India put a satellite into orbit around Mars early Wednesday, the only country to have done so on a maiden voyage and the first in Asia to reach the red planet, the Wall Street Journal reported.
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked on, scientists at mission control in Bangalore announced that the Mangalyaan orbiter had entered Mars orbit after a 10-month voyage from Earth, the report said.
“History has been created today, we have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near impossible,” Modi was quoted as saying. “I congratulate all scientists as well as all my fellow Indians on this historic occasion.”
“We have gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and imagination. We have navigated our spacecraft through a route known to very few,” the prime minister added.
India now joins a small club of nations — the US, Russia and those in the European Space Agency – to have mastered interplanetary travel, giving it bragging rights over Asian rivals China and Japan whose attempts to get to Mars failed, the Journal noted.
Mangalyaan cost US$74 million to send into space, making it by far the cheapest of recent missions to Mars.
The satellite will now circle the planet for at least six months, gathering scientific data that may shed light on Martian weather systems as well as what happened to the water that is believed to have existed once on Mars in large quantities, according to the Associated Press.
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