India readies Mars orbiter

India readies Mars orbiter

 India has built a Mars orbiter for launch between October and November from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, a senior space agency official said Wednesday.

“The spacecraft for our maiden Mars mission is ready for launch between Oct 21 and Nov 19 on board a rocket with five instruments to conduct various experiments while orbiting the red planet after a nine-month voyage," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellite centre director S.K. Shivkumar told reporters at a preview of the orbiter here.

The country’s tryst with the red planet will cost the state-run ISRO Rs.450 crore, including Rs.150 crore for the spacecraft, Rs.110 crore for the rocket and Rs.190 crore to augment the ground stations for the mission’s operations.

“The spacecraft has been built in a record 12 months to orbit around Mars for at least six months at a distance of 375km from its surface and 80,000 km when away elliptically,” Mars orbiter mission project director S. Arunan said.

After final configuration and testing, the 1,340 kg spacecraft (at lift-off) will be shipped to the spaceport Sep 27 for integrating it with the 350-tonne rocket, which is an extended version of the space agency’s workhorse-polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-XL).

“The launch date and timing of lift-off will be decided during the one-month window, based on weather conditions and other critical parameters,” Arunan said.

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