Mars spacecraft to be ordered into orbit

Commands for lowering India’s Mars spacecraft into the Red Planet’s orbit will be loaded into the spacecraft on Sunday. But the real execution of these commands by firing the spacecraft’s propulsion system, 440 Newton engine, to insert the spacecraft into the Martian orbit will take place on September 24.

It is the most complex and crucial manoeuvre in the mission because the 440 Newton has to crackle into life that day after hibernation in deep space for about 300 days.

K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said, “Commands will be loaded into the Mars spacecraft on Sunday for its insertion into the Martian orbit.” Since the spacecraft is on its course to Mars, there would be no trajectory correction manoeuvre of the spacecraft, originally scheduled on the same day. “We are doing a re-start of the 440 Newton engine for four seconds at 2 p.m. on September 22. We are doing that re-start to confirm [that the engine will erupt into life on September 24],” he said.

On September 24, the 440 Newton engine would be fired for 24 minutes to slow down the spacecraft to help it to get into the Martian orbit of 377 km by 80,000 km around the Red Planet. Dr. Radhakrishnan said, “If this main engine has a problem, we will fire the eight numbers of 22 Newton engine on board the spacecraft. It is a contingency plan. Then the spacecraft will get into a different kind of orbit.”

The Mars spacecraft and its five scientific instruments are in good health. On September 11, the spacecraft was just about 35 lakh km away from Mars while it had already covered more than 64 crore km in its epic voyage.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 10:25:26 PM |

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