Bangalore/Chennai: India’s maiden spacecraft to Mars headed early Sunday to the red planet 22 minutes after leaving earth’s gravity and entering the sun orbit in the interplanetary space.
“The spacecraft is on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around sun,” the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.
India is the first country in the world to successfully sling the Orbiter into the cosomos in its maiden attempt towards Mars, 440-million km away from earth in the solar system.
“The trans Mars injection operation was successful,” state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told IANS on phone.
The 440 Newton liquid engine burn time was 22.15 minutes and the imparted incremental velocity (speed) was 648 metres per second.
“The liquid engine onboard propelled the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) into sun orbit at 01:11 a.m. and India into the interplanetary space,” a senior space agency official said.
Scientists at the Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (Istrac) of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) here fired the engine onboard by giving commands an hour in advance to the computer in the spacecraft.
“The Orbiter departed earth’s gravity at 12:49 a.m. for its 680-million km voyage to reach Mars on Sep 24, 2014, ISRO director Deviprasad Karnic said.
Just after midnight, the spacecraft was rotated forward in the earth’s final orbit at 192,918 km apogee (farthest from equator) to position it in the right orientation at 12:30 a.m. for the crucial sling manoeuvre at 12:49 a.m. after onboard computer took over the operations.
The 1,337 kg Orbiter is being monitored from Istrac with support from its deep space network antennae at Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore.