Mission successful. India’s Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan, has entered the Red Planet’s orbit in a historic moment for the country’s space programme.
This morning the Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO successfully ignited the main 440 Newton liquid engine and eight small thrusters that fired for 24 minutes and trimmed the speed of the craft to allow smooth orbit insertion under Mars’ shadow.
Two hours later, Mangalyaan transmitted the first pictures from Mars.
In the morning, among an audience made up largely of excited scientists at ISRO’s command centre in Bangalore was Prime MinisterNarendra Modi. He had reached there early to cheer the Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM and looked tense during the final moments.
But as celebrations began after delayed communication signals – it takes 12.5 minutes for signals to travel from the orbiter to Earth – confirmed the spacecraft had entered the Mars orbit, Mr Modi broke into a big smile and clapped his way to the rostrum, where he said, “The moment this mission was named MOM, I knew it would not disappoint. Moms never fail… We dared to reach out to the unknown.”
“History has been created today. We have achieved the near impossible. I congratulate all ISRO scientists and all my fellow Indians on this historic achievement,” Mr Modi said, noting that India was the first country to achieve this on the first attempt.
“The odds were stacked against us. Of the 51 missions attempted across the world so far, a mere 21 had succeeded. But we have prevailed,” he said.
By placing Mangalyaan in the Mars orbit, India joins the US, the European Space Agency and Russia in the elite club of Martian explorers. China and Japan have failed.
Messages congratulating ISRO are pouring in, among them greetings from American space agency NASA.
Mr Modi emphasised that this was a completely ‘Made in India’ effort. “We built it indigenously, in a pan-Indian effort, stretching from Bangalore to Bhubaneswar, and Faridabad to Rajkot,” the PM said, repeatedly congratulating India’s scientists for their achievement.
Fast tracked by ISRO, Mangalyaan was made in just 15 months at a cost of Rs. 450 crore – the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken. Mr Modi again noted today that it was cheaper than a Hollywood movie.
Today’s success will boost India’s five-decade-old space programme that Mr Modi aims to expand with better infrastructure and technology.