India test-fires Mars mission engine
MUMBAI: The engines of the Indian Mars orbiter were tested for the first time on Monday morning. Speaking to TOI from Bangalore, Isro chief spokesperson Devi Prasad Karnik said the engine, known as the liquid apogee motor (LAM), was fired for about 670 seconds at Isro's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendra Giri in Tamil Nadu. "The test was successful and will go on for about 45 days," he said.
The mission is slated for lift off towards the end of October or beginning of November 2013.
LAM plays a key role in orbit raising manoeuvres. The current mission profile of the mission envisages the orbiter operating in the earth-bound orbit six times as its altitude is raised, before it sets off on its 300-day journey to Mars.
The October or November 2013 launch will place Mangalyaan into Earth orbit.
Six engine firings will raise that orbit to one with an apogee of 215,000 kilometers and a perigee of 600 kilometers.
On November 26, 2013, a final firing will send Mangalyaan onto an interplanetary trajectory.
Mars Orbit Insertion is planned for September 21, 2014.
The article concludes "An Isro official said the real challenge in the mission is that the engine has to restart after 300 days when the orbiter enters the Martian orbit." This is certainly true; it's a challenge that ISRO has yet to face, and it will definitely be a key moment in the mission. It's also a challenge that neither of the other two Asian space powers -- China and Japan -- have yet accomplished. Really, just arriving at Mars with an operational spacecraft would be a singular achievement; anything after that is gravy.