India made history on Wednesday at 7.41am, local time when it became the first nation to successfully put a satellite into Mars orbit on first attempt, and the first Asian country to do so.
The Mars Obiter Mission (MOM), also known as Mangalyaan, probe was launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on 5 November 2013 and travelled 420 million miles over 300 days. Previously the US, Russia and Europe have sent missions to Mars but only India has succeeded on its first attempt.
The robotic probe will now begin mapping the surface and studying the atmosphere of the red planet. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who was with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) congratulated the team, “We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and innovation,” he said, “We have navigated our craft through a route known to very few.”
At a cost of $70m (£43m), Mangalyaan, which means “Mars craft” in Hindi, is one of the cheapest interplanetary missions ever. Many have pointed out that India’s Mars mission cost less than the $100 million price tag for the Oscar winning Hollywood space thriller Gravity.
The speed the mission was pulled together has also been a surprise to many. It was only August 2012 when India’s then-prime minister, Manmohan Singh, announced the country’s Mars ambitions. It then took just two years and one month for India’s space agency to engineer, assemble, launch and reach Mars orbit.
Nasa’s Maven spacecraft, which was announced in 2008, arrived in Mars orbit on Sunday. The mission has cost almost $700m (£430m) and is the 10th US mission sent to orbit the planet.
Despite the low costs there has been some controversy over the mission, some critics have said India should use its funds to help people on Earth. The country is currently suffering from problems with development, education and poverty but India defended the mission by pointing out its importance in providing jobs for scientists and engineers and its value in solving problems on Earth.