Mars spacecraft off to Sriharikota

Mars spacecraft  off to Sriharikota

Like Chandrayaan-1, which made the road trip from ISRO Satellite Centre to Sriharikota on October 2 and 3, 2008, before its destination — the Moon, India’s first Mars mission too is undertaking similar road journey of 345 km from Bangalore to Sriharikota on October 2 and 3. Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008.

The Mars launch is planned for October 28 exactly five years later, in the same month, six days later.

The spacecraft, expected to travel 55 million km to Mars from earth over 10 months to reach Mars orbit in September 2014, has set off in a trailer, wading through road humps and potholes through K R Puram bus stand before reaching Chennai Highway at Hoskote. The mega trailer, with a convoy with of security vehicles, departed at 6.30 am and is expected to reach Sriharikota on October 3 around noon. The overall road journey will last around 32 hours.

The convoy consists of CISF vehicles and cars with scientists and technical personnel. What is interesting is the trailer will travel at a speed of 10 km an hour to ensure there is no damage caused by bad road conditions to the container and the spacecraft. Isro spokersperson Deviprasad Karnik said “the speed of the vehicle and stops are pre-determined. The driver must take breaks only at identified locations for refreshments, lunch and dinner. The security staff ensures the trailer stops exactly where it is supposed to.  The trailer and security are in constant touch with Isro headquarters which monitors how much distance the trailer has travelled and where it is at any given point.”

How will the trailer handle road humps, pits and potholes? Karnik said: we put the satellite (spacecraft) through severe shock tests and ensure it withstands shocks greater than what potholes can generate. The satellite goes through vibration tests too. The container is made of a material that can take unevenness.  The spacecraft is kept inside the container at a particular temperature and air pressure. Nitrogen is pumped in to the container and maintained at a certain pressure to ensure the spacecraft (satellite) is safe. The mars spacecraft, which begins its journey at 10km/hour, will travel at 25,000 miles per hour, once it crosses earth.

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