India receives accolades for its Mars feat
Despite facing monetary and technological limitations, when India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft entered Mars’ orbit on September 24 -exactly 10 months and19 days after it was launched from Sriharikota on November 5, 2013, India became the first nation in the world to successfully make to the Mars in its maiden attempt. Rare feat which was achieved just in two years, as the approval for the mission was given by the government only in August, 2012. Also, the budget allocated for the mission was one tenth of America’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) mission which cost NASA around$671 million. India’s Mars project cost only$74 million – about three quarters of the amount Hollywood spent on making the Oscar winning movies “Gravity”. This has also put India in the select group of nations which successfully put their spacecrafts to the MARS orbit. Prior to India, technological behemoths like America, Russia and European Union could show their prowess to launch crafts up to Mars and that too after several bouts of failures.
This can be analyzed from the fact that out of 41 missions that were carried out since the 1990s, only 23 remained successful. Even Japan and China failed summarily. Japan had launched its Mars mission in 1999, it could not triumph over the tough task of crossing earth’s orbit, similarly a Chinese spacecraft destined for Mars failed to leave earth’s orbit in 2011. In that way, India has also become the first Asian country to make it to Mars orbit with help from technology built indigenously. This has propelled the world to send congratulatory words to India and its scientists from the ISRO (Indian Space Research Centre). China, India’s rival in the immediate neighbourhood, has praised the country for its spectacular achievement given that China’s only English tabloid daily Global Times had given a critical comment in its editorial after India launched Mars mission last year.
“This is the pride of India and the pride of Asia, and a landmark progress in humankind’s exploration of outer space,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said while saying “China always maintained peaceful development of our space and carry out cooperation in this regard.” Of course, it has been Pakistani scientists, known for their barbs against India, have been left squirming on their seats after India’s marvelous space development. Abdul Quadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme and who is said to have stealthily sold off nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, Libya and other nations, could not hide his glee cum disappointment syndrome following India’s metro bus project whilst Nawaz enjoys US visit with $1 lakh per day on our tax.”
But since India has stolen the show and that too, hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much publicized US visit, American leaders from President Barack Obama to Secretary of State John Kerry have poured words of praise for this spectacular performance of the ISRO. In that manner, America’s space agency NASA had a special word of admiration for the ISRO’s feat. NASA administrator Charles Bolden maintained, “We congratulate the Indian Space Organisation for its successful arrival at Mars with the Mars Orbiter Mission. It was an impressive engineering feat, and we welcome India to the family of nations studying another facet of the Red Planet. We look forward to MOM adding to the knowledge the international community is gathering with the other spacecraft at Mars. All space exploration expands the frontiers of scientific knowledge and improves life for everyone on earth. We commend this significant milestone for India.”
On the other hand, Russia which praised India profusely after its Mar mission was successfully launched in 2013, led the march in commending the feat India achieved with the shoestring budget. Although exact words of Putin’s congratulatory words have not been made public, but largely they are singing paeans of Indian space scientists achievements.
Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius, European countries have also sent their congratulatory words, which according to some analysts indicate about India’s emergence as a major space power of the world. Indeed, India has moved on. As result, analysts like C Uday Bhaskar of the Society for Policy Studies have no qualm in saying that “Mars is a crucial marketing opportunity for low-cost technological know-how.” Mangalyaan which will move in an elliptical orbit around Mars will remain operational for six months because its fuel will last for that period only, yet during its brief life period it will enlighten the humans by sending back crucial information about weather and methane levels from the Red planet-680 million kilometres away from earth.
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