By tomorrow same time, Mangalyaan should have entered the orbit around the Red Planet, Mars. Accomplishing this feat, we will be the fourth space agency; humbly following US [NASA], Soviet Union and ESA. We will also become the first in Asia, after failed attempts by China and Japan.
Let us resolve to enjoy this success with utmost modesty. The seven odd unsuccessful attempts of Mars Exploration made by the Soviet Union, the first attempt failure by NASA, China and Japan, must have sure been great learning lessons for Team ISRO. We are at the verge of success, but, we are far from glory and ground breaking research. Low Cost is not necessarily congruent to state of the art technology!
A lot of new papers are misquoting Mangalyaan to be at the verge of becoming the first successful Mars Mission in the first attempt. It’s not true. European Space Agency, in the very first attempt, was successful in accomplishing the orbiter mission, which is still operational. However, in the follow-up to the mission, their lander crashed. US has not only been successful with multiple orbiter missions, but, also with lander and rover missions. The reason I am bringing up this point is not to tone down the impact of our soon- to- be success, but, to be equally conscious and respectful of the pioneer attempts in the field.
Mars Orbiter Mission is not the first scientific mission to Mars, then, what makes it the center of attraction for the world? This low cost mission cost India approx $72 Millions, which is apparently lesser than the budget for the movie Gravity, as quoted by PM Narendra Modi. MOM was prepared for launch in the fastest time and with the least monetary investment. Indeed, a rare feat. But, think for a moment, we are talking about a billion dollar space industry. Are we tapping out enough from that billion dollar industry with a low cost project? Are we not compromising, clearly? Do you think we are we ready to fail? Did we not make the project low cost, so that, it was more affordable to fail? Think patiently.
I know that with the questions above, I have triggered the critics of MOM, who rather complain about such extravagant expenditure despite the curse of poverty and unemployment in India. Sir/Ma’am, do we have to necessarily wait for poverty to eradicate before launching a space mission that we are fully capable of accomplishing? Should it not be a parallel, synchronous and harmonious process of development in all aspects? Corrupt politicians and the meaningless distribution and hoarding of funds by politicians, has kept us away from fixing the problems like poverty and unemployment in India. Should the corrupt politicians and their insensible distribution of funds, stop these intellectually glorious endeavours of our scientists?
300 days of cruise phase for Mangalayaan, will start a new beginning tomorrow. Let’s just stay humble and hopeful!