With the New Year upon us, what can we look forward to in 2014? For me, the main event of 2014 is that ESA's Rosetta mission finally -- finally! -- catches up to the comet it has been chasing for a decade. We will lose LADEE, gain two Mars orbiters, and launch Hayabusa2. The year begins with an amazing 24 spacecraft exploring or cruising toward various planetary destinations.
Today I am delighted to welcome India into the ranks of interplanetary travelers: Mars Orbiter Mission has successfully propelled itself onto an interplanetary trajectory, departing Earth forever and setting sail for Mars. Congratulations to India, to the Indian Space Research Organisation, to the mission's scientists and engineers, and to the people of India.
Today is the day when India's Mars Orbiter Mission will fire its rocket to depart Earth and begin its 300-day journey to Mars. The rocket burn begins on December 1 at 00:49 IST (today at 19:19 UT / 11:19 PT).
Two spacecraft launched for Mars this month: Mars Orbiter Mission on November 5, and MAVEN on November 18. MAVEN is now on an interplanetary trajectory, while Mars Orbiter Mission is still in Earth orbit and will not depart for Mars until the end of the month. A lot of people are asking me: why the difference? Here's your answer, with input from Dave Doody.
Yesterday, the Mars Orbiter Mission was commanded to perform a rocket burn that would have raised the apogee of its orbit around Earth. The spacecraft began its burn, but underperformed. ISRO has planned a supplemental burn for November 12 at 05:00 IST (today at 15:30 PT / 23:30 UT) in order to make up the deficit.
The Mars Orbiter Mission completed its first, second, and third of six planned maneuvers in Earth orbit successfully last week. However, the fourth maneuver, conducted on Sunday at 12:36 PST / 20:36 UTC / Monday 02:06 IST, failed to lift the apogee of the orbit as high as planned.
When the Mars Orbiter Mission launched yesterday, it launched into Earth orbit. The Mars Orbiter Mission must perform several rocket burns in order to increase its orbital altitude before departing for Mars. The first burn was completed successfully just minutes ago.
The PSLV carrying ISRO's Mars Orbiter mission shot like a firework off the launch pad today, placing the spacecraft precisely into its planned elliptical orbit of Earth. Now the 10-month cruise phase begins. Congratulations to ISRO!