The Indian Space Research Organisation’s Mars Orbiter mission is on track for a September-October, 2013, launch and preparations for the mission were progressing as per schedule, said the space agency’s chairman K Radhakrishnan.
He made a formal announcement of the programme in a press conference here on Monday. He said the challenges faced were in terms of distance, communication delays and radiation protection.
“The orbiter must be launched by October, as Mars will be at its closest point to Earth in November. The orbiter will be launched by PSLV XL launch vehicle after which its apogee will be increased from 20,000 km to 2 lakh km before it begins its voyage for Mars,” Radhakrishnan said.
The voyage is expected to take 300 days, after which ISRO will face challenges in reigniting the engines for entering Mar’s orbit.
“The PSLV XL is tried and tested. The spacecraft is being built, and the propulsion systems are being modified. We have arrangements with other international space programmes’ ground stations for assistance in the initial stages,” he said.
The Mars Orbiter would carry on board nine scientific experiments, and future missions would see more experiments, he said.
He also said the current mission’s priority was to successfully reach Mars. That itself was a technological achievement.
The satellite would have a communication delay of 20 minutes because of the distance, and we were trying to make it as autonomous in its functioning as possible, he added.
Work in Progress on Human Space Flight
ISRO will be banking on the GSLV Mark III for its manned space flight mission since the launch vehicle will have the capacity to carry three humans. “The reason we have not announced manned space flight programme is because we need a reliable launch vehicle. The government has approved `150 crore for pre project studies and research on crew escape system and other studies are on,” said Radhakrishnan. He added that once the decision was made, ISRO would be ready with the basics.