With a modest budget of $74 million (£45 million), India has become the first Asian country to reach Mars. After China completed a successful test mission to the moon back in November, it was predicted that China held Asian space supremacy.
However, the Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entered orbit around the red planet after a tense 300-day marathon, travelling more than 420 million miles.
An hour after reaching orbit, India’s space agency, ISRO, received the first photographic data of Mars’ terrain.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) crowned a ‘near impossible’ push to become the only country to complete the voyage on its maiden attempt. Russia, China, and the US failed their first attempts while the Japanese mission ran out of fuel.
“History has been created today,” said Narendra Modi at the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation when it was announced the mission had been accomplished. “The success of our space programme is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation. Our space programme has been an example of achievement,” said the nationalist prime minister.
The Mangalyaan spacecraft (‘Mars craft’ in Hindi) will study the planet’s surface and scan its atmosphere for methane, a key chemical in life process on Earth.
Experts say that the success of the mission will attract a lot of business for the ISRO, as the country still remains a small player in the global space industry.
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