Emily LakdawallaNov 05, 2013

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

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
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. ISRO / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

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). ISRO
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). ISRO
Mars Orbiter Mission launch (vertical)
Mars Orbiter Mission launch (vertical) ISRO

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