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India Off to Mars!

November 11, 2013
Plain English Version

On November 5, 2013 India launched a spacecraft bound for Mars.

At a cost of $74 million, it is the lowest cost rocket ever sent aloft. Some people are asking if this is a good use of money. India still has a very large poor population.

A journalist said, “This mission is of great importance to not only India but also the world at large.”

The mission is named Mangalyann. It means Mars-craft in Hindi. It will take 10 months to reach the red planet. With a successful launch the next step is for the rocket to leave the earth’s orbit.

An expert said two-thirds of the Mars’ missions have failed to leave earth’s orbit. Of the 51 launches by five countries, only 21 have been successful.

If it gets to Mars it will orbit the planet for six months. The craft will do experiments on the atmosphere and study the surface, topography and mineralogy of the planet.

India and China are in something of a space race. A 2011 mission by China failed. An Indian said, “This mission has national pride written on it. If we can do it before China, why not?”

A state-owned Chinese newspaper was critical of India. It said there are over 320 million people in poverty in India. It hinted that the mission was meant to overtake the Chinese program.

Indian politics are also a factor. An election is coming. The ruling Congress Party supports the mission. Opponents say the money should have been spent on the poor.

Source: The Christian Science Monitor                                                                        November 5, 2013

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