On Tuesday, people in India and around the world watched what experts describe as a “textbook launch”, as India sent its Mars Orbiter Mission into space. India attempts to become the fourth nation after the United States (NASA), Soviet Union and Europe to explore on Mars.
This space effort for India space research organization (ISRO) will take 10 months in order for the spacecraft to reach Mars’ orbit and join this elite club of explorers. Scientific exploration is the mission for this project to the Red Planet.
The Indian Mars Orbiter Mission, also known as Mangalyaan, (meaning “Mars Craft” in Hindu) will travel 485 million miles on its journey to explore Mars.
This mission positions India to become the emerging Asian giant in space exploration. Probes to Mars have a high failure rate, so if this mission succeeds, so does Indian national pride and status in Asia.
Amidst poverty and plagued with a downturn in its economy, India faces questions about the benefits of joining the space club to Mars. The Indian space mission is to obtain minerals and methane, of which only small amounts have been found from past NASA explorations. It is “considered a necessity not a luxury”, stated Susmita Mohanty, co-founder and chief executive of Earth2Orbit, India’s first private space start-up. Ms. Mohanty explains that satellites have applications from television broadcasting to weather forecasting for disaster management.
“Capturing and igniting the young minds of India and across the globe will be the major return from this mission," mission director P. Kunhikrishnan said from the launch site.
But ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan told CNN that one of the biggest technological challenges was just getting there. China and Russia failed in 2011 to achieve a successful landing.
“The technology developed from such cutting-edge space exploration will ultimately trickle down to benefit the common man,” says Radhakrishnan. This was displayed in October, when India was able to evacuate hundreds of thousands of people as Cyclone Phailin, a powerful tropical storm hit India.