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Mars Orbiter clears last hurdle

Mars Orbiter clears last hurdle
Highlights

The Mars orbiter liquid engine test-firing which was crucial in determining the fate of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been successful, as confirmed by ISRO.

  • Mangalyaan is 'healthy', says Radhakrishnan
  • Main liquid engine test-firing very successful
  • Engine had perfect burn for 4 seconds as planned
  • Test was to make sure engine was in good shape
  • If the mission succeeds India will be the first country to insert a spacecraft in Martian orbit in its maiden attempt

Bangalore: The Mars orbiter liquid engine test-firing which was crucial in determining the fate of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been successful, as confirmed by ISRO.

After igniting the engine, ISRO tweeted, "Mars Orbiter engine test-firing must have completed. We'll get a confirmation after the communication delay of 12 minutes." A few minutes later, it tweeted --Main Liquid Engine test-firing successful!

ISRO chief K Radhakrishanan expressed joy over the achievement. He said the spacecraft was healthy and had completed 88 per cent of its journey, adding that the space agency is prepared for the critical operation to be conducted at 7.30 am on September 24 when Mangalyaan will enter Mars' orbit. While he was confident that India would be able to achieve success in its maiden Mars mission, Radhakrishnan added that ISRO was “looking for all possibilities if something doesn’t happen as per the plan”.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission tested its last manoeuvre around 2.30pm on Monday when the main liquid engine of the spacecraft was fired for 4 seconds. The craft’s 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor engine which had been idle for 300 days since the spacecraft left the Earth's orbit on a Martian trajectory on December 1, 2013, had a perfect burn for four seconds as planned.

The engine was test fired for 3.968 seconds with fuel consumption of about 0.567 kg and with a decremental velocity of 2.142 meters/second. The test was to make sure that the engine is in good shape for the 24-minute manoeuvre on Wednesday.

With this success, ISRO now gears up for the D-day, 24th September. With the engine firing confirmed, MOM can now go ahead with their plan for the Mars orbit insertion without any hurdle. The Rs.450-crore ($70 million) ambitious mission was launched Nov 5, 2013 on board a polar rocket from spaceport Sriharikota off Bay of Bengal, about 80 km northeast of Chennai.

"India will be the first country in the world to insert a spacecraft into the Martian orbit in a maiden attempt if the operation succeeds," ISRO Scientific Secretary V. Koteshwara Rao claimed.

Meanwhile, NASA has recently stated that they are ready to share their data, observed by the Maven spacecraft, with India, whose Mars Orbiter Mission would arrive around 48 hours earlier on Mars. Dr Jim Green, NASA's director of planetary science, said that NASA was really quite interested in cooperating and correlating data-sets, the BBC reported. After both spacecrafts get into the orbit and the scientists understand their data, those opportunities would open up, he further added.

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