MOM makes it to Mangal

Today MOM has met Mangal (Mars). Today Mangal has got MOM. The time this mission was short named as MOM, I was sure that MOM won’t disappoint us— Prime Minister Narendra Modi

I have said it in the past too, the amount our scientists have spent on this mission is even less than what they spend in making Hollywood movies— ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan

Bangalore: India on Wednesday created space history by successfully placing its low-cost Mars spacecraft in orbit around the Red Planet in its very first attempt, catapulting the country into an elite club of three nations.

With the success of “Mangalyaan”, India has become the first country to go to Mars in the very first try. European, American and Russian probes have managed to orbit or land on the planet, but after several attempts. The first Chinese mission to Mars, called Yinghuo-1, failed in 2011. Earlier in 1998, the Japanese mission ran out of fuel and was lost. India is also the first Asian country to reach the red planet.

MOM  traversed over 650 million km through deep space for over nine months to successfully reach the planet’s orbit. The US, Europe and Russia had failed in their first attempts. The spacecraft successfully entered the Martian orbit at 7.55 am and is located at about 515 km from its surface. Radars at the earth stations of NASA at Goldstone in the US, Madrid in Spain, Canberra in Australia and India’s own deep space network at Baylalu near Bangalore received the radio signals from the Orbiter, confirming its insertion into the Mars orbit.

Watched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ISRO scientists successfully ignited the main 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and eight small thrusters that fired for 24-minutes from 7.17 am and slowed down the speed of Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft ‘Mangalyaan’ for it to slip into a smooth orbit around the Red Planet after almost an year-long voyage.

“Today MOM has met Mangal (Mars). Today Mangal has got MOM. The time this mission was short named as MOM, I was sure that MOM won’t disappoint us,” Modi, who wore a red coloured jacket, said annnouncing the Rs 450 crore mission’s success, after nerve-wracking final moments at the command centre of Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) here.

Scientists broke into wild cheers and congratulated each other after the 1,350 kg spacecraft was manoeuvred into its designated place, capping a 666 million km journey that began on November 5 last. Modi, who witnessed the operation along with the space scientists, said the odds were stacked against “us with only 21 of the 51 missions to Mars being successful,” but “we have prevailed”. “Our scientists have achieved this in the first attempt. This is first time in the world. History has been created today.
We have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved near impossible. We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and innovation. We have navigated our craft through a route known to very few,” Modi said in a speech in Hindi and English, congratulating the scientists and “all my fellow Indians on this historic occasion.” An elated Prime Minister patted the back of ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan and complimented the Indian space scientists for making space history.

“I have said it in the past too, the amount our scientists have spent on this mission is even less than what they spend in making Hollywood movies,” he said in his address to the mission scientists. At just $74 million, the mission is less than the estimated $100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster “Gravity”. India’s MOM is the cheapest inter-planetary mission, costing a tenth of NASA’s Mars mission Maven that entered the Martian orbit on September 22. It aims to study Mars’ surface and mineral composition, and scan its atmosphere for methane, a chemical strongly tied to life on Earth. Given the high rate of failures – only 21 of the total of 51 missions sent to Mars by various countries being successful, the success of MOM has given a boost to India’s global standing in Space.

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