The 44.4-metre tall PSLV C 25 rocket stood on the pedestal of the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre spaceport in Sriharikota on Monday evening as ISRO prepared to launch its historic Mars Mission which,if successful,will propel India into a club populated by space agencies of only the US,Europe and erstwhile USSR.
The countdown for the launch,which commenced on Sunday,has been progressing smoothly. Things are normal. We are busy with preparatory work, PTI quoted an ISRO spokesman as saying.
The rocket carrying Mangalyaan is scheduled to lift off at 2.38 pm on Tuesday. Vehicle tracking stations at Port Blair,Bylalu and Brunei are on an alert mode,and Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) ships SCI Nalanda and SCI Yamuna,acting as seaborne terminals,have taken positions in the South Pacific Ocean,ISRO sources said.
The terminals on board the two ships will capture the crucial moment,over 40 minutes after lift-off,of the vehicle injecting the satellite into Earths orbit somewhere above South America.
The satellite is then expected to go around the Earth for 20-25 days before embarking on a nine-month voyage to the Red Planet on December 1,reaching the orbit of Mars on September 21,2014.
Only 21 of the total 51 missions sent to Mars so far have been successful.
ISRO chairman and Department of Space secretary K Radhakrishnan is learnt to have extended a personal invitation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to attend the launch,which will be shown live on TV and the web.
Former ISRO Chairman K Kasturirangan said the Mars Orbiter Mission was a well thought-out and a key milestone that would boost New Delhis credentials to join future collaborative international deep-space missions.
I think its a very major,key milestone for ISROs efforts to push the frontiers of research in space science to the deeper reaches of solar system, he said.
The venture has implications for improved science,technology and risk management,and its success was likely to lead to India becoming an active partner in the collaborative framework of international missions,Kasturirangan said.
The primary objectives of the Rs 450-crore mission are to demonstrate Indias technological capability to send a craft to orbit around Mars and conduct meaningful experiments such as looking for signs of life,take pictures of the Red Planet and study the Martian environment.
Another former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair,however,expressed scepticism about Mangalyaans methane sensors being effective and doing their designed task.
I saw a news clipping in one of the news channels where the current ISRO chairman (K Radhakrishnan) makes a statement that the mission is supposed to be looking for life on Mars. This according to me is utter nonsense. With a minuscule methane sensor,even if you want to look at methane,it cannot be done,he said.
NASA has come out very publicly after a rove experiment that there is no trace of life on Mars,Nair said. In spite of that,somebody making this kind of statement… They are fooling the nation. There is a limit to fooling the people and fooling the nation.