World Space Week (4-10 October) Part 5
India's first venture into the interplanetary space, MOM will explore and observe Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and the Martian atmosphere. Further, a specific search for methane in the Martian atmosphere will provide information about the possibility or the past existence of life on the planet.
The enormous distances involved in interplanetary missions present a demanding challenge; developing and mastering the technologies essential for these missions will open endless possibilities for space exploration. After leaving Earth, the Orbiter will have to endure the Interplanetary space for 300 days before Mars capture. Apart from deep space communications and navigation-guidance-control capabilities, the mission will require autonomy at the spacecraft end to handle contingencies.
One of the main objectives of the first Indian mission to Mars is to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. Following are the major objectives of the mission:
• Design and realisation of a Mars orbiter with a capability to survive and perform Earth bound manoeuvres, cruise phase of 300 days, Mars orbit insertion / capture, and on-orbit phase around Mars.
• Deep space communication, navigation, mission planning and management.
• Incorporate autonomous features to handle contingency situations.
• Exploration of Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
PSLV-C25, twenty fifth flight of PSLV launched Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. The challenging PSLV-C25 mission was optimised for the launch of Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft into a highly elliptical Earth orbit with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 250 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 23,500 km with an inclination of 19.2 degree with respect to the equator.
Mars Orbiter Mission is India's first interplanetary mission to planet Mars with an orbiter craft designed to orbit Mars in an elliptical orbit. The Mission is primarily technological mission considering the critical mission operations and stringent requirements on propulsion and other bus systems of spacecraft. It has been configured to carry out observation of physical features of mars and carry out limited study of Martian atmosphere with following five payloads:
1. Mars Colour Camera (MCC)
2. Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS)
3. Methane Sensor for Mars (MSM)
4. Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA)
5. Lyman Alpha Photometer (LAP)
The successful execution of the MoM has made India the fourth nation in the world to do so, after the U.S. - National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), European consortium - European Space Agency (ESA), and Russia - Roscosmos had led their respective missions. Until its launch, only 21 of the 51 missions by various countries had been successful. Russia's last mission carrying a Chinese satellite had failed in November 2011. Thus, there was a great excitement to see India become the first Asian nation to achieve this feat.The near 45-meter rocket PSLV-C25 carrying the 1,350 kg satellite was mounted on the pedestal and kept in a state of readiness (in a record 15 months) to blast off. The movements were tracked by vehicle tracking stations at Port Blair and Byalalu near Bengaluru and an outstation at Brunei. The terminals-on-sea lodged aboard the ships SCI Nalanda and SCI Yamuna, belonging to the Shipping Corporation of India helped to track and capture the precise moments of satellite injection into the earth's orbit. This process took approximately 40 minutes.Thereafter, the satellite went around the earth for 20-25 days before making an exit for Mars on a nine-month journey. Five important scientific instruments such as photometer, methane sensor, mars composition analyser, and others were in place in the payload along with the satellite. These were meant to help navigate, monitor and capture information on Mars temperature, surface, colour composition, water loss, methane composition, etc.As per ISRO, the main objective of the MoM was technological in nature - that is, to develop the technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of the interplanetary mission. NASA coordinated and provided support for its communication requirements.This satellite thus became a part of the bouquet of India's operational satellites, which account for the largest network globally. About 500-1.000 scientists worked and checked out the overall specifics of the mission.
According to the NSS, India's Mars Orbiter programme achieved two milestones, first being the foremost Indian spacecraft to have gone into Mars orbit in its initial attempt, which no other country has done before. Secondly, the spacecraft, with a high resolution camera was able to click full-disk colour images of Mars -- a rare feat, indeed. Also, the spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit with a high apoapsis.The Mars Orbiter Spacecraft was launched on 5 November 2013 and it went into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014. Mylswamy Annadurai heads the Mars Orbiter programme team located in Bengaluru. The U.S. based National Space Society (NSS), an independent non-profit educational membership organisation, has conferred 2015 Space Pioneer Award in the science and engineering category to India's Mars Orbiter programme team, as per the NSS society. In a statement issued by it in Washington on Monday, 12 January 2015, it said, "This award will be presented to an ISRO representative during the National Space Society's 2015 International Space Development Conference, the 34th ISDC, to be held in Toronto, Canada". The conference is scheduled for May 20-24.
When Daring venture created History
India's first mission to the Red Planet, Mangalyaan, successfully finished its first mid-course correction on 11 December 2013 at 6:30 in the morning. "The mid-course correction was done some 2.9 million km away from Earth. The spacecraft was first re-oriented and then its smaller rockets fired to make the operation successful", an official of the ISRO had quoted.After traversing an uncharted territory of Mars orbit, the spacecraft - Mangalyaan - has become the first Indian spacecraft to travel so far. The ISRO successfully accomplished this prestigious project, when the spacecraft was at a distance of 2.9 million km from Earth. The projected date for the spacecraft to enter into Mars orbit was 24 September 2014. India's Mars Orbiter Mission achieved historic success as its spacecraft Mangalyaan entered the orbit of the red planet at about 8 am on 24 September 2014. As the aircraft entered the orbit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also present at the ISRO centre in Bengaluru to witness the historical achievement of India. The Prime Minister congratulated the scientists saying that India had gone beyond the boundaries of human imagination. The NASA also congratulated the ISRO for the successful completion of its mission. The Mars mission was achieved in 15 months only, with a cost of Rs 450 crore. It was the most economical inter-planetary mission to be undertaken in the world ever.
REUSABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE
The Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully launched a Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator mission. The flight began at 07:00 Indian Standard Time on 23 May (01:30 UTC), resulting in a successful launch for the winged, reusable space plane that conducted a suborbital mission to gather in-flight data.
Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program or RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle. A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.These technologies will be developed in phases through a series of experimental flights. The first in the series of experimental flights is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX) followed by the landing experiment (LEX), return flight experiment (REX) and scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX). Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator Hypersonic Experiment (RLV-TD HEX1) wherein the hypersonic aero-thermo dynamic characterization of winged re-entry body along with autonomous mission management to land at a specified location and characterization of hot structures are planned to be demonstrated. The cost of access to space is the major deterrent in space exploration and space utilization. A reusable launch vehicle is the unanimous solution to achieve low cost, reliable and on-demand space access.
Objective : A reusable launch vehicle can bring down launch costs, by ISRO’s own admission by up to 10x, but the overall cost of operationalising and maintaining such a vehicle is much higher than what the PSLV and GSLV missions each cost. The payload capacity of the RLV that will ultimately get built is unknown – let’s assume it will be able to lift 10,000-20,000 kg to the low-Earth orbit (LEO). The NASA Space Shuttle orbiter vehicle, to which ISRO’s RLV has often been compared, could lift 27,500 kg to the LEO but required two solid-fuel boosters and three cryogenic engines affixed to the orbiter vehicle and fed by the 760,000-tonne external tank (when filled with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen). Further, NASA was able to recover the two boosters as well as achieve a significant reduction in the tank’s weight, from 35,000 kg to 27,000 kg, in 17 years. Since it is known that ISRO’s final RLV will be assisted by five semi-cryogenic engines, the organisation will have to constantly find ways to increase material efficiency across missions, to truly benefit from the programme.
ISRO has developed a four flight test sequence that will incrementally test the various flight characteristics its under-development Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) will experience during flight as well as the scramjet propulsion engines the RLV is planned to use.This four flight test sequence includes the Hypersonic Flight Experiment (HEX), the Landing Experiment (LEX), the Return Flight Experiment (REX), and the Scramjet Propulsion Experiment (SPEX). The mission that launched was HEX, the first test in the four-flight sequence.The HEX mission used a scaled prototype, called the Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), of the RLV design.In total, the RLV-TD is a 1.75 ton, 6.5 meter long vehicle that is able to achieve an altitude of approximately 70 kilometers. The RLV-TD was mounted atop a 1 meter in diameter, 9 ton solid booster (HS9) and launched from the first launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, previously known as the Sriharikota High Altitude Range, in southeastern India. n March-April 2015, ISRO highlighted the work over the previous year toward RLV-TD, which included studies of 3D heat flux and shear distribution of heat over the test vehicle, software validations, uplink trials of telemetry packages with satellites, and actuator design, fabrication, and acceptance testing.Moreover, the HS9 solid rocket motor’s Secondary Injection Thrust Vector Control System was tested successfully. By April 2015, ISRO stated that the HS9 solid booster was at Satish Dhawan Space Centre and that flight of the HEX mission was on track to occur before July 1, 2015.However, by mid-May 2015, launch had slipped to the second half of 2015, and vehicle integration was still 8-10 weeks away.This delay was directly linked to ISRO’s decision to prioritize its commercial launches ahead of HEX.The mission then slipped to early 2016 before settling in May 2016 after a leak was found before final ground testing on the RLV-TD.The HEX vehicle arrived at the launch site in late-April and was integrated to its HS9 booster without publicized issue.A Mission Readiness Review was conducted on May 11 and cleared the RLV-TD and booster for launch.