As dawn was breaking on Mars, on a day in September, Mangalyaan—a.k.a. Mars Orbiter Mission (or M.O.M.)—India’s maiden mission to the Red Planet, eased into its orbit after traversing 400 million miles in a little over 300 days.
India is the first Asian nation to accomplish this space feat. The success is all the sweeter considering that the failure rate for Mars missions is notoriously high. Both the U.S. and Russia had failed in their first attempts. So had China, Russia, and Japan.
Also, at $74 million, it’s being applauded for its unbelievably low-cost. The probe, fully Indian-made—a departure from the approach with Chandrayaan-1—was launched last November, from the space port at Sriharikota, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal.