India became the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet when its indigenously made unmanned spacecraft entered the orbit of Mars on Wednesday — and the first nation in the world to successfully reach Mars on its first attempt.
The spacecraft called “Mangalyaan,” or “Mars-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…
The official Twitter account of NASA’s Curiosity Rover — which has been on the Martian surface since Aug. 6, 2012 — tweeted, “Namaste, @MarsOrbiter! Congratulations to @ISRO and India’s first interplanetary mission upon achieving Mars orbit.”
To which MOM’s Twitter account replied, “Howdy @MarsCuriosity ? Keep in touch. I’ll be around…”
Over the next six months, India’s Mangalyaan will study the mineral composition on Mars and also look for the presence of methane, a chemical key to life on Earth.
India has launched 75 satellites since 1975, and its space program has over the years worked on collecting weather data, predicting natural disasters, feeding television and radio stations and also teaching children in remote villages without schools.
“We have seen the report and congratulate India on the Mars satellite entering the orbit successfully,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing…This is pride of India and Pride of Asia and also is a landmark progress in humankind’s exploration of outer space. So we congratulate India on that,” she said.
Questions of economics and priorities will be asked – properly – but, congratulations are in order more than anything else. Another standard of modern society achieved by an Asian nation.
An old-timey sci-fi geek like me has to be thrilled.