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India’s Mars mission will go ahead as scheduled, says ISRO

Bangalore, Oct 7 (): ISRO confirms that India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will go ahead as scheduled on October 28.  US government partial shut down will not affect India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, NASA has reaffirmed.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) spokesperson Deviprasad Karnik said, “There is no delay. We are going ahead with our MOM as scheduled.”

NASA will keep its DSN, an international network of antennas operational, which tracks interplanetary spacecraft missions. Earlier, NASA has asked 97% of its 18,000-strong workforce to go on unpaid leave.

NASA announced that it would go ahead with its own Mars mission MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN), slated for launch as early as November 18.

Mission to Mars, or the Mangalyaan Mission is India’s Rs 450 crore project is scheduled for lift-off at 4.15pm on October 28, 2013, the first day of the launch window which remains open till November 19.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) would go around our planet for 20-25 days before starting on a nine month voyage to the red planet.

An ISRO spokeman said, “We don’t need NASA DSN support during initial days after the launch as small antennas can track but when it moves further and further away from earth, we need such a support.” NASA was to help in accurate determination and reconfirmation of orbit and position of spacecraft.

However, NASA’s space network facilities in Australia, Spain and the US are scheduled to provide navigation and tracking support.

Prof UR Rao, chairman of the national committee of experts said, “The launch window is important. We’re trying to launch the spacecraft in the beginning of the window. If not November 19, we have time till early December. But once that is lost, we’ll have to wait for two years.”

The spacecraft left Bangalore on Wednesday and reached launch site Sriharikota on Thursday evening.

In November 2011, a Russian-Chinese joint venture to send an orbiter to Mars failed after the spacecraft failed to leave Earth’s orbit and crashed back.