Last week, India joined a select few nations in entering the Red Planet’s orbit. After the nail biting year since the launch, India is now forever to be known as the first Asian nation to reach Mars and the first of all nations to successfully reach Mars on their first try. India’s Mars’ orbiter (or, Mangalyaan) has joined the US, Europe, and Soviet’s orbiters as well as the US’s two ground rovers.
The huge success for the Asian nation has been applauded by their fellows in space travel as well as other nations who’re still in the process of attempting to make this great advancement in the scientific community, such as Japan and China.
And while they aren’t the first nation to orbit Mars, 51 similar missions have been attempted yet only 21 have succeeded. That India has managed to do it on their first attempt and with a fraction of any others’ budget is an incredible achievement.
The ISRO (or, India Space Research Organization) succeeded in this mission on a budget of a mere $74 million, compared to the $671 million that NASA used to launch their own MAVEN only a few days earlier.
So how were they able to cut costs without compromising the quality of their spacecraft?
India’s space program chose to concentrate their technology into a smaller craft focused on certain hot-topics, such as an ability to measure methane gas in the Red Planet’s atmosphere, and therefore search for life. This ability will offer assistance to the other orbiters currently measuring these levels in order for all the nations to obtain more reliable data.
Some, particularly within the impoverished nation, have criticized India’s spending on such an enormous mission. However, with this successful mission in advanced technology, India has now created opportunity to greatly enhance their political and economic position. They hope that this achievement will attract more attention from wealthy industrial countries and join as a major player.
Regardless, India and their ISRO have launched themselves into the history books and our headlines.