India's Mars Orbiter Mission Successfully Fires Rockets - Next Stop Mars!
India's space program continues to have good fortune. Today their Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully fired its liquid rocket engine for 23-minutes to propel the spacecraft from its existing earth orbit on the path of a Trans-Mars Injection (TMI). This next step of the journey will take nearly 11 months to complete.
India launched the Mars Orbiter Mission in early November atop the PSLV-25 rocket. A minor problem in raising the altitude and speed of the orbit was corrected early on - all paving the way for the critical engine burn today.
Today's engine burn is the most critical step for a successful mission. India will join an elite group that has reached Mars, including the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency. Both Japan and China have had failed in attempts to reach the red planet, and no country has made it on its first attempt.
The final step of the mission will come on September 24, 2014 when the orbiter transitions to an orbit around Mars, a process called Mars Orbit Insertion (MOI).
The normally quiet road to Mars will have company, as NASAs MAVEN Mars mission will follow shortly behind India's spacecraft.
Images courtesy Indian Space Research Organization.