India has become the first nation to achieve a successful insertion to Mars orbit on its first attempt, after an epic 10-month trek by its cunning Mangalyaan (aka Mars Orbiter Mission, or MOM) spacecraft.
The mission that marked India as a genuine deep-space power is also a miracle of low-cost space exploration, setting the nation back just $74m, compared to the billions that typify American deep-space missions.
A burn has just been completed, shortly before 8 am India Standard Time on Wednesday 24 September, to drop Mangalyaan into orbit. After a nervous few minutes while the orbiter was occluded by Mars, the spacecraft appeared and began transmitting to the Indian Space Research Organisation's mission control.
Indian Space Research Organisation officials remain confident that Mangalyaan (“Mars Craft” in Hindi) is in good condition after its trek, and the spacecraft's operators announced on September 17 that they'd finished uploading the necessary commands for insertion. A successful test burn of the engines followed on September 22.
As The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla noted, India can now lay claim to being the first country to successfully drop into orbit on the first attempt:
India has become the first country EVER to enter Mars orbit on the first attempt! Congratulations!! #marsorbitormission— Emily Lakdawalla (@elakdawalla) September 24, 2014
Launched in 2013, Mangalyaan made six swings around Earth to gain velocity and pointed its head outwards in December.
Updates are continuing from ISRO here. ®