M A I N   N E W S

With Mars probe launch today, India ready for historic leap
Shubhadeep Choudhury/TNS

Bangalore, November 4
A day before the launch of India’s ambitious Mars mission, Kunhikrishnan, mission director of PSLV-C25 launcher that is slated to put the Mars orbiter in space, was having his breakfast of “idli and sambar” like any other day when this reporter called him up. 

The mission to Mars will be the ninth launch in Kunhikrishnan’s career. He has been the mission director of eight successful PSLV launches so far.

“The good thing is that the weather is good,” the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist said, taking a break from his morning repast to talk to The Tribune.

S Arunan, project director of the Mars orbiter, also sounded relaxed. “The 56.5-hour countdown that started early yesterday is progressing well. Naturally, we are all very excited about the launch,” he said. He also expressed satisfaction about the weather conditions prevailing at Sriharikota, where ISRO’s spaceport is located.

Ordinary bad weather, however, is not a problem for the 44.4-metre-tall PSLV launcher weighing 320 tonne that will blast off at 2.38 pm tomorrow from the first launch pad at Sriharikota to put the orbiter in an elliptical orbit around the Earth.

Only heavy lightning accompanied by thundershower can create problem for the launch. Lightning towers are in place around the launch pad to offset effects of lighting.

“It is a very important mission,” said Kunhikrishnan. The launch tomorrow will also be more complicated and different too than the previous launches carried out under his supervision.

The flight sequence of the launcher carrying the orbiter is going to be different from all previous PSLV launches. Argument of Perigee (AOP) required for the Mars mission ranges from 276.4 degree to 288.6 degree. In all previous missions of the PSLV, the AOP was 178 degree.

To reach its destination, the launch vehicle will travel for over 44 minutes (2,657 seconds) before the separation of Mars orbiter from the vehicle. PSLV’s usual flight has lasted 20 minutes (1,200 seconds) so far.





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