Indian media applaud Mars mission launch

Indians celebrate the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission in Calcutta on November 5, 2013. India has been celebrating the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission at a rally in the eastern city of Calcutta

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The successful launch of India's Mars mission has been covered extensively by the Indian media and many people have taken to social media sites to applaud Indian space scientists on their achievement.

"A day after the last of Diwali rockets was fired in this part of the country, 'the big one' blasted off from the first launch pad in Sriharikota on Tuesday afternoon, firing the ambition of a nation, and the imagination of many others," says the lead story on The Times of India website.

"About 90 minutes after a drizzle raised minor concerns about weather among lay people, the 44.4m PSLV-C25 carrying in its head India's first Mars orbiter, lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. Drowning the cheers at the mission control, about 7km away, and the nearby media centre, the rocket rose to the sky with a roar, spewing fire and smoke. Soon it disappeared into the clouds," the paper says.

A report in the Hindustan Times says Mangalyaan - which means "Mars craft" in Hindi - "laden with Isro's hopes of a successful maiden Mars mission" rocketed into space from Sriharikota spaceport, beginning a 300-day journey to study the Martian atmosphere.

"The golden-coloured probe, about the size of a small car, was hurriedly assembled and is being carried by a rocket much smaller than American or Russian equivalents," the paper says.

The chief of Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) K Radhakrishnan congratulated his scientists for the orbiter's launch but said a "long and difficult voyage has just begun", the report added.

A report on the CNN-IBN website says if the mission is successful, it will be "a symbolic coup over China and Japan" as it will make India the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet.

NDTV.com says that "scientists at Isro exhaled only after the satellite separated from the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket, 2700 seconds or about 45 minutes after launch and entered the earth's orbit".

'A proud moment'

Meanwhile, activists from the ruling Congress party have celebrated the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission at a rally in the eastern city of Calcutta and congratulatory messages have been pouring in from India's top leaders with PM Manmohan Singh describing it as "the most complex space mission of the country".

"I wish the Isro scientists all the best for the delicate next steps in this ambitious and long mission to Mars which will be the most significant milestone in our space programme and I remain confident that they will do the country proud," Mr Singh said in a statement.

"It is a proud moment for the nation and we all pray for the Mission's success," opposition Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi wrote on Twitter.

Another senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "Thanks to our scientists for successful launch of #Mangalyaan. India is proud of you."

However, there have been some critical voices too.

In an opinion piece titled Why Mars? in The Indian Express, Nasa scientist Amitabha Ghosh says "Isro should explore new frontiers, not replicate what's been done by others".

"If successful, Mangalyaan will replicate what Nasa accomplished in the 1960s and 1970s. While this is admirable, given that very few nations have successfully orbited Mars, it would hardly be a novel accomplishment in the world of technology. Isro need not recreate what has already been done. To be relevant, it should chart its own unique trajectory of frontline discoveries that will leave an imprint on space science and technology," Mr Ghosh writes.

In the run-up to the launch, critics had also questioned the necessity of the mission with some saying the money could have been used to lift millions out of poverty.

But on Tuesday, many reports are emphasising the fact that India's mars mission is a "low-cost" one.

"The total cost of the project is 450 crore rupees (4.5bn rupees; $73m; £45m), less than a sixth of the amount earmarked for a Mars probe set to be launched by Nasa in 13 days time," the NDTV said in a report.

"Did you know, in dollar terms, the entire Isro Mars Mission cost less than the Commonwealth Games 2010 opening ceremony," tweeted author Chetan Bhagat.

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