After a successful launch on November 5th 2013 the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO executed the last of the five orbit-raising burns on its Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter Mission raising the apogee (farthest point from Earth). “The fifth orbit-raising maneuver of Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, starting at 01:27am (IST).. with a burn time of 243.5 seconds has been successfully completed. The observed change in apogee is from 1,18,642 km to 1,92,874 km,” ISRO said.
The next and most crucial burn is the trans-Mars injection. This will place the spacecraft on a trajectory to mars, The burn is planned to take place at 12.42am on December 1. It will reach the orbit of the red planet by September 24, 2014.
The mission did encounter an issue when one of the burns was cold (or shorter than expected). ISOR managed to overcome the issue and extended the following ones to obtain the needed orbit before the trans-Mars injection. If successful the mission will allow India to join the small club of nations with the U.S. and Russia that have managed to successfully send a mission to Mars. In addition this would be one of the least expensive at $75 million dollars.
The spacecraft is fairly small and simple which helped in the reduction of cost. NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars which is due to launch on November 18th, 2013 is one of NASA’s Mars Scout missions with target a cost of less than $485 million, not including launch services, which cost approximately $187 million.
There is still a long way to go but ISRO has completed several important and risky parts of the mission. They are well on their way to Mars with only the final burn remaining followed by the 10 month coast to the red planet.