The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists will briefly lose contact with the PSLV C-25 before its signals are picked up by the communication ships in the South Pacific Ocean. The launch vehicle, which will be carrying India’s first interplanetary orbiter to Mars, is set to take off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, on November 5. The silent period is likely to be closer to 20 minutes though the ISRO chairman estimated it at a more modest 10 minutes.
ISRO has ground stations at Sriharikota, Port Blair, Brunei and Biak to keep track of the satellite. However, as the path of this spacecraft is well beyond anything ISRO has launched before, it is beyond the scope of the Biak station. This is why they have deployed two ships to the Pacific to track the spaceship, “This mission is beyond the range of the Biak station and we will be losing signal for about 10 minutes and propagating the transmission till it is picked up by the ships,” said ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan.
However, officials at the Mission Control Centre at SDSC let on that the ‘quiet’ period will be between 15-20 minutes, “We will not be able to see the pitch, yaw and roll, corrections that the ship is making for that time. We will extrapolate its trajectory and hope that the on-board computer makes the corrections,” said the official. The data will be logged and downloaded to ISRO’s servers as soon as the ship’s receivers pick up the telemetry signals.
The launch date was deferred from October 28 to November 5, because the ship-borne communication vessels Nalanda and Yamuna were delayed by choppy weather in the South Pacific seas.
The crucial stages of the fourth stage propulsion, the burnout, the separation of the satellite and the deployment of the solar panels will be observed by the ship’s observation systems and transmitted to ISRO.