The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully boosted the orbit of its Mars spacecraft by firing the 440 Newton engine aboard it at 1.17 a.m. on Thursday. The engine sizzled with life for seven minutes from 1.17 a.m. and this raised the Mars orbiter’s apogee from 23,566 km to 28,825 km from the earth and its perigee from 247 km to 252 km. ISRO scientists sent the command for firing the engine from the state-of-the-art ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) situated in Bangalore.
This is the first of the six tricky orbit-raising manoeuvres that ISRO will perform as its Mars spacecraft circumambulate the earth during the next 25 days. The second orbit-raising manoeuvre will take place Friday early morning. The sixth and last orbit-raising operation will be done on December 1 when the Mars orbiter will be shot out of its earth-orbit into a sun-centric orbit. From then on, the spacecraft will coast around the sun for 300 days before the ISRO tries to capture it in the Martian orbit on September 24, 2014.
The ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) on Tuesday put the Mars orbit into an earth-bound orbit with a perigee of 247 km and an apogee of 23,566 km.
K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO Chairman, told The Hindu on Thursday that the ISRO fired the liquid engine on board the Mars orbiter for seven minutes starting from 1.17 a.m. and this firing boosted the spacecraft apogee from 23,566 km to 28,825 km.
“At 2.15 a.m. tomorrow (Friday), we will fire the engine again for about 582 seconds, for almost ten minutes, and we will raise the apogee to about 40,000 km from the earth,” said Dr. Radhakrishan.
The ISRO had earlier calibrated the 440 Newton engine before starting to fire it on Thursday early morning.