MARINE vessel SCI Nalanda — the main ship to be stationed in Fiji and in the Pacific Ocean to monitor and collate data for India's first space mission to Mars — arrives in the country today.
In an interview, India's High Commissioner to Fiji Vinod Kumar said the MV SCI Nalanda was one of the two ships to be used to collect data of the rocket's journey to Mars after its launch in India at the end of this month.
Mr Kumar said for tracking launch of PSLV XL C25/Mars Orbiter Mission, SCI Nalanda is required to be located around 19 degrees South latitude and 160 degrees West longitude while SCI Yamuna (second ship) is required to be positioned 20 degrees South latitude and 130 degrees West longitude.
"These locations are more than 9000 nautical miles from India. For any ship to travel such a long distance at one shot is very difficult and impractical.
"In this scenario, strategic location of Fiji in the South Pacific Ocean comes to great help," he said.
Mr Kumar said Fiji's location would allow scientists from the International Space Research Station (ISRO) who are part of the mission to conduct all tests in Fiji and further sail for actual launch support on ship.
"Also, Suva port of Fiji serves as a source for topping up the essential commodities for ship and facilitating the refuelling of the ships to enable these ships to sail further."
Mr Kumar said Fiji's geographical location had also helped ISRO to plan its ground station networks for Mars Mission launch support in a highly optimised manner.
"Presently, teams of ISRO scientists and engineers are in Fiji to carry out final commissioning and testing of these TTC stations before both ships proceed to specified locations in the Pacific Ocean.
"ISRO engineers will be boarding these ships from Fiji and go to required locations for tracking the rocket during launch."
He said the stations on the ships would receive vital information of the functioning of all sub-systems of the rocket during launch and pass this information in near real time to launch control centre located in Shar, India.