India’s maiden Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been extended for another six months to further explore the Red Planet and its atmosphere, said a senior official on Tuesday.
“As the 1,340 kg Mars Orbiter has sufficient fuel (37 kg) to last longer than it was intended earlier, its mission has been extended for another six months,” the senior official of the Indian space agency said.
The Mars Mission was launched on November 5, 2013 on board a polar rocket from spaceport Sriharikota off Bay of Bengal, about 80 km of Chennai with a budget of Rs.450-crore ($70 million).
“The five scientific instruments onboard the spacecraft (Orbiter) will continue to collect data and relay it to our deep space network centre here for analysis,” state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director Devi Prasad Karnik said.
Orbiter takes 3.2 Earth days or 72 hours, 51 minutes and 51 seconds to go round Mars once while orbiting at a distance of 500 km nearest and over 80,000 km farthest from its red surface.
The Indian space agency will fly two small defence satellites in July/August on its new rocket –now known as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) – said a top official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
“We are planning to fly two defence satellites, each weighing about 120 kg in our new rocket SSLV this July or August. The rocket design recently underwent a detailed integrated technical review,” K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman, told IANS on Wednesday.
He said the total weight of the payload that will be carried by the SSLV on its maiden flight will be about 500 kg. While the two satellites would weight about 120 kg each, there will be adaptors and others that would weigh about 300 kg.
The total weight of the rocket will be 110 tonne, Sivan said.
Queried about the need for a second commercial arm – first one is Antrix Corporation – Sivan said: “We want to give a big push for production of SSLV. We expect the demand for SSLV to be about two/three rockets per month. We also want to increase the production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).”
Sivan said the increase in production is sought to be achieved partnering with the private sector.
He said Antrix Corporation is mainly into transponder leasing and other activities.
On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for setting up of a new company under the Department of Space (DoS), to commercially exploit the research and development work carried out by ISRO and its constituent units.
The following areas/avenues provide opportunities for commercial exploitation of ISRO programmes:
Small satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein the new company shall take licence from DoS/ISRO and sub-license to industries; manufacture of small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with the private sector.
Besides, productionisation of PSLV through industry; productionisation and marketing of space-based products and services, including launch and applications; transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DoS.
Also marketing of some spin-off technologies and products, both in India and abroad; and any other subject which Government of India deems fit.