Speed Reads

Famous Firsts

India now has a spacecraft in orbit around Mars, too

It must be getting a little crowded in the Martian atmosphere. Two days after the U.S. spacecraft MAVEN entered orbit around the Red Planet, India successfully followed suit early Wednesday with its first deep-space satellite, Mangalyaan, formally called the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM). MOM's entry into orbit was flawless, Indian scientists in Bangalore said, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India has now "gone beyond the boundaries of human enterprise and innovation."

India's Martian mission places it in a rarified club — only the U.S., Russia, and Europe have successfully sent a spacecraft to Mars — and has a few other notable features: It was remarkably cheap, with a reported price tag of $74 million, and it makes India the first nation to reach Mars on its first attempt. NASA welcomed the Indian Space and Research Organisation (ISRO) into the club:

MOM launched from India's Bay of Bengal last November.