The Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) maiden mission to Mars which was scheduled to be launched on October 28 has been delayed.
ISRO has planned to launch an Orbiter around Mars to study the planet's surface, morphology, mineralogy and the atmosphere.
The ship-borne communication instruments, which were to track the launch of the Orbiter, are yet to reach the South Pacific Ocean leading to the delay in the mission. Two ships, SCI Yamuna and SCI Nalanda, are carrying the instruments that study the crucial period when the rocket ejects the spacecraft into space. While SCI Nalanda has reached Fiji, where the ships are to be positioned to track and relay real-time data of the launch, the SCI Yamuna has been delayed due to inclement weather conditions in the ocean.
These ships will be deployed at vantage points in the ocean, about 3,000 nautical miles apart to track the launch. They had left from Visakhapatnam in mid-September.
"The mission must wait until the main ship deployed to track launch event reaches the South Pacific, hopefully on October 21," the ISRO spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Hindu. He added that the decision on an alternate date will be made only then.
ISRO can launch the Orbiter to Mars only during the launch windown, which is between 28 October and 19 November. A delay beyond this period will put-off the mission by at least two years.
The Orbiter will carry five scientific instruments on board. While the Indian Deep Space Network (DSN) in Bangalore will track the Orbiter and help in navigation, NASA's DSN will provide support services during the non-visible period of the Indian DSN.
The ₹450-crore mission is a technology demonstrator that will help ISRO develop technologies required for designing, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. The scientific objective of the mission is to explore the Martian surface, morphology, mineralogy and atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
The Orbiter to Mars will be launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, through a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle where ISRO has set up several support facilities for the launch of its satellites.