With NASA in the midst of a massive budget crunch, the private space industry is stepping in to pick up the slack — along with a few other countries.
The nation of India has successfully reached the Red Planet with its Mangalyaan spacecraft, marking the first time any nation has actually made it to Mars on its first attempt. What’s even more impressive? They did it for a paltry for $74 million, less than half the cash most Hollywood studios spend on the average summer blockbuster.
Mangalyaan, which translates roughly into “Mars craft” in Hindi, is expected to orbit Mars for six months and use scientific instruments to gather data about the planet's surface and atmosphere. As The Verge notes, the 3,000-pound spacecraft isn't as complex as those launched by the U.S. and Russia, but complex or not, it still ain’t easy to successfully shoot it 35-60 million miles across the solar system.
If you’re curious about the success rate of Mars missions, less than half are actually successful. Indian officials noted that only 21 of the 51 previous attempts to reach Mars have actually worked — so, not bad at all to make it on the first shot.
The Indian government is (rightfully) touting the accomplishment this week, and for the rest of us the successful arrival is a nice reminder that even on a shoestring budget, humanity can accomplish some awesome things. So get the carboard and duct tape together — we're getting our a**es to Mars!
(Via The Verge)