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Headshot of Emily Lakdawalla

A picture-perfect launch for ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

05-11-2013 4:11 CST

Topics: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status, rockets

It was well worth staying up late to watch the PSLV carrying the Mars Orbiter Mission soar off its launch pad today. All four stages of the launch vehicle performed right to expectations, placing the spacecraft into an elliptical orbit of Earth with a perigee of 246.9 kilometers and an apogee of 23,566 kilometers, extremely close to the predicted orbit. I was taken aback by how quickly the rocket shot into the air. I made an animated gif of screen caps:

Mars Orbiter Mission PSLV launch animation

ISRO / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Mars Orbiter Mission PSLV launch animation
Screen caps from ISRO's broadcast taken about once per second and played back at the same speed. Launch took place at 14:38 IST (09:08 UTC) on November 5, 2013.

Here's a nice video of the launch -- I would have embedded it but I couldn't figure out how to prevent it from autoplaying.

The challenges for ISRO are not over -- they have only begun. They have not left Earth yet. The spacecraft will now perform 7 orbits of Earth over the next 4 weeks, with rocket burns at each perigee to increase the height of the orbit, before departing for a 300-day cruise to Mars. I'll keep you posted as the mission continues.

And now, I'm going to bed! Congratulations to ISRO!!

OK, after a few hours' sleep, here's some lovely photos ISRO posted overnight from the launch:

Mars Orbiter Mission launches


Mars Orbiter Mission launches
India's Mars Orbiter Mission launched successfully from Satish Dhawan Space Center on November 5, 2013 at 14:38 IST (9:08 UTC).
Mars Orbiter Mission launch (wide view of Satish Dhawan Space Centre)


Mars Orbiter Mission launch (wide view of Satish Dhawan Space Centre)
India's Mars Orbiter Mission launched successfully from Satish Dhawan Space Center on November 5, 2013 at 14:38 IST (9:08 UTC).
Mars Orbiter Mission launch (vertical)


Mars Orbiter Mission launch (vertical)
See other posts from November 2013


Or read more blog entries about: Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), mission status, rockets


Deoy: 11/05/2013 05:00 CST

Successful First Phase Launch of MOM. ISRO Chairman, Dr. K Radhakrishnan, declaring the launch a success: Video :

Deoy: 11/05/2013 05:04 CST

Kindly explain the difference in trajectory path followed by NASA's MAVEN in comparison with ISRO's MOM. Which one reach Mars first

John Burch: 11/05/2013 07:21 CST

Its not so much the trajectory that defines the arrival time but the launch vehicle. MAVEN is launching on the huge big stonking (technical term) Atlas V that propels it directly towards Mars . Poor MOM is launched by the puny PSLV and has go through several convoluted orbital manoeuvres before heading off to Mars.

Louis Friedman: 11/05/2013 07:44 CST

Very exciting - congratulations to India and all involved. Mars beckons and getting more countries involved will lead inevitably to robotic Mars sample return and human exploration.

John Burch: 11/05/2013 08:23 CST

Yes, congratulations to India and I bet every Indian, rich and poor, is feeling a little taller today. Its fantastic that space exploration is still viewed as the technological mettle of a country and as the world's economy expands, barring the odd hiccup, more and more countries are getting in on the act. That robotic exploration of Mars now seems the future for these new explorers is pure icing on the cake.

Surya: 11/05/2013 10:45 CST

ISRO's MOM will be inserted into Mars orbit on 24-09-2014 and MAVEN will be inserted into mars orbit two days ahead, 22-09-2014, if launched on predetermined launch window.

Almir Germano: 11/05/2013 12:45 CST

Well, maybe not a very bright comment, but, was that whole lot of stuff falling from the rocket just condensation ice? Big plaques, isn't it?

Prasad Sundararajan: 11/05/2013 06:04 CST

Congratulations to ISRO ! God Speed, Mangalyaan to the Red Planet. My presentation on the mission at AIAA SPACE 2013:

Shailendra Malik: 11/05/2013 06:38 CST

@Almir, The condensation ice gets cleaned up in first 5 seconds. The pieces you saw are the attachment cables and collapsible service platform which gets detached in early lift off. It looks scary but it is a standard procedure for all PSLV launches. You may find this consistent with other PSLV launches like this C-20 launch:

Edgar J. Kaiser: 11/06/2013 05:30 CST

I am monitoring MOM's S-Band downlink on 2292.96 MHz and 2298.48 MHz. Doppler is in very good agreement with TLE NORAD number 39370. Congratulations India and ISRO!

Govind: 11/06/2013 02:23 CST

thanks Emily, great launch & prefect story.

Ganesh sapte: 11/07/2013 02:20 CST

Thats the difference between indian Engineering and others because ISRO have made it possible in just 18 months despite its first attempt mars,Where MAVEN consumed more than 5 years to come up..

Bob Ware: 11/08/2013 07:17 CST


Sridhar: 11/14/2013 11:39 CST

Thanks for the great coverage of this mission, Emily. Ganesh: let's not compare the MAVEN and MOM missions. They have different objectives, different levels of complexity and were built in different environments. It is wonderful that ISRO has undertaken this mission, and given its overall objective of contributing to improving the lives of ordinary people (and the bulk of its missions are focused on that), at a reasonable and justifiable cost. I first started avidly following ISRO as a young kid in the mid 80s, with the two failed ASLV missions followed up in the 90s by the series of successes (and some failures) that the organization notched up. It is great to see the organization maturing to the stage that it can launch missions to the Moon and now even Mars. Looking forward to its next big mission - the test launch of the GSLV in December using an Indian designed and built cryogenic upper stage.

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