With less than 48 hours left before the spacecraft enters Mars’ orbit, scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have successfully test-fired its liquid engine.Before the test-firing, Annadurai, programme director at Isro, told Hindustan Times: "The test firing is like a trial. The dormant engine has to be brought back to life. It is a challenge but if one is prepared well for the exam, the confidence for success is higher."
The nail-biting prelim was carried out at 2:30pm when the craft’s 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor engine, which has been idle for 300 days, was fired up for four seconds. The fourth and final trajectory corrections were also made.
“The engine will be fired for nearly 4 seconds and almost half a kg of fuel will be needed for this operation,” says Koteshwar Rao, scientific secretary, Isro before the test-firing
On September 24 it will be put in action along with eight thrusters to slow down Mangalyaan so it can be injected into a safe orbit around the Red Planet.
Isro launched the Mangalyaan on November 5 to find evidence of life on Mars. If the spacecraft makes it, India will be the fourth after US, Russia and Europe to reach the Red planet. Once in orbit, the craft’s five payloads will take pictures and collect data for the next six months.Probes to Mars have a high failure rate. Of the 51 missions so far, only 21 have succeeded. A similar mission by China failed in 2011.