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Mars mission satellite mated with rocket, new launch date to be decided on Tuesday : ISRO

Bangalore, Oct 21 (): The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said Sunday the Mars spacecraft, whose launch has been scheduled for October 28 has been delayed by almost a week, while the agency had completed integration of its Mars mission satellite with the rocket while the heat shield is expected to be closed in a couple of days, said an official.

An ISRO official said, “The 1,340 kg satellite was mated with the rocket today (Sunday). The heat shield will be closed in two or three days after tests. Everything is progressing normally on the rocket and the satellite side”.

Spokesman Deviprasad Karnik said, “The integration is completed”. A new launch date would be decided on Tuesday, he said. The initial launch window for the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) was from October 28 to November 19.

Five years ago, India launched its first successful Moon mission, Chandrayaan I. If the mission successfully positions a spacecraft in the red planet’s orbit, ISRO will become only the fourth space agency, after those in the US, Europe and Russia to have successfully sent a spacecraft to Mars.

In 2011, a Chinese effort to send a spacecraft to Mars named Yinghou-1 was cancelled because of a technical problem. The Indian space agency then progressed its Mars mission, called Mangalyaan, readying it in just 15 months.

The American NASA/JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) is giving communications and navigation support to this mission with their deep space network facilities.

The mission will be a 300-day journey for the craft in three phases – Geo-centric phase, Helio-centric phase and finally the Martian phase-which will be around 573,000 km from the surface of the Earth.

Dr A S Kiran Kumar, director of Space Applications Center (SAC) of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said, “On August 15, last year Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced India’s intention to send an orbiter to Mars. In 14 months, ISRO was ready with an orbiter craft. The only experience ISRO has with a mission to another celestial body is Chandrayaan I to the Moon”.