Published on : Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The Mission Control Room at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre about 100 km from Chennai, is abuzz with activity as scientists are monitoring the countdown time for the launch of India’s first mission to the red planet.
“The countdown is progressing normally. All vehicle systems were switched on for the final eight-and-half hour countdown which started at 6:08 a.m.,” an ISRO spokesman told PTI.
The 76-metre tall Mobile Service Tower covering the 44.4-metre rocket has been withdrawn to a distance of around 150 metres to facilitate the launch, ISRO said.
Ever since its establishment in 1969, ISRO has only launched missions around the Earth for various purposes and a single mission to the Moon. This is the first time the national space agency is aspiring to send a mission to study a celestial body outside Earth’s sphere of influence.
India’s Mars Orbiter is expected to reach the red planet’s orbit by September 2014 and look for the presence of methane, an indicator of life there.
ISRO has put in place an extensive network of stations worldwide to track the Mars Orbiter Mission after launch from the first launch pad here at 2.38 p.m.