Indian space agency: Mars mission 4th orbit maneuver successful

Nov. 11, 2013 at 10:53 PM
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HYDERABAD, India, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- India's space agency said it successfully completed the fourth orbit raising maneuver of its Mars Orbiter Tuesday morning, overcoming an earlier minor glitch.

The glitch related to the Mars Orbiter Mission, launched a week ago, not reaching its intended apogee (farthest point from Earth) of 100,000 kilometers (62,137 miles) on Monday during its fourth orbit-raising operation, reaching only 78,276 kilometers in orbit around Earth.

The Indian Space Research Organization then decided to conduct a supplementary operation early Tuesday. In its latest announcement on its website, the agency said: "Fourth supplementary orbit raising maneuver of Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, starting at 05:03:50 hrs (a.m. local time) on Nov 12, 2013, with a burn time of 303.8 seconds has been successfully completed. The observed change in Apogee is from 78,276 kilometers to 118, 642 kilometers."

With the launch of its first spacecraft to Mars last Tuesday, India is hoping to join an exclusive group of those who have successfully reached the Red Planet. The craft is known in India as "Mangalyaan."

If the orbiter reaches Mars, which will be known in about 10 months, India would join the ranks of the United States, Russia and Europe to have achieved such success. The low-cost Indian Mars mission was begun last year and completed in 15 months at a cost of less than $75 million.

The Mangalyaan will gather data to help understand the Martian weather systems and also search Mars for methane, which is part of the life process on Earth.

Indian space agency experts have said the spacecraft is in normal health a week after its launch.

Two more orbit raising operations will be conducted in the coming days. The crucial trans-Mars orbit injection is scheduled for Dec. 1.

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