India’s moon mission countdown continues in heavy rain

October 21st, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROChennai, Oct 21 (IANS) It was raining heavily at India’s spaceport Sriharikota Tuesday morning as scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) continued their countdown for the launch of the country’s first mission to the moon.Though the ISRO scientists have said only a cyclone would put off their scheduled launch, there were signs of anxiety about the weather, even as the countdown proceeded smoothly.

“The filling of liquid propellant in the fourth stage, charging gas bottles and pressurising them got over at 2 a.m. today (Tuesday). Next major activity is the filling up of the second stage with liquid propellant,” M.Y.S. Prasad, associate director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre told IANS from Sriharikota, off the Andhra Pradesh coast and about 80 km from here.

The 40-tonne fuel-filling activity will start at 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon and is scheduled to be completed by 10 p.m.

Speaking about the weather, he said: “It is not what we want. Nevertheless the launch activities are progressing as scheduled.”

The 44-metre-tall, 316-tonne Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV C11) was standing at ISRO’s second launch pad Tuesday.

At 6.22 a.m. Wednesday, the rocket is scheduled to blast off the spaceport, carrying aloft India’s first lunar orbiter Chandrayaan.

The PSLV will sling the 1,380-kg spacecraft into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO) at 255-km perigee (nearest point to earth) and 23,000-km apogee (farthest point from earth).

The slinging into the orbit is expected to happen 18 minutes into its flight Wednesday.

From there the spacecraft will be taken into more elliptical orbits firing its onboard motors - technically called Liquid Apogee Motors (LAM) - towards the moon, 387,000 km from earth.

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