Mars Orbiter Mission aka Mangalyaan, successfully made into the Mars orbit! Kudos to all people who streamlined this project!
The spacecraft has been unofficially called since as Mangalyaan (मंगलयान). The term Mangalyaan is actually referred as ‘Mars Vehicle’. Mangal (मंगल) means Mars and Yaan (यान) means Vehicle.
With the success of Mars mission, India became the first country in Asia and also the first country ever in the world to place a spacecraft into Mars orbit in its very first attempt. That’s a huge record breaking success. Along with it, ISRO became the fourth space agency to reach Mars, after the Soviet space program, NASA, and the European Space Agency. Also to noted that our mission is the cheapest Mars mission compared to other successful and failed global missions. No space for poverty vs. scientific achievements here.
At approximately Rs 450 crore or around $75 million, the cost of the mission was only about one-tenth of the $670 million Nasa spent on its Maven explorer.
European space agency’s 2003 Mars express orbiter had cost about $386 million. Another exploration mission by Japanese, which failed to enter the Red Planet’s orbit, had cost more than double than that of Mangalyaan. Russia’s Phobos-Grunt which failed to leave the earth’s orbit cost about $117 million.
India has been particularly proud that MOM was developed with homegrown technology.
Many, however, say this bid to reach Mars is a “delusional dream” of India seeking super-power status since 400 million Indians still live without electricity and 600 million people still do not have access to toilets.
However, in real terms, the Mangalyaan has cost India just about four rupees (seven cents; four pence) per person – which is chicken feed for a country of 1.2 billion people.
Though India says its Mars mission is the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to have been undertaken in half a century of space exploration, some are questioning its scientific purpose.
“This is a highly suboptimal mission with limited scientific objectives,” says D Raghunandan of Delhi Science Forum, a think tank.
Others like economist-activist Jean Dreze have said the mission “seems to be part of the Indian elite’s delusional quest for superpower status”.
Rejecting such talk, a top government official says: “We have heard these arguments since the 1960s, about India being a poor country not needing or affording a space programme.
“If we can’t dare to dream big it would leave us as hewers of wood and drawers of water! India is today too big to be just living on the fringes of high technology.”
We had a few technical challenges though. The hardest one was the use of PSLV to launch the spacecraft instead of GSLV. PSLV is a Polar launch vehicle and GSLV is Geo-Stationary launch vehicle. Technically, Polar launch vehicles are not designed to launch interplanetary space missions. The world uses Geo-Stationary launch vehicles for that purpose. But the real hard nut was the trust bit. PSLV has proven its worthiness in many successful missions, while GSLV had a very few successful missions.
Because of the use of PSLV, we had to take few series of orbit raising maneuvers instead of placing the spacecraft directly into Trans-Martian Trajectory (direct injection). That’s the reason why NASA’s MAVEN reached Mars first even though it was launched some days after the launch of Mangalyaan. But many are largely ignorant about this fact and they use this information to criticize the side-step of India’s first inter-planetary mission. Sad!
But hey, that’s ok. After all, we did reached Mars in our first attempt, didn’t we? 😉One suggestion to ISRO
Almost all NASA materials are in the public domain. NASA materials are not protected by copyright unless noted! Refer: http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/policies.html#Guidelines
I would suggest adapting the same policy for ISRO too. That’s one area where ISRO still lacks. Refer: http://www.isro.org/scripts/termsofuse.aspx
If ISRO officials are reading this article, please consider my suggestion to remove the copyrights.
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Corrections and suggestions to this article are most welcome.
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