Before watching Akshay Kumar's Mission Mangal, a brief recap of India's historic Mangalyaan

FP Staff

Aug 14, 2019 13:48:59 IST

In 2014, India sent the Mars Orbit Mission (MOM) into the space, and became the first country to send a satellite to orbit the planet at its first attempt. The project was notably led by women scientists; as is India's second lunar probe Chandrayaan 2, which was launched last month, and is due to land on Moon in early September. The patriotic outburst, that followed on these successful space missions, has fueled Indian film industry to lean towards sci-fi dramas.

Starring and co-produced by Akshay Kumar, Mission Mangal is a fictionalised account of the Mangalyaan (Sanskrit for Mars Orbit Mission). It is a retelling of India's historic mission to the red planet, starring Taapsee Pannu, Vidya Balan, Sonakshi Sinha, Nithya Menen, and Kirti Kulhari, with HG Dattatreya and Sharman Joshi. Though not a relatively new attempt on the sci-fi genre for Bollywood, Mission Mangal is an enormous stride in exploring India's own space achievements, and hoping it to resonates with the public.

 Before watching Akshay Kumars Mission Mangal, a brief recap of Indias historic Mangalyaan

Vidya Balan and Akshay Kumar in a still from Mission Mangal

Ahead of the release of Mission Mangal on Independence Day, Firstpost recalls the events of India's historic budget-friendly Mars mission.


The success of Chandrayaan-1 set out the path for India's Space Research Organisation(ISRO) to Mars. Mangalyaan is lauded for being cheapest ever mission to Mars which a budget of ₹4.5 billion (₹450 crore), according to Business Insider. The primary objective of the mission was to develop an orbiter perform Earth-bound manoeuvres, cruise for 298 days, perform Mars orbit insertion, orbit around Mars, and most importantly, survive the journey. The secondary objective of the project was to study the planet, explore the dynamics of the upper atmosphere, escape volatile substances in the outer space, and measure effects of solar radiation and wind.

The Spacecraft

Mangalyaan took off from the Sriharikota, off India’s eastern coast on 5 November, 2013. The 3,000 lb (1,350 kg) spacecraft, including 852 kg (1,878 lb) of propellant, was designed, developed, and tested in Bangalore. The electric power of 840 watts was generated by three solar array panels. The colour cameras and scientific instruments, used to study the atmosphere of Mars, were developed at Ahmadabad. The bus of the spacecraft is a modified I-1 K structure and propulsion hardware configuration, similar to Chandrayaan-1, with specific improvements and upgrades needed for a Mars mission. The satellite structure is constructed of an aluminium and composite fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) sandwich construction.


On 19 October, 2013, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan announced that the launch had to be postponed by a week as a result of a delay of a crucial telemetry ship reaching Fiji. The launch was rescheduled for 5 November, 2013. ISRO's PSLV-XL placed the satellite into Earth orbit at 9:50 am UTC on the rescheduled date.

It was a year later, on 24 September, 2014, that Mangalyaan entered the orbit of Mars, making India the first country to have a successful Mars mission in the first attempt.

The Martian Orbit

"What is red, is a planet, and is the focus of my orbit?" That was Mangalyaan's first tweet on entering the Martian orbit on 24 September, 2014, accompanied with a picture.

Fun fact: It also greeted NASA's Mars Rover, Curiosity, saying "Howdy @MarsCuriosity ? Keep in touch. I'll be around."

Mars Colour Camera (MCC)

Close-up view of a portion of the gigantic Valles Marineris Canyon of Mars. Source: ISRO official website

Close-up view of a portion of the gigantic Valles Marineris Canyon of Mars. Source: ISRO official website

Manalyaan controllers at ISRO have subsequently published several photographs of Mars as by the Mars Colour Camera (MCC).

Success in MOM makes India the fourth space power after the US, Europe, and Russia to orbit or land on the red planet. The cost of the Indian effort is 1/10th of that of the NASA's MAVERN, mission that put a satellite into the orbit of Mars.

However, with these high-profile space missions to Mars and the moon, sci-fic genre is set to become a staple for Bollywood. In conversation to The Guardian, Vikram Malhotra, CEO of Abundantia Entertainment, told the youth of the country is constantly seeking for new themes in films, “There has been so much talk and discussion about India’s space programmes, and the achievements of our scientists that even the common man now wants to know more about this fascinating world. And on the big screen."

Updated Date: Aug 14, 2019 13:48:59 IST