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India creates history, maiden Mars mission successful
September 24, 2014, 4:48 am

A Panoramic View of the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO during the Trans Mars Injection Manoeuvre [Image: ISRO]

A Panoramic View of the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft Control Centre at ISRO during the Trans Mars Injection Manoeuvre [Image: ISRO]

India’s maiden mission to Mars, the Mangalyaan, or Mars Orbiter Mission successfully entered the red planet’s orbit on Wednesday morning.

Scientists from the Indian Space and Research Organisation fired the spacecraft’s main liquid engine to align it to Mars’ orbit. India’s space agency, ISRO has an annual budget of $1.1 billion, one-seventeenth of its US counterpart NASA’s.

“We congratulate ISRO for its Mars arrival! @MarsOrbiter joins the missions studying the Red Planet,” tweeted NASA on Wednesday. NASA’s latest Mars mission cost $671 million.

India has now become the first country to succeed on its first Mars mission, with a record-low budget of $74 million, and also the first in Asia to reach Mars. Mangalyaan aims to explore Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and search for methane in the Martian atmosphere using indigenous scientific instruments.

The success of the mission to Mars will “inspire our scientists to make even greater strides”, said Indian President Pranab Mukherjee who described it as a “historic achievement”.

India also joined an elite club of Martian explorers that includes the US, European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union, eyeing a bigger slice of the $300 billion global space market.

India had launched the Mars Orbiter Mission, the country’s first interplanetary foray, on 5 November, 2013.

With the success of the Mars mission, India cements its place among the top six space-faring nations in technological capabilities, with the US, Russia, China, France and Japan.

Though India’s Mars mission has cost a fraction of its foreign equivalents, critics have said a developing economy like India’s can not afford to launch space missions while its struggles to feed its poor.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that space missions like these have aided in India’s economic success through satellites which monitor weather and water resources, or enable communication in remote parts of the country.

Twitter was abuzz with reactions on Wednesday morning.

“India’s Mars mission cost $74 million. This implies a MMPPP (Mars mission purchasing power parity)–a bit like the Big Mac index–of 9.1.” tweeted Kaushik Basu, Chief Economist of the World Bank.

“From @isro comes the proof that Made in India is still the best label in the world,” said senior Indian journalist Barkha Dutt.

India launched its first space programme in 1962. The country is now looking at landing a wheeled rover on the moon in 2014.

TBP and Agencies 

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