India has reached Mars.
The 10-month voyage from Earth to Mars by the Mangalyaan has come to a head, reaching the Red Planet, and entering the planet’s orbit.
There is no doubt that this is a huge moment for India’s space program.
However, India sent the Mangalyaan to Mars for far less than the United States Maven space craft, which reached Mars on Sunday. The US spent $671 million, while India spent just $74 million. The announcement came from Bangalore, with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi present for the momentous occasion.
Prime Minister Modi, in a statement, pointed out that “History had been created,” and that India had “achieved the near impossible.” The celebration though isn’t just taking place amongst India’s elite. The overall feeling in the country as the spacecraft reached the Red Planet without issues, is one that feels like mass euphoria.
Believe it or not, there are not that many nations in the world that can say they’ve made it into space. India joins the United States, Russia, and those nations a part of the European Space Agency to be the only nations to reach space.
Contributing to that euphoria is the fact that this success will have a significant domestic impact, and many within the country have said that the “tremendous economic and technical development” has caused a swift movement to becoming a developed country.
In total, the mission took four years to develop and eventually arrive on Mars. A relatively short period of time, for such a hefty project, and a project that had never been undertaken by the country before.
The focus of the trip to Mars is to establish the presence of methane. There are five instruments on the space craft, and really, the big goal of the entire operation – was to simply reach Mars. However, now that the technological advances have been established, and India has proven to have the ability to reach space, and specifically Mars – India has set their sights on the Moon.
Some though are very skeptical, and even critical of the space program in India – citing a 40% rate amongst children – falling into the category of malnourished. Those that contest those that are critical simply note that advancement in space, will lead to advancement on the ground – and that means a better quality of life for everyone.
Regardless though, this is without a doubt a huge moment for India as a nation, and as a space program.