India’s spacecraft to Mars has bid adieu to its Earth-bound orbit and is cruising in its sun-centric orbit. In a remarkably successful execution of a complex manoeuvre, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) fired the propulsion system on board the spacecraft for a prolonged duration of 23 minutes from 0049 hours on Sunday.

In space parlance, the manoeuvre is called Trans-Mars Injection (TMI). ISRO called it “the mother of all slingshots.” Celebrations broke out at the control centre of the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore from where the spacecraft specialists gave commands for the orbiter’s 440 Newton engine to begin firing.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told The Hindu from ISTRAC, “Everything went of well. We took stock of the spacecraft’s health and everything is normal. We just had a meeting with all the ground controllers and mission directors who briefed us on the spacecraft’s systems and all are working well.”

M. Annadurai, Programme Director, Indian Remotesensing Satellites and Small Satellites, ISRO, said “everything was normal during the firing, which went on as per the planned timeline.” He added that there was jubilation in the ISTRAC control room with scientists distributing sweets.

“We had exciting moments and a satisfying day,” said S. Arunan, Project Director, Mars Orbiter. “The sun-centric phase has started and the Canberra station has started acquiring the spacecraft for tracking it.” Deviprasad Karnik, ISRO spokesman, said the spacecrafts propulsion system produced a textbook performance.

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