After the moon, the red planet, so near and so far to our universe, has generated lot of interest and curiosity not only in the US, Europe, Japan and China but also in India. After a successful tryst with the moon (Chandrayaan project), India is embarking on an ambitious, extremely long, challenging journey to Mars with lot of hopes of achieving success on its first attempt itself. With the launch window open till November 19 only, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is racing against time to keep its date with Mangal graha. Otherwise, one will have to wait till 2016.
There have been many hitches, criticisms and opposition to Mangalyaan right from the day the project was announced. The Rs 450-crore-Mars mission has attracted brickbats as well as appreciation with some countries like UK saying that if India had money for Mars why do they need aid for health and sanitation projects while some others have welcomed the project and stressed that it will put India on the map of inter-planetary capabilities and also demonstrate our prowess where even China had failed. However, many scientists and experts have clearly expressed their optimism on the success of the mission and hope that it will gain many worthwhile experiences.
Former senior scientist and deputy director, National Aerospace Laboratory, V S Ganesh is pretty optimistic when it comes to the issue of India’s launch capabilities and success in Mars mission. “We are the best in the world and our success rate is much better than other countries. There were failures in the initial phases of space programme but we have achieved mastery and now have good chances as our engineers are capable of delivering it. In fact, Indian scientists can be found in NASA and ESA in very senior positions and that shows how good we are. The mission is tough and one will see results after many months after launch. When India’s first rocket was launched, people were laughing at us but today see where we are. The challenges in this mission is many but we can learn from the experiences of other countries. We are just spending a small amount compared to NASA or others as our mission infrastructure, manpower is cheaper. I have worked with ISRO scientists and I know their capability,” says Ganesh who was responsible for acoustic testing of satellites and was involved in 300 major tests on satellite launch vehicles and subsystems from 1986 to 2007 at NAL.
According to Ashok Baweja, Head, Quest Global Defence Engineering Services, the idea to hit Mars will take India’s technological capabilities to a different level. “It’s a very good idea and shows the confidence ISRO has in its programmes.
To me it’s a very credible move that will build capabilities,” Baweja, the former HAL Chairman said.
Sounding caution Prof Sitaram Bhat, Aerospace Engineering, IISc said, “As far as my knowledge goes, all of the first time inter-planetary missions have failed across the world. This is the first time we’re sending a satellite to Mars and I think we shouldn’t keep our hopes too high at the moment, as it is a very challenging mission because of the long distance.
Apart from this, even communication channels will be very weak. If we do manage to pull this off, India will be the first country to succeed on a first time mission.”
Concluding on a hopeful note for the mission and its scientists, Kailas Chandran, a mapping specialist who has worked in India and abroad says, “The Mars mission is not a waste and even if the mission fails, one can learn many things from its failures and re-work on it. It is a good scientific development for the country as we are sending our satellite on an inter-planetary mission. We will gain lot of advantages from such space missions and help the country in its future endeavours.”
(With inputs from Anantha Krishnan M and Shyama Krishna Kumar)