Today at 2:38 PM IST, India made its bid to join the elite rank of interplanetary space-faring nations with the successful launch of its unmanned Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) from the First Launch Pad at the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (IRSO) Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) on the island of Sriharik
This morning, fueling of the PSLV-C25 rocket was completed and all vehicle systems were switched on for the final countdown at 6:08 AM IST. The Mobile Service Tower was withdrawn, and at 2:24 PM IST, the Mission Director gave the “Go” for launch. At 2:38 PM, the Mars rocket lifted off without a hitch with stage, strap-on rockets, and heat shield separations going as planned.
The fourth stage ignited 33 minutes after the launch at the end of an unusual 27-minute coasting phase. Then, 43 minutes into the launch, the fourth stage shut down and the probe separated from the booster less than one minute later.
There had been concern about the weather because the launch center is prone to high winds, but mission control says that today the weather was cooperative and the launch trajectory of the booster was adjusted to take into account the wind velocity at the site.
The MOM probe is currently in Earth orbit, where it is positioning itself for Mars transfer orbit insertion. Burning a combination of monomethyl hydrazine and dinitrogen tetroxide, the main engine will fire a total of six times on on November 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 16 to place it an elliptical parking orbit with an apogee of 23,000 km (14,000 mi) and a perigee of 238 km (148 mi). It will remain there until November 30, when it will fire its engine again to send it on its way to Mars.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25).