India's Mars Orbiter Mission Overcomes Engine Issues - Remains on Track for Mars

  • Nov 12, 2013 11:09pm GMT

India's ambitious mission to Mars faced a scare on Tuesday as the spacecraft encountered an engine failure while attempting to raise the altitude of its orbit and velocity as it orbits Earth. The higher altitude and speed is needed for a "slingshot" maneuver to transit from Earth to the red plant.

The Indian Space and Research Organization said the mission was back on track after controllers were able to compensate for the malfunction and bring the spacecraft to the correct orbit.

India has taken some criticism from Western journalists for undertaking an ambitious space program when their country faces many financial and social challenges at home. It should be noted, however, that Isro's budget for this Mars mission is a mere $74 million USD - an absolute bargain compared to NASA's $671 million USD budget for the NASA MAVEN Mars mission that will launch later this month.

The road to Mars is a difficult one - almost half the missions to the plant have ended in failure. If India is to succeed, they would join an elite group that has been able to pull it off, including the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency. China and Japan have both had failed attempts.

And in the end, if India can lead the way for a low-cost solution to explore space - that's something that benefits all mankind.