Mangalyaan: History-making Mission to Mars

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There is often a thin line between success and failure that tends to overlap one another. In case, of India’s maiden Mission to Mars (MOM) via the unmanned rocket – aptly named – Mangalyaan, there were no lines crossed between success and failure, with the former absolutely thumping the latter.

United States, the Soviet Union and the European Space Agency are the only entities who have enjoyed successes in sending their spacecrafts to the red planet in a bid to understand it more and unravel the secrets that it has been hoarding for all of its existence.

None of the countries however accomplished the launch of their spacecrafts into the Mars orbit in the first attempt, a feat in which India now stands unequalled and unrivalled. However as illuminating as this facet of information is, it is the cost factor involved that has been more prominently highlighted.

Mangalyaan Cost Comparison
Mangalyaan Cost Comparison. Image courtesy-WSJ

There’s much reason to speak about the same. India’s Mission to Mars cost only about $74 million or INR 4.5 billion, a fraction of what the USA, European Space Agency and the Soviet Union spent in their respective Mars expedition missions. The costliest was by far, US’s expedition, Maven which cost around $671 million, launched in November 2013 (Maven arrived in the Mars orbit on September 2014) followed by the $386 million European Space Agency’s Mars Express Orbiter launched in June 2003 and which arrived in the Mars orbit on December 2003.

Two other launches, Japan’s Nozomi costing around $189 million and Russia’s Phobos-Grunt (equipped with Chinese satellite system) costing around $117 million launched in July 1998 and November 2011 respectively, failed to make it into the Mars orbit.

Mangalyaan was launched on the 5th November, 2013 from Sriharikota, a port on the eastern coast of the Bay of Bengal. From start to finish, the mission looked in sight with no major hiccups marring its trajectory. The scientists at ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) were assured of the mission’s success and following the arrival of Mangalyaan into the orbit of the red planet, its chairman Mr. Radhakrishnan spoke about what the success of Mangalyaan actually entailed for the Asian nation.

Mr. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India too was quite pleased with the success of Mangalyaan and applauded ISRO and the team of scientists working on the mission on their efforts to make Mangalyaan and the Mission to Mars an unqualified success, making India a part of an elite group of countries.


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