to view the Original Image Size The scientific mission will be to explore the Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.

The 56 and-a-half hour countdown for the launch of India’s first space mission to Mars, slated for November 5, commenced on Sunday at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

“The 56 hours and 30 minutes countdown started as per schedule at 06.08 a.m. It is proceeding smoothly,” a spokesman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said over phone this morning.

ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV C25, carrying India’s first inter-planetary satellite Mars Orbiter Mission, is scheduled to lift off at 2.38 p.m. on November 5 from the spaceport of Sriharikota, some 100 km from here.

The Launch Authorisation Board had on November 1 given its consent for the launch of the MOM after the successful conduct of a launch rehearsal the previous day.

The rocket is expected to take over 40 minutes to inject the satellite into Earth’s orbit after the take off.

The vehicle tracking stations at Port Blair, Bylalu near Bangalore, Brunei and sea-borne terminals on board Shipping Corporation of India’s vessels SCI Nalanda and SCI Yamuna positioned at South Pacific Ocean have also been kept on alert, ISRO sources said.

Once launched, the satellite is expected to go around the Earth for 20-25 days, before embarking on a nine-month voyage to the red planet on December 1 and reach the orbit of the Mars on September 24, 2014.

If India succeeds in the Rs. 450-crore MOM mission, it would be the fourth in the world, after the US, Russia and Europe to do so.

European Space Agency (ESA) of European consortium, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the US and Roscosmos of Russia are the three agencies which have successfully undertaken missions to the red planet so far.

Though there have been 51 missions to the Mars, only 21 of them have been successful.

Keywords: India's Mars mission, Mangalyaan, PSLV C25, ISRO, satellite launch, Indian space programme