In­dian space­craft reaches Mars on maiden at­tempt

Viet Nam News - - FRONT PAGE -

—In­dia be­came the first na­tion to reach Mars on its maiden at­tempt yes­ter­day when its low-cost Man­galyaan space­craft suc­cess­fully en­tered or­bit around the Red Planet after a 10-month jour­ney.

“In­dia has suc­cess­fully reached Mars... His­tory has been cre­ated to­day,” a ju­bi­lant Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi said from mis­sion con­trol after en­try into or­bit was con­firmed at 8:02am (0232 GMT).

“We have dared to reach out into the un­known and have achieved the near im­pos­si­ble,” he added amid rau­cous cheer­ing from sci­en­tists at the In­dian Space Re­search Or­gan­i­sa­tion’s base near Ban­ga­lore.

The suc­cess of the mis­sion, which is de­signed to search for ev­i­dence of life on the Red Planet, is a huge source of na­tional pride for In­dia as it leaves its Asian ri­vals, in­clud­ing China, in the shade.

In­dia now joins an elite club of the United States, Rus­sia and Europe who can boast of reach­ing Mars. More than half of all mis­sions to the planet have ended in fail­ure, in­clud­ing China’s in 2011 and Ja­pan’s in 2003.

No sin­gle na­tion had pre­vi­ously suc­ceeded at its first go, although the Euro­pean Space Agency, which rep­re­sents a con­sor­tium of coun­tries, did also pull it off at its first at­tempt.

Now Man­galyaan has reached Mars, the probe is ex­pected to study the planet'’s sur­face and scan its at­mos­phere for meth­ane, which could pro­vide ev­i­dence of some sort of life form.

Man­galyaan is car­ry­ing a cam­era, an imag­ing spec­trom­e­ter, a meth­ane sen­sor and two other sci­en­tific in­stru­ments.

At just US$74 mil­lion, the mis­sion cost is less than the es­ti­mated $100 mil­lion bud­get of the sci-fi block­buster “Grav­ity”. That fig­ure also rep­re­sents just a frac­tion of NASA'’s MAVEN space­craft which suc­cess­fully be­gan or­bit­ing the fourth planet from the sun on Sun­day.

In­dian en­gi­neers em­ployed an un­usual “sling­shot” method for Man­galyaan ’ s (Hindi for Mars ve­hi­cle) in­ter­plan­e­tary jour­ney which be­gan when it blasted off on Novem­ber 5 last year.

Lack­ing enough rocket to blast di­rectly out of Earth'’s at­mos­phere and grav­i­ta­tional pull, it or­bited the Earth for sev­eral weeks while build­ing up enough ve­loc­ity to break free.

De­spite the com­pli­ca­tions, sci­en­tists had been in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent of suc­cess and mis­sion di­rec­tor M. An­nadu­rai said on Tues­day that all was go­ing to plan.

“ Ev­ery­thing is go­ing on smoothly as pro­grammed and the space­craft'’s health is nor­mal,” said An­nadu­rai.

Ob­servers say it is the per- fect op­por­tu­nity to showcase In­dia’s tech­no­log­i­cal prow­ess as well as a chance for some one- up­man­ship on its ri­val Asian su­per­power.

“It’s a low-cost tech­nol­ogy demon­stra­tion, ” said Pallava Bagla, who has writ­ten a book on In­dia’s space pro­gramme.

Staff from the In­dian Space Re­search rgan­i­sa­tion in an­ga­lore cel­e­brate after the Mars rbiter Space­craft suc­cess­fully en­tered the planet s or­bit yes­ter­day. AFP VNA Photo

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