India Becomes Fourth Nation With Mars Satellite

Mars Orbiter Mission on Wednesday makes India first nation to complete entry on first try, and first Asian nation to the Red Planet.

Ari Yashar,

Indian scientists celebrate Mars Orbiter
Indian scientists celebrate Mars Orbiter
Reuters

India on Wednesday became the first nation to successfully put a satellite in Mars' orbit, in the process becoming the first nation to succeed in its first attempt and the first Asian country to reach the planet.

The Indian Mars Orbiter Mission, known as the Mangalyaan, managed to complete the complicated maneuvers to enter orbit - those tricky maneuvers have caused around half of such missions to end in malfunctions or crashes, reports CNN.

"We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and human imagination," said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who watched the operation from the country's space center in Bangalore. "We have accurately navigated our spacecraft through a route known to a very few."

Ahead of India, only the US, Europe and Russia had successfully entered Mars' orbit.

"The odds were stacked against us," Modi said. "Of the 51 missions attempted so far, a mere 21 had succeeded. But we have prevailed."

The Mangalyaan also cost far less than other similar projects at a mere $74 million; NASA's MAVEN spacecraft that arrived on Mars earlier this week cost $671 million.

The mission is seen as a symbolic victory to India over China by becoming the first Asian nation to Mars, particularly since China has also recently been increasing its space program.

Both countries are part of a diplomatic push by Israel in recent months to expand ties with Asian countries, including India under its "pro-Israel" prime minister Modi, China, Japan, and most recently Vietnam.

The Indian spacecraft was launched last November 5, and made the more than 650 million kilometer (404 million miles) to map the surface of Mars and investigate the planet's atmosphere.

Some have noted that the orbiter at $74 million cost less than the $100 million Hollywood space suspense movie "Gravity."




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