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Dec 01, 2013 at 03:42pm IST

Mars Orbiter leaves Earth's orbit, to reach red planet by Sept 2014

Bangalore: Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Mars Orbiter Mission has crossed its first major milestone when it was propelled out of the Earth's orbit, onwards onto its 750 million kilometer journey to Mars on Sunday 1 am.

"The Trans Mars Injection (TMI) operations, which began at 00.49 am (IST) has been completed," ISRO said in a statement. The spacecraft is now expected to enter the orbit of Mars after a 300-day long journey and will revolve around the planet for six months to complete its mission.

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ISRO Programme Director M Annadurai said, "Today early morning there was a 23 minutes of firing flawlessly. It ensured going away from the Earth's orbit. The final orbit will happen in September 2014."

ISRO is scheduled to make four corrections in the course of the spacecraft's voyage to Mars before it is expected to reach the orbit of the red planet in September 2014.

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The national space agency had performed five orbit-raising manoeuvres on its Mars Orbiter, raising the apogee (farthest point from Earth) of the spacecraft to over 1.92 lakh km, before it performed the "mother of all slingshots."

ISRO's PSLV C 25 successfully injected the 1,350-kg 'Mangalyaan' Orbiter (Mars craft) into the orbit around the Earth some 44 minutes after a text book launch at 2.38 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on November 5, marking the successful completion of the first stage of the Rs 450 crore mission.

More than half of all Mars missions have failed, no one has managed success on the first attempt.

ISRO's press release on the mission

The critical manoeuvre to place India's Mars Orbiter Spacecraft in the Mars Transfer Trajectory was successfully carried out in the early hours of today (Sunday, December 1, 2013). 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.

(With additional information from PTI)