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Mangalyaan leaves Earth's orbit for tryst with Red planet

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Mars Orbiter Mission Spacecraft. Photo: ISRO.

CHENNAI/BANGALORE (PTI): In a major milestone in India's space history, ISRO's Mars Orbiter mission today ventured out of Earth's sphere of influence, beginning its 300-day journey to the Red planet.

The critical manoeuvre to place the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft or 'Mangalyaan' in the Mars Transfer Trajectory was successfully carried out almost an hour past midnight and marked the first step it its 680 million-kilometre-long voyage to its destination.

"Following the completion of this manoeuvre, the Earth orbiting phase of the spacecraft ended. The spacecraft is now on a course to encounter Mars after a journey of about 10 months around the Sun," the Bangalore-headquartered Indian Space Research Organisation said in a statement.

During this manoeuvre, which began at 00:49 hours, the spacecraft's 440 Newton liquid engine was fired for about 22 minutes providing a velocity increment of 648 metres/second to the spacecraft.

ISRO performed the trans-Mars injection, a "crucial event" intended for hurling its Mars Orbiter spacecraft into the planned orbit around the Sun.

It has planned four mid-course corrections in case of any deviation along its path to the Martian orbit before its expected arrival in the orbit of the Red planet in September 2014.

It had performed five orbit-raising manoeuvres on its Mars Orbiter, raising the apogee (farthest point from Earth) of the spacecraft to over 1.92 lakh kilometres, before it performed the "mother of all slingshots."

The spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bangalore with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennae at Byalalu here, the space agency added.

ISRO's PSLV C 25 successfully injected the 1,350-kg 'Mangalyaan' Orbiter (Mars craft) into the orbit around the earth some 44 minutes after a text book launch at 2.38 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on November 5, marking the successful completion of the first stage of the Rs 450-crore mission.

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