The engines of the Indian Mars orbiter were tested for the first time on Monday morning. Speaking to TOI from Bangalore, Isro chief spokesperson Devi Prasad Karnik said the engine, known as the liquid apogee motor (LAM), was fired for about 670 seconds at Isro's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendra Giri in Tamil Nadu. "The test was successful and will go on for about 45 days," he said.
LAM plays a key role in orbit raising manoeuvres. The current mission profile of the mission envisages the orbiter operating in the earth-bound orbit six times as its altitude is raised, before it sets off on its 300-day journey to Mars.
In the final earth orbit, the orbiter's furthest point from earth will be 2,15,000 km and the nearest 600 km. It is expected to depart from the earth's orbit on November 26, 2013, and the crucial Mars orbit insertion will occur on September 21, 2014.
An Isro official said the real challenge in the mission is that the engine has to restart after 300 days when the orbiter enters the Martian orbit.