Las crónicas marcianas de la India

NUEVA DELHI – La noticia de que la sonda marciana Mangalyaan, lanzada por India el 5 de noviembre ya ha salido de la órbita de la Tierra y dejado atrás la Luna en camino a su destino final, a 400 mil millones de kilómetros, causó un alborozo temprano en los indios este fin de año. Las misiones espaciales se han convertido en motivo de orgullo para la India, que es ya uno de los principales países del mundo en materia de tecnología satelital y aeroespacial.

El Mangalyaan es el primer satélite interplanetario indio y se construyó enteramente en el país para la misión a Marte. Los científicos, todos educados en India, lo diseñaron y fabricaron en apenas 15 meses, un ritmo notablemente rápido para un país donde las demoras son moneda corriente y se bromea al respecto con expresiones como “la Hora Estándar de la India”. Y a un coste bastante bajo: menos de $73 millones en total, cerca de la quinta parte de lo gastado por los pocos otros países que se han propuesto explorar Marte. A pesar de que los indios suelen quejarse del carácter disfuncional del país, su infraestructura inadecuada, sus procesos industriales anticuados y la falta de continuidad de sus índices de manufactura, la India estuvo a la altura del reto.

Sin embargo, es demasiado pronto para celebrar. Hace cinco años la misión lunar del Chandrayaan también fue motivo de festejos. Aunque se esperaba que pudiera explorar la Luna durante dos años, la aeronave se dio por perdida tras 312 días. Si bien los científicos de la Organización India de Estudios Espaciales (ISRO) creen haber aprendido lecciones importantes de la experiencia, el fracaso parcial de esta misión todavía les obsesiona.

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