ISRO Mars Mission Launch Delayed as Pacific Storms Delay Main Tracking Ship Sent to Fiji
The launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission will be dealyed further owing to storms in the Pacific Ocean, which are affecting two major ships being sent to Fiji to track the trajectory of the PSLV launch with the payload for Mars Orbiter Mission.
However, the launch window is open from October 28 to November 19 and ISRO will launch the Mars Mission anytime during this period.
The main tracking ship MV SCI Nalanda is on its way to Fiji in the Pacific and is now expected to reach on Monday while the second ship Yamuna is already there.
The ships are crucial for tracking and relaying real-time data about the last stages of the launch to release the spacecraft, which will happen over the South Pacific.
Deviprasad Karnik, ISRO’s Media relations Director said: “The second ship Nalanda has been delayed by bad weather in the South Pacific. We expect it to reach there by October 21. Our decision should be made on October 22.”
ISRO had hoped to send up the Mars spacecraft on October 28, when the right time band or ‘window’ opens up to launch. Once missed, the opportunity comes up again after 26 months. The minimum energy transfer opportunity from Earth to Mars occurs once in 26 months. It requires a cumulative incremental velocity of 2.592 km/sec. The PSLV will inject the Mars-bound spacecraft from Sriharikota in the 250 X 23000 km orbit with an inclination of 17.864 degree.
If successful, ISRO would become the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after Russia’s Roscosmos, USA’s NASA, and Europe’s ESA.
NASA is providing communications and navigation support to the mission. The Indian Deep Space Network will perform navigation and tracking operations and NASA’s Deep Space Network will provide support services during the non-visible period of the Indian Deep Space Network.
Mars Orbiter Mission is ISRO’s first interplanetary mission to planet Mars with a spacecraft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit of 372 km by 80,000 km.
India’s next major space mission will be Chandrayaan-2, which is an Indo-Russian Mission with an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission to Moon. ISRO’s capability to soft-land on the Moon’s surface will be tested in Chandrayaan-2.