With an ambition to be full-fledged space faring nation with a space program that only costs 1 billion US dollars a year, is India’s latest mission to Mars a blatant attempt to beat Mainland China to the red planet?
By: Ringo Bones
Critics and detractors might be pointing to the fact that for a country that can even hardly lift a significant portion of its citizens living less than 3 US dollars a day and mired in poverty shouldn’t be involving themselves in space exploration, but India’s latest mission to Mars is set to prove the detractors of its fledging space program wrong – as the recent interview with Kopillil Radhakrishnan, head of India’s Space Research Organization aims to prove that India’s poverty related problems can be solved with the science learned from the country’s ongoing endeavor. With a long term goal to solve the country’s chronic food, potable water and other vital resource shortage via its latest space exploration and related science and technology endeavors, India is indeed taking whatever advantage to be a both a technologically advanced nation and one that is capable of meeting the vital needs of its own citizens.
At a budget of 1 billion US dollars a year – India spends around 1/60th a year less than NASA spends annually in space exploration. And the 74-million US dollar (4.5 billion rupee) Mangalyaan (Mars craft in Hindi) spacecraft costs about one-tenth of a typical Mars bound spacecraft that NASA has been sending to the red planet since the late 1990s. If all goes to plan, India’s Mars probe should be orbiting around the red planet by September 2014 – making India the fourth space faring nation / conglomerate to send a space-probe to the Mars – i.e. The United States, Russia (former Soviet Union) and the European Union. Even though Mainland China had been sending manned craft to orbit for about a decade now, the Beijing government seems to have no plans at the moment to send a space-probe to Mars. Could an Indian astronaut beat the People’s Republic of China in the Sino-Indian Space Race to Mars?