This is India's first interplanetary mission and also, India's most challenging space mission till date. So far there have been 51 missions to the red planet globally. Among those, only 21 have been successful. This clearly indicates the complexity of the mission. Mars lies 400 million km away from Earth and it will take 300 days for Mangalyaan to reach the planet. The long distance constitutes the main challenge in the mission, according to Isro officials.
In an interview with Vanita Srivastava of Hindustan Times, Isro chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan said, " We had to calibrate our hardware to withstand a territory not experienced before. Since there is a propagation delay of 20 minutes (one way) when we communicate with the spacecraft, because of its distance from Earth, the spacecraft has to be ‘intelligent' enough to take care of itself during that period".
According to Isro chairman, one of the main objectives of the mission is to develop technologies required for design, planning, management and operations of an interplanetary mission. Apart from that, there are scientific obectives which include exploration of Mar's surface, topography, mineralogy and atmosphere.
We are certainly not competing with any country, including China
A Russian mission carrying the first Chinese satellite to Mars had failed in November 2011. Japan also failed in a similar effort in 1998. Foreign medias like Bbc observes that India sees the Mars mission as an opportunity to beat its regional rival China in reaching the planet.
China has beaten India in space in almost every aspect so far: it has rockets that can lift four times more weight than India's, and in 2003, successfully launched its first human space flight which India has not yet embarked on. China launched its maiden mission to Moon in 2007, ahead of India, says a BBC article.
However, Isro chief says India is not competing with China in this. "Earth and Mars, based on their orbital geometry, come closer to each other in every 26 months so we had to capitalise at the earliest possible opportunity. If we missed this, we would have to wait for the next opportunity, which would come after 26 months. We are certainly not competing with any country, including China", said Radhakrishnan in his interview.
Nasa will support Isro to track the spacecraft, Isro chief said. "We have to continuously track the spacecraft. Besides our own ground station at Byalalu, near Bangalore, we would be taking the support of NASA's jet propulsion lab's deep space network and its three international ground stations at Goldstone, Madrid and Canberra".
(With agency inputs)