India’s Big Leap : Becomes first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit

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India became the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet when its indigenously made unmanned spacecraft entered the orbit of Mars on Wednesday (Sep 24) and the first nation in the world to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt.

The spacecraft called “Mangalyaan,” or “Mar’s craft” in Hindi, which was launched last November, slowed down just enough to reach orbit early Wednesday, securing India a place in the elite global space club of Martian explorers.

Images of beaming scientists clapping and hugging each other at the command center in the southern city of Bangalore were shown live in a nationally televised broadcast after a breathless, nail-biting countdown during the spacecraft’s final leg.

Over an hour after reaching the orbit, the space agency received the first photographic data of the red planet’s terrain which were transmitted via an antenna located in Canberra, Australia.

Calling it the “national pride event,” the Indian Space Research Organization also showed it live on Facebook and Twitter. NASA tweeted congratulations to India for its “Mars arrival.” More than half of the 51 Mars missions launched globally have failed. India’s successful mission follows those of the United States, Europe and Russia.

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Excerpts from Washington Post      Image Courtesy : ISRO

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