Bengaluru: The 8 am call that the Mars Orbiter Mission had emerged from the dark side of Mars was the call that every indian space scientist was waiting for.
A beaming Prime Minister Narendra Modi, sporting a red jacket, said the scientists’ achievement was a “thousand times bigger” than any cricket victory, and asked students in every school and college to spend at least five minutes applauding them.
“Today, MOM has met Mangal (Mars). Today, Mangal has got MOM. The time this mission was short named MOM, I was sure that MOM would not disappoint us,” said an exultant Mr Modi while plunging into the crowd of Isro scientists and engineers at ISTRAC, soon after the moment that India and its scientists made history, making it a point to shake everyone’s hand and congratulate all present.
“History has been created. We have dared to reach out into the unknown and achieved the near impossible,” Mr Modi declared, embracing Isro’s chief.
“The success of our space programme is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation,” the PM added.
The PM, who watched the final moments leading to the success of the Mars mission at the Isro command centre, was seen clapping persistently, and was effusive in his praise of the ISRO scientists for making India the “first” country to succeed in its maiden attempt.
He said Isro had achieved the “near impossible”, and prevailed though the “odds were stacked against us”. He described the Mars Orbiter Mission as an indigenous pan-Indian effort, stretching from Bengaluru to Bhubaneswar, and Faridabad to Rajkot.
India now joins an elite club of the United States, Russia and Europe, who can boast of reaching Mars.
More than half of all missions to the planet have ended in failure, including China’s in 2011 and Japan’s in 2003.
No single nation had previously succeeded at its first go, although the European Space Agency, representing a consortium of countries, pulled off the feat at its first attempt.
America’s Nasa congratulated India on its “Mars arrival”.
The Orbiter, according to Dr S.K. Shivakumar, director, ISAC, was in “extremely good health” after arriving at its orbit. “We saw good synchronisation of all systems and we are very happy with the performance of Mangalyaan,” he added.