National Geographic : 2017 Aug
34 national geographic • august 2017 By Sam Howe Verhovek Photographs by Vincent Fournier TeamIndus, India Weighing in at just under 17 pounds—but carrying the pride and hopes of a nation on its spindly frame—the Indian team’s rover, code-named ECA, undergoes testing in Bangalore. A large helium balloon attached to it simulates the moon’s gravity, which is one-sixth that of Earth. The youthful Indian engineers took their seats, a bit nervously, in a makeshift conference room inside a cavernous former car-battery warehouse in Bangalore. Arrayed in front of them were several much older men and women, many of them gray-haired luminaries of India’s robust space program. The first Asian space agency to send an orbiter to Mars, it also nearly tripled a previous world record by launching 104 satellites into orbit in a single mission this past February. The object of everyone’s attention was a small rolling device barely the size of a microwave oven. Again.