India's Mars spacecraft encounters engine problems

Earlier this month we mentioned that India had launched a mission to send a spacecraft to Mars. India is attempting to become the fourth nation on earth to send a spacecraft to the red planet. Other countries have tried and failed to reach Mars. While India was able to successfully put its spacecraft in orbit, the mission has now hit a snag.

Reports indicate that the flow of liquid propellant in the engine of India's Mars orbiter was reduced preventing the spacecraft reaching the orbit desired. Mission planners at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) say that the mission is still in good health. A failure in the engine resulted when scientists and Indian tribe a fourth orbit correction this morning.

The goal is to raise the apogee of the spacecraft by a distance of 1 lakh km. The scientists needed to achieve a velocity of 130 meters per second, but were only able to attain 35 meters per second. The scientists say that the problem came when they attempted to use both the primary and redundant coils inside the rocket motor.

When both coils were engaged, flow to the liquid engine stopped. However, the spacecraft's thrust level augmentation logic operated as designed and continued using the altitude control clusters to increase the orbit of the spacecraft.

The ISRO said:

During the orbit-raising operations conducted since November 7, 2013, Isro has been testing and exercising the autonomy functions progressively. The prime and redundant star sensors have been functioning satisfactorily. The primary coil of the solenoid flow control valve was used successfully for the first three orbit-raising operations.

SOURCE: Times of India