THE Japanese with all their money and expertise failed in their attempt to reach Mars with their Nozomi orbiter in 1998.
Britain’s Beagle 2 probe separated from the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter in 2003 but nothing was heard from the lander.
A Chinese probe along with the Russian Phobos-Grunt mission was lost in 2012.
Only the Americans, the former Soviet Union and the Europeans have succeeded in operating probes from Mars.
So it came as no surprise to come across those snide remarks from a section of the Western media about a poor country like India spending so much money on space probes when India successfully launched its first mission to Mars. The cost of the Mars Obiter Mission is about US$72.9 million.
The same dishonest and / or ignorant journalists and so-called experts of course don’t point out how these Western countries grew so rich by exploiting their colonies and plundering their natural resources – and, in modern times, by controlling international institutions that skew rules and regulations in their favour.
If all this were about poverty, then why don’t countries such as the U.S. spend their space budgets on the poor in their country? There are tens of millions of people in the U.S. who can’t even afford basic health care – or even a decent meal every day.
These countries talk of spin-offs from their space projects. That’s cool. So why can’t India have spin-offs, too?
The West has always tried to belittle India because they have not been able to control it as they had hoped when that country got its independence in 1947.
The British deliberately weakened India by encouraging Muslims to demand a separate state – Pakistan, with Bangladesh (East Pakistan) separating from it in 1971. Millions perished because of the 1947 Partition and the 1971 Bangladesh War of Independence.
India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru angered the United States and the rest of the West because he refused to suck up to them and pursued what came to be known as “non-alignment.” He used the Soviet Union model of establishing heavy industries with the aim of producing everything in India instead of allowing the West to exploit India by buying raw materials at cheap rates from the so-called Third World countries and then selling them highly expensive goods made from those raw materials.
Both Nehru and his daughter, Indira Gandhi, shrewdly used both the West and the Soviet Union to try and establish a truly independent India. And in spite of all the corruption and inefficiencies that continue to plague India even today, that country is a power to be reckoned with. And all those sarcastic, disparaging remarks cannot hold India back from progressing in every field.
The Associated Press, in its report on the mission, noted: “India’s US$1-billion-a-year space program has helped develop satellite, communication and remote sensing technologies that are being used to measure coastal soil erosion, assess the extent of remote flooding and manage forest cover for wildlife sanctuaries. They are giving fishermen real-time data on where to find fish and helping to predict natural disasters such as a cyclone that barrelled into India’s eastern coast last month. Early warning information allowed Indian officials to evacuate nearly a million people from the massive storm’s path.”
India’s progress has given Indians living outside that country a new sense of pride over the past decade.
OF COURSE, many in West – and in other countries such as China and Japan – must have fervently hoped that India’s launch last Tuesday (November 5) would flop.
But the lift-off went off flawlessly from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, 80 km north of Chennai.
The 1,350-kilo orbiter Mangalyaan, which means Mars craft in Sanskrit, will travel 780 million km over 300 days to reach an orbit around that planet next September. Indian scientists hope to discover more about the loss of water from Mars, map the sources of methane gas, and collect data about the Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos during a six-month period.
K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman of the Indian Space and Research Organization, said: “The biggest challenge will be precisely navigating the spacecraft to Mars. We will know if we pass our examination on September 24, 2014.”
The first key date is December 1, when the spacecraft leaves Earth’s sphere of influence.
For more info on India’s Mar mission, go to www.isro.org/mars/home.aspx
– RATTAN MALL