Everyone sat anxious and tense, at the Mission Operations Complex-2 (MOX-2), the nerve centre of India’s Mars mission.There was just one question on everybody’s mind: Will it happen?When Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan nodded calmly,the gesture made it official. At 7.59 a.m. on 24th September 2014, India had accomplished a gigantic feat of putting a spacecraft in orbit around Mars in its first attempt.
The space odyssey of the “Mangalyaan” (Mars Orbiter Mission – MOM) commenced on 5th November 2013 when it set out on its journey to Mars onto an indigenous and improved PSLV-C25. It would travel 78 crore kilometers in a 300 days journey towards the Red Planet for its eventual date with destiny.On the anointed day the LAM engines & the thrusters roared into life and placed Mangalyaan in the Martian Orbit.
The entire project cost USD 74 Million (Rupess 450 crores) (Hollywood flick “Gravity” cost USD 900 Million).This is the cheapest ever inter planetary space mission.The improved PSLV-C25, LAM engines, the AOCS thrusters, Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA),Gyroscopes & Accelerometers are some of the critical components designed & manufactured indigenously in India. ISRO is the fourth space agency after the Russians,NASA & the ESA to reach Mars & the first to do it right in its first attempt.India & the USA are now in an agreement to share the findings of the mission with NASA.
Such a feat will always attract acolytes & detractors alike.Its the latter which keep me in business!
New York Times (NYTimes/ NYT) published a cartoon showing members of the Elite Space Club reading a newspaper with a headline about India’s Mars mission. They appear unhappy with a seemingly impoverished Indian man dressed in a a turban,with a cow,knocking at their door.This is a self goal by NYT. The caricature has nothing to do with contemporary realities & it failed to register the fact that no other country has managed to enter Martian orbit in its first attempt & that NASA is relying upon “Mangalyaan” to improve upon the findings of its ultra expensive “Curiosity” or “Maven”.
In case ISRO is succesful in launching a cow,a certain Lalu Prasad Yadav is already working on the contract to supply fodder on Mars.May God -or Martians- save the cows & the fodder!!!
Incidentally, the Chinese are still looking for their Mars bound “Yinghuo 1” in the Pacific & the Japanese “Nozomi” is declared lost as it could not place itself in orbit around the planet!
The ruling BJP has gone gung ho with the launch & trumpeted it as the biggest success of the Modi Government.They are now hopeful of reaching an agreement atleast with the Martians on seat sharing arrangements for any elections taking place on Mars!
Some of the Congressmen are upset at missing out on a Golden opportunity.Realising only now that this was a one way mission they are ruing their chances of not convincing Rahul Gandhi aka Pappu to undertake a Martian tour for championing women empowerment on Mars!
One Arvind Kejriwal has demanded that amongst the many probes in the spacecraft which one is probing corruption on Mars?On being answered in the negative he has claimed this to be a sign that the NDA Government is not serious about tackling corruption (??)! He is demanding that ISRO send him to Mars so he can sit on a Dharna & protest!
The al Qaeda isnt happy with this Indian achievement & they have asked Hafeez Saeed to send suicide bombers after Mangalyaan.Not to be out done, the Islamic State has in a recent interview to some western news channel ordered the beheading of Mars (???) for hosting an infidel spacecraft!
To out do ISRO , Bilawal Bhutto of Pakistan is planning a rocket to the Sun (???) He is now managing Bajaj engines to power the flight.His scientists are presently figuring out how much to tilt the rocket to get it kick started? Any guesses?
Narendra Modi is also being credited by the RBI for smart economics.The timely fine of Rs 100 crore on ex CM, Jayalalitha lowered the effective cost of the MOM to Rupees 350 crore!This has found favour with the credit rating agencies & India has been upgraded from it present status of “negative”!
Coming to the Amul Ad/ topical on Magalyaan or the Mars Orbiter Mission.It captures the ISRO feat of putting the Mangalyaan in Martian orbit.It depicts the Amul Girl in a space suit & in a Superman like pose she is guiding the speeding “Mangalyaan” towards Mars, which is seen in the background.
The Tag Line…Mangalkhaana..is a spin on the name of the spacecraft “Mangalyaan (Mars-craft)” . “Mangal” in hindi has two meanings.It means the planet Mars & also means Auspicious.And the word “Khana” has been used to depict the Amul butter as being equally pleasant & auspicious as the ISRO achievement.
The Punch Line..MOMs love it..is a take on the anagram of the Mars Orbiter Mission & is a subtle endorsement of the Amul butter as being the favoured choice of mothers for pampering their children with generous dollops of the yellow delight!
Amul had previously commemorated the start of the mission too.
In the midst of all the accolades the real significance of the mission lies in the future exploration & eventual attempts to colonise outer space for its resources.Mars is flush with Methane & the leading nations already have their sights on the resource.ISROs success implies that the neighbouring countries will not make a beeline for China to assist in launching satellites & this has massive security & economic implications. ISRO has contributed immensely through remote sensing & now the MOM will further stabilise its credentials for additional financial commitments to explore outer space.It is definitely a feat worth commemorating & has invigorated young minds to take up scientific studies.
The most unbelievably low cost of USD 74 Million was achieved by keeping the Mangalyaan payload down to 15kg, compared to the complex MAVEN payload, to complement and not duplicate what the other missions to mars already have in and around Mars.In conjunction with the Maven and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Mars Express, Mangalyaan will provide a three point measurement of the research on methane and the presence of methane producing microbes on Mars.
So,India simply played it smart ! And for NYT,whether you like gatecrashers or not, snake charmers have now mastered the fourth rock from the sun…and can teach you a thing or two as well !
NYT has since retracted the controversial cartoon & apologised as well.Reality Bites…or should i say..Moos (like a cow)!
19 December 14
ISRO and its team of scientists have made a major breakthrough.The space agency has achieved the successful launch of the GSLV Mk III.The launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in Sriharikota on 18 December 14 of the heaviest Indian rocket,also known as LVM3/CARE, was carried out to validate the complex atmospheric flight regime of the suborbital experimental mission.Its two solid S 200 engines and a liquid L110 engine performed as expected.The rocket also carried a passive (non functional) cryogenic upper stage.This has brought ISRO closer to carrying out the first development flight with a functional C25 Cryogenic stage,also known as Cry engine or cry stage.Success of the LVM3-X will ensure heavier payloads of up to 4 tonnes for Indian satellite launch vehicles and will eliminate the need to depend on foreign agencies to launch such satelites.
The CARE stands for Crew Module Atmospheric Reentry Experiment.This module was integrated in the upper stage of the rocket and separated at approx 126 km and after 730 seconds splashed in the Indian Ocean at a controlled speed of 7m per second.The success of the CARE module in meeting all flight and re entry parameters augurs well for the future.And thirty years after Rakesh Sharma, India is now definitively closer to putting together its first manned mission to space.
Success begets success and after Mangalyaan each leap is now bigger than the previous one.