India Spacecraft to Enter Mars Orbit this Week

Mangalyaan

Mangalyaan Launch November 5th 2013

After a successful launch on November 5th 2013 the Indian Space Research Organization ISRO is set to place the Mangalyaan spacecraft into orbit around the red planet. The spacecraft will arrive right on schedule after an earlier thruster issue during the flight. Earlier in the mission the spacecraft encountered a problem when one of the burns to place it on trajectory to mars 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.

The spacecraft is fairly small and simple demonstration mission which helped keep the cost to a relatively low $75 Million. NASA’s MAVEN mission to Mars arrived at Mars last Sunday. MAVEN 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.

Related: How did India launch a Mars Mission at such a low cost?

Mangalyaan is expected to reach Mars at 7:41 a.m. India Standard Time on Wednesday,  Sept. 24,  10:11 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 23. The 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) of India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, last fired on December 01, 2013. It again was successfully fired for a duration of 3.968 seconds on September 22, 2014. With this successful test firing, Mars Orbiter Insertion (MOI) operation of the spacecraft is scheduled to be performed on the morning of September 24, 2014 at 07:17:32  India Standard Time by firing the LAM along with eight smaller liquid engines for a duration of about 24 minutes.

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.

Monitor the status of the Mission on the ISRO update site.

About the author

Recipient of many prestigious NASA Awards including the Exceptional Public Service Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award. Experience includes working for NASA, as a contractor, in satellite design, construction and operations. Expert in the satellite operations concepts and ground systems including command, control, and science data processing.