Sriharikota (ISJ): Amidst bated breaths by top space scientists and technologists, India?s maiden interplanetary spacecraft lifted off on its mission to Mars or Mangal in Hindi.
The perfect lift off at 1438 hours, amidst applause, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Southern India, the trusted warhorse PSLV-C25 blasted off to skyward, under the watchful eyes of scientists at the Space Centre and on two ships - Nalanda and Yamuna -somewhere in Southern Pacific Ocean, monitoring it.
In 42 minutes of the blast off, Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will be put into a 248 km-by-23,000 km.
elliptical Earth Parking Orbit, where it will stay until December 01, before moving to its next course of 240 million mile voyage to the Red Planet, Mars. The spacecraft is expected to reach Mar?s Orbit by September, 2014.
"I am happy to announce, we have placed Mars Orbiter very precisely into an elliptical orbit around Earth. This is the 25th flight of PSLV and it has been a new and complex mission design to ensure that you will be able to move into Earth?s Orbit to Mars Orbit with minimum energy," said an elated Dr. K. Radhakrishnan, Chief of ISRO and Space Secretary.
India, thus enters the select six-nation club of spacefaring countries ? USA, European Union, Russia, China and Japan. Only USA and European Union and Russia have track record of mission success.
India's Mars Mission ? Mangalyaan is unique in several ways. It is the most cost effective mission ? just 70 million US dollars, as against 2.5 billion US dollar Curiosity Mission by NASA of United States. The credit for putting together a spacecraft fitted with five solar-powered instruments to Martian orbit goes to the innovations and improvisation of technology by Indian space scientists and engineers. Only 21 out of a total of 51 missions to Mars by these five countries have been successful.
MOM's twin objectives include showcasing India's capability to go beyond Earth's orbit and its affordability of commercial satellite-launching services. The second objective is to conduct meaningful experiments to look for signs of life and study the Martian environment. The launch follows India's successful unmanned mission to the Moon ? Chandrayaan-1 in October 2008. Chandrayaan had sent back evidence of presence of water for the first time.