The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Tuesday dismissed talks of a political motive behind the country’s first Mars mission, scheduled for November 5, saying that “there is no such design in space”.
Speaking to PTI just a few days ahead of the launch, Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said, “critics can always say anything and nobody can stop but there is no such design in space. Space has definite time”.
The launch of the Mars Orbiter spacecraft is scheduled on November 5 at 2:36 pm (IST) onboard PSLV-C25 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.
“After you conceive a project, it takes time. They are not politically-motivated schedules,” Radhakrishnan added.
Radhakrishnan, also the secretary in the department of space and the Space Commission chairman, was responding to the perception by some critics that the November Mars Orbiter Mission is timed to suit the prospects of the ruling dispensation at the Centre in an election year, as the venture is bound to generate a “feel-good factor” and “self-pride”.
From 1962 when the space programme started, there have been milestones and they are not designed for any of the political regimes, he added.
The countdown for the Mars Orbiter Mission would start on Sunday with the ISRO gearing up for the country’s first inter-planetary venture, hailed as a shining star in India’s space programme.
He said the mission readiness review is slated for November 1, following which the launch authorisation board would give its green signal for the odyssey.
“At that time we will look at the entire performance and the rehearsal and then authorise the countdown,” Radhakrishnan added.
The MOM is a Rs. 450-crore mission -- Rs. 110 crore for building PSLV-C25 that would launch the Rs. 150 crore spacecraft, with the remaining amount spent on augmenting ground segment, including those required for deep space communication.
Once launched, the spacecraft would go around the earth for about 25 days before embarking on November 30 on its 300-day voyage to Martian orbit where it’s planned to reach in September 2014.
The minimum life of the spacecraft around Mars is six months but it would certainly outlive it, as similar satellites orbited by other countries have sometimes lasted six-seven years, Isro officials said.
Radhakrishnan also said that he did not want to be known as the Mars man though his predecessor G Madhavan Nair carried the tag in some quarters as the ‘Moon Man’ after the success of moon mission, Chandrayaan-1
“I would like to be known as Isro Man. It’s the Isro team which is doing it -- PSLV, GSLV, Mars everything. So, I would like to be a part of that Isro team,” he added.