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India Just Became the First Country to Put a Spacecraft in Mars Orbit on the First Try

And for less money than it cost to put humans in pretend space in Gravity.

Only a handful of nations have ever had a spacecraft successfully orbit Mars—the United States, Russia, and the European Space Agency if you count slingshotting spacecraft through Mars’ gravity for other goals—and India is now one of them. Today, their Mars orbiter, Mangalyaan, made the Indian Space Research Organisation the first space program to ever successfully put a spacecraft in Mars orbit on the first try.

Mangalyaan, whose name means “Mars craft” in Hindi, will circle the Red Planet for about six months using its instruments to collect data about the planet’s surface and atmosphere before its fuel runs out. Putting a spacecraft in orbit around Mars on the first try is an impressive feat, especially considering that, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi pointed out in a press conference, just 21 of other nations’ 51 attempts to send a spacecraft to Mars have been successful.

They did it on a budget, too. NASA’s MAVEN, which also reached Mars orbit two days ago, came in with a price tag of $671 million, and Mangalyaan was only a fraction of that at $75 million. As has been pointed out by Modi and others, the movie Gravity spent more money to make it look like people were in space ($100 million) than it took the ISRO to actually send a satellite to another planet in real life.

Meanwhile, Mangalyaan has been getting acquainted with its surroundings and its new roommates up in space.

(via The Next Web)

Previously… in… SPAAAAAAAAAAACE

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