“National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA) and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) authorities of the US have reaffirmed support to our Mars Orbiter Mission spacecraft, scheduled for launch Oct 28,” the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said in a statement here.
The space agency’s clarification came in the wake of reports in a section of the media that the US government shutdown could affect the ground support of NASA for India’s maiden mission to the red planet, 400 million miles away.
“The launch window remains open till Nov 19. NASA and JPL will provide communications and navigation support from their deep space network facilities in the US,” ISRO’s scientific secretary V.S. Hegde said.
Incidentally, NASA is also scheduled to send its Maven (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission Nov 18.
The 1,340kg Indian spacecraft has been shipped Thursday to ISRO’s spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, off the Bay of Bengal coast, about 80 km northeast of Chennai.
The country’s tryst with the red planet will cost Rs.450 crore, including Rs.150 crore for the spacecraft, Rs.110 crore for the 350-tonne heavy rocket and Rs.190 crore to augment the ground stations for the mission’s operations.
The spacecraft will orbit around Marsfor six months at a distance of 375 km from its surface and 80,000km when away elliptically after a nine-month voyage to conduct various experiments with its five scientific instruments onboard.