Monday, September 22, 2014

ISRO's Mars Orbiter Wakes Up, Fires Engines Successfully

After sleeping for 300 days, India's Mars Orbiter spacecraft awakened to successfully test-fire its engines, in preparation for its main insertion maneuver on Wednesday, which will place it into Mars orbit:

If all goes well, ISRO will become the 4th space agency to successfully put a spacecraft into orbit around Mars - the first to do so on a maiden attempt. (Technically, since the European mission was launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket, India would be the 3rd to succeed all-indigenously).

With the awakening and test-firing out of the way, one of the key hurdles has been crossed. Various previous attempts by others had seen their spacecraft fail to awaken after such a long dormancy, given the cold conditions of space and the dangers of cosmic rays.

Meanwhile, NASA's Maven spacecraft has arrived in Mars orbit a couple of days ahead of ISRO's, with both teams giving each other best wishes. Both teams have formed a joint panel to look at possible cooperation between the 2 missions. ISRO's MOM will likely reach Mars with fuel to spare.

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