India’s Budget Spacecraft On Track For Mars’ Orbit

Affectionately referred to as MOM, the Mars Orbiter Mission is 98% of the way to entering an historic Martian orbit on no more than a paltry $75 million budget. To put that in perspective, NASA spent $671 million on its MAVEN spacecraft.

India's Budget Spacecraft On Track For Mars' Orbit

If Mangalyaan, the name of the orbiter, was to successfully enter a Mars orbit, India will become the first Asian nation to accomplish this feat. At this moment, the Indian Space and Research Organisation is engaged in a series of delicate manipulations of the orbiter in order to establish this bit of engineering on a dime.

Mars Orbiter Mission: Excellence on the cheap

“We have to excel,” space agency chief K. Radhakrishnan said.

India is desperate to show the world the capabilities of its home-grown space program and its ability to perform complex tasks and missions given the potential commercial boon to the nation of 1.2 billion people with millions of engineers, software authors and advanced degree individuals.

Attempts to orbit the “Red Planet” have been largely marked with a lack of success in the past with the majority of efforts failing to obtain their aims. 23 out of 41 missions to Mars have met with failure including a botched effort by Japan at the close of the last millennium in 1999.

“The spacecraft is healthy. It has completed 98 percent of its journey to Mars,” Radhakrishnan said. The Indian space agency confirmed that MOM had a “perfect burn for 4 seconds as programmed” that adjusted its trajectory.

India close to joining others

Yesterday saw the orbiter reach the point where it began to feel Mars’ gravitational pull just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Bangalore to visit the space agency’s command center.

The history of Mars’ flights began with a flyby by the United States’ Mariner 4 in 1964 with the former Soviet Union following in 1971. The European Space Agency achieved a successful mission  in 2003.

In addition to the Indian mission, Mars has three satellites orbiting the planet while NASA is also operating its Curiosity and Opportunity rovers exploring the planet’s surface.




About the Author

Brendan Byrne
While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at theflask@gmail.com