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India builds orbiter for Mars mission

"The spacecraft for our maiden Mars mission is ready for launch between Oct 21 and Nov 19 onboard a rocket with five instruments to conduct various experiments while orbiting the red planet after a nine-month voyage," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellite centre director S.K. Shivkumar told reporters at a preview of the orbiter here.

Mars orbiter
Scientists and engineers work on a Mars Orbiter vehicle at the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) satellite centre in Bangalore on September 11, 2013. The Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft will be launched by the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C25) between October 21 and November 19. Pic/AFP 

India's tryst with the red planet will cost the state-run ISRO Rs.4.5 billion, including Rs.1.5 billion for the spacecraft, Rs.1.1 billion for the rocket and Rs.1.9 billion to augment the ground stations for the mission's operations.

"The spacecraft has been built in a record 12 months to orbit around Mars for at least six months at a distance of 375 km from its surface and 80,000 km when away elliptically," Mars orbiter mission project director S. Arunan said.

After final configuration and testing, the 1,340 kg spacecraft (at lift-off) will be shipped to the spaceport Sep 27 for integrating it with the 350-tonne rocket, which is an extended version of the space agency's workhorse - the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL).

"The launch date and timing of lift-off will be decided during the one-month window, based on weather conditions and other critical parameters," Arunan said.
 

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