India’s maiden mission to Mars — Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), the Mangalyaan (it literally means Mars-craft), creates history by successfully entering the orbit of the red planet after a 300-day marathon covering over 670 million km this morning (7:17 am IST). India now joins the elite Martian club that comprises the US, Russia and the European Space Agency.
India becomes the first country to successfully get a spacecraft into the Martian orbit on its maiden attempt. Since 1960, there have been 51 global missions to Mars and the overall success rate stands at 42% — only 21 were successful. Both Russia and the US failed in their maiden attempts. The first Chinese mission to Mars, called Yinghuo-1, failed in 2011 alongside the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission with which it was launched. Earlier in 1998, the Japanese mission to Mars ran out of fuel and was lost.
Mangalyaan is an indigenously made unmanned robotic mission weighing 1,350 kg, including 850 kg of fuel and oxidizer, was launched from the rocket port at Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal on 5 November last year. MOM was developed with homegrown technology.
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is known for its frugal high technology abilities. At approximately Rs 450 crore or around $75 million, the cost of the mission was just one-ninth of the $670 million NASA spent on its Maven explorer. European space agency’s 2003 Mars express orbiter had cost about $386 million. This works out to less than Rs 7 per km for the Indian journey to Mars. That is cheaper than an auto ride in Delhi, which is Rs 8 per km!
It’s a proud moment for all of us. Heartiest congratulations to ISRO scientists! I salute their tireless efforts, and dedications that made it a success. Jai Hind!