Indian Mars mission suffers glitch but 'no setback'

Nov 11, 2013
The PSLV-C25 rocket carrying the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at Sriharikota on November 5, 2013

India's Mars spacecraft suffered a brief engine failure Monday as scientists tried to move it into a higher orbit around Earth, but controllers denied any setback to the ambitious low-cost mission.

The Mars Orbiter Mission, which blasted off on November 5 for a 11-month trip to the Red Planet, is being launched on its way via an unusual "slingshot" method for interplanetary journeys.

Lacking a large enough rocket to blast directly out of Earth's atmosphere and gravitational pull, the Indian spacecraft is orbiting Earth until the end of the month while building up enough velocity to break free.

On Monday, during a fourth repositioning to take it 100,000 kilometres (62,000 miles) from Earth, the thruster engines briefly failed, leading the auto-pilot to take over.

"It's not a setback at all. Tomorrow again we'll raise the orbit to 100,000 kilometres," a spokesman for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Deviprasad Karnik, told AFP.

The spacecraft is currently at an orbit of 78,276 kilometres and will be raised again at 5 am Tuesday (2330 GMT Monday), an ISRO statement said.

India has never before attempted and more than half of all missions to Mars have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 2003.

The cost of the project, at 4.5 billion rupees ($73 million), is less than a sixth of the $455 million earmarked for a Mars probe by NASA which will launch later this month.

ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan has called the mission a "turning point" for India's space ambitions and one which would go on to prove its capabilities in rocket technology.

Explore further: Successful engine test enables SpaceX Falcon 9 soar to space station in Jan. 2015

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

India sets November 5 for Mars mission launch

Oct 22, 2013

Scientists on Tuesday set November 5 for the delayed launch of India's first mission to Mars, which was postponed due to problems in positioning a seaborne tracking system.

Indian Mars mission leader criticised over temple visit

Nov 07, 2013

The head of India's space agency, basking in plaudits after the launch of the country's first voyage to Mars, was brought down to earth Thursday by criticism of his decision to seek divine blessing for the mission.

Indian space head braced for tricky Mars challenge

Oct 31, 2013

The head of India's space agency warned Thursday of the immense complexity of sending a mission to Mars as the country prepares to send its first interplanetary probe to explore the atmosphere there.

Recommended for you

The top 101 astronomical events to watch for in 2015

Dec 24, 2014

Now in its seventh year of compilation and the second year running on Universe Today, we're proud to feature our list of astronomical happenings for the coming year. Print it, bookmark it, hang it on your ...

NASA image: Frosty slopes on Mars

Dec 24, 2014

This image of an area on the surface of Mars, approximately 1.5 by 3 kilometers in size, shows frosted gullies on a south-facing slope within a crater.

Opportunity rover struggles with flash memory problems

Dec 24, 2014

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, also known as "Oppy", is continuing its traverse southward on the western rim of Endeavour Crater despite computer resets and "amnesia" that have occurred after reformatting ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.