Countdown for India's Mars Orbiter Mission starts Sunday

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Countdown for India's Mars Orbiter Mission starts Sunday
The final countdown for India's ambitious Rs.430-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) will begin Sunday morning, while the full launch rehearsal will be on Thursday, a top official of the Indian space agency said Wednesday.

"The countdown for the Mars Orbiter Mission will begin Sunday at 6.08 a.m," K. Radhakrishnan, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told reporters.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) rocket carrying the MOM will blast off at 2.38 p.m Nov 5 from Sriharikota around 80 km from Chennai.

The launch rehearsal of the rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C25) will begin Thursday and last over eight hours.

According to PSLV-C25 mission director P. Kunhikrishnan, during the launch rehearsal, except for pressing the ignition button, every other activity related to the rocket launch will be carried out.

Radhakrishnan reiterated that India is not in the space race with any other nation.

Queried about India's second mission to the moon, he said the space agency is awaiting funds clearance from the government to develop a lander, and a rover is being developed.

The moon lander might be ready and qualified by 2016, he said.

He said the moon mission will be on India's heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

After two successful GSLV missions, ISRO will be confident of going ahead with the moon mission on its heavier rocket, Radhakrishnan said.

Radhakrishnan said ISRO would fly GSLV rockets prior to the moon mission. According to him, the next GSLV mission with GSAT-14 satellite is slated for this December.

In July, ISRO called off its GSLV mission prior to the launch, due to some fuel leakage. The notable aspect of the mission is that the rocket is fitted with an ISRO-developed cryogenic engine.

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