India’s Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft (also called Mangalyaan) has finally begun its journey to Mars. On the early hours, Today (Sunday, December 1, 2013), the Orbiter was successfully elevated from Earth’s Polar Trajectory to Mars Transfer Trajectory. The step was considered as the most critical of all steps in the entire Mission.
During this manoeuvre, which began at 00:49 today, the spacecraft’s 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for about 22 minutes providing a velocity increment of 648 meters/second to the spacecraft. Following the completion of this manoeuvre, the Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the Sun.
It may be recalled that Mars Orbiter spacecraft was launched into an elliptical parking orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 248 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 23,550 km by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV on November 5, 2013.
Following this, the apogee height of the spacecraft’s orbit was successively raised through a series of manoeuvres to nearly 1,93,000 km. Besides, health checks of the Mars Orbiter spacecraft as well as its payloads were performed. Since its launch, all systems on-board Mars Orbiter spacecraft are performing normally.
The spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu.