‘Outstanding’ secret behind Mangalyaan’s success

MUMBAI(Web Team): Here’s a secret behind the success of India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) that only two people — and not even the Prime Minister — knew.

During every critical manoeuvre of the spacecraft, mission director S Arunan would slip out of the control room and stand in silence. The only other person who knew this routine was then Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan. “Call it superstition, but I believe that it brought us luck,” Arunan told Reporters.

His absence hardly mattered, for he had already ensured that the spacecraft was pre-fed commands for the manoeuvres. “The telemetry commands to the spacecraft are given several hours before it executes them, and at the real time of MOM carrying out the manoeuvres we are just sitting and watching,” he said. “And I didn’t want to watch.”

This he diligently followed during the six orbit-raising manoeuvres and three trajectory corrections of MOM. Arunan faced the biggest challenge when PM Narendra Modi visited the mission control room in Bengaluru to witness the spacecraft’s injection into the Mars orbit. The PM’s security had insisted there would be no movement of people at the centre before Modi arrived and till he left.