India's Mars Mission enters Red Planet?s orbit in maiden attempt; starts functioning

PM ISRO CHIEF 2409Bangalore (ISJ) ? "We have prevailed," said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he congratulated space scientists at the Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bangalore, echoing the sentiments of a nation, which waited with bating breath and prayed for the success of Mars Orbiter Mission.

"History has been created today. We have dared to reach out to the unknown. And have achieved the near impossible," said Modi in a bilingual speech, a departure from his usual style.

Project Mars Orbiter Mission created a history of sorts in the space programme of the entire world ? it was conceived and executed in just three years, at a cost of just Rs. 450 crore rupees or 74 million US dollars and above all with text book precision. On the other hand the NASA?s MAVEN cost 671 million US dollars.

According to space scientists at ISTRAC, MOM has already taken five images of the Red Planet and hopes it would be available for public viewing by this evening.

"The odds were stacked against us. Of the 51 missions attempted across the world so far, a mere 21 had succeeded. But we have prevailed," said an elated Modi. 'With today's spectacular success, ISRO joins an elite group of only three other agencies worldwide, to have successfully reached the red planet. India, in fact, is the only country to have succeeded in its very first attempt."

Sceptics had criticised the project at its launch. Former Chief of ISRO G. Madhavan Nair, who was at helm at the launch of India?s first imaging mission to the moon ? Chandrayaan in 2008 had said it would be ?a national waste," and went on to describe it as "a half-baked, half-cooked mission being attempted in undue haste with misplaced objectives."

Development Economist Jean Dreze at the Delhi School of Economics had criticised the mission saying, "I don't understand the importance of India sending a space mission to Mars when half of its children are undernourished and half of all Indian families have no access to sanitation." He told the Financial Times, it was "part of the Indian elite's delusional quest for superpower status."

But Prime Minister Modi silenced all critics and said, the mission was achieved at a fraction of the cost of missions by countries like the USA, European Union and Russia.

"A Hollywood film costs much more than what we have spent on Mars Orbiter Mission," he quipped.

ISRO head Dr. K. Radhakrishnan had recently told Rajya Sabha TV "our focus always has been space applications."

Meanwhile, NASA, the US space agency tweeted at the Indian success, "We congratulate ISRO for its Mars arrival. Mars Orbiter joins the missions studying the Red Planet".

-NB Nair

Image courtesy: PIB

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