India Postpones Launch of Mangalyaan to Mars – UPDATE

India Postpones Launch of Mangalyaan to Mars – UPDATE

UPDATE, October 22, 2013:   November 5 is the new launch date.  Launch time is 14:36 local time at the launch site in Sriharikota, India.

ORIGINAL STORY:   India is postponing the launch of its first mission to Mars because two ships outfitted with tracking equipment are not ready to support the mission.

The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, is India’s first interplanetary mission.   The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) decided to lease two ships, Nalanda and Yamuna, outfit them with tracking equipment, and deploy them to the Pacific Ocean so they can monitor ignition of the PSLV rocket’s fourth stage and spacecraft separation.  Those events will occur outside the range of India’s usual tracking facilities.

Several Indian press accounts say the launch delay is because the Nalanda did not reach Figi on time due to bad weather.   However, the Deccan Chronicle reports that the actual problem is with the tracking equipment on at least one of the ships and ISRO engineers need to check it before the ships leave Figi for their operational locations.

A new launch date will be announced on Tuesday, but the delay is expected to be about a week.   Launch had been scheduled for October 28.  The launch window is open until November 19.

The goals of the mission are primarily technological — to prove that India can launch a probe and insert it into a Martian orbit — but it carries five scientific instruments, one of which will search for methane in the Martian atmosphere.

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