ISRO has put the Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft in Earth orbit today. This is a significant mission. If successful, India will be the fourth to reach Mars (Russia, NASA and ESA have had Mars missions). The lift off was at 1438 local time (0908 GMT). The spacecraft separation was achieved at T+45 minutes and the solar panels were successfully deployed at T+97 minutes.
The launch vehicle was a 4-stage PSLV-XL rocket with 6 boosters. Alternate stages (2nd and 4th) are liquid fueled. There was a 28 minute coasting phase between the 3rd and 4th stages, including a period of over 10 minutes of “radio silence” when the vehicle was out of communication with ground (actually ships placed along the launch trajectory up to New Zealand).
The full status of the launch can be seen here at spaceflightnow.com
Some interesting facts:
The mission cost about INR 4.5 billion (under USD 70 million). Compare that to the film Gravity, which cost over USD 100 million to make….
… or indeed to NASA’s MAVEN mission which is scheduled to take off later this month, and cost USD 485 million (about 7 times as expensive).
The craft will take close to 300 days and cover over 400 million kilometers on the way to the red planet. That is 1.3 million km per day at an average speed of over 55,000 kmph. The cost per kilometer is about INR 11 (18 US cents) – which is the equivalent of rickshaw fare.
The payload weighs only 15 kilograms in terms of scientific equipment compared to 1.35 tons for the spacecraft (over 800 kilos is just the fuel) and over 350 tons for the rocket. The scientific payload is 0.004% of the lift-off weight.