Mars mission delayed by a week due to late ship: ISRO

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BANGALORE, October 19:  The launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission has been delayed, probably by a week, into early November.

The mission must wait until the main ship deployed to track launch events reaches the South Pacific, hopefully on Monday, ISRO’s spokesman said on Saturday.

Bad weather in the South Pacific has apparently delayed the ship, MV SCI Nalanda, from reaching Fiji on Saturday, while the other ship, Yamuna, is already there.

The two ships, deployed last month, carry tracking terminals and are a crucial link in relaying real-time data about the last stages of the launch and release of the spacecraft, which will happen over the South Pacific.

ISRO’s top officials will decide the launch date on October 22 when the ship is in Fiji, said Deviprasad Karnik, ISRO’s Director for Press & Public Relations. “The second ship Nalanda has been delayed by bad weather in the South Pacific. We expect it to reach there by October 21. Our decision should be made on October 22,” he said.

ISRO had hoped to send up the Mars spacecraft on October 28, the first day of its planned time band or ‘window’.

It can do the launch up to November 19; however the spacecraft must necessarily leave the Earth’s orbit on or before November 30 if it has to reach Mars in mid-September 2014. ISRO says the launch opportunity comes up once in 26 months.

Ahead of the launch from Sriharikota, the ships will be deployed at vantage points in the ocean some 3,000 nautical miles apart. The events will be monitored by ISRO’s engineers and telemetry and tracking team on board the ships.

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