Saturday, November 15, 2008

Chandrayaan-I

India's lunar orbiter and lunar impact lander have been successful so far. Lots of pictures and other details are available on the bharat-rakshak forum. A very detailed presentation of the mission given at the Tata Institute is on the web, here.

One thing to note: ISRO chairman quoted by the press:

""We have also emerged as a low-cost travel agency to space," referring to the mission's 80-million dollar tag."

Asia Times has this:

" Chandrayaan-1 cost US$74 million, ...... Moreover, $20 million of the $74 million Chandrayaan-1 cost went into valuable reusable infrastructure, such as building a trio of Earth-stationed trackers of moon-mission data - the Deep Space Network, the Spacecraft Control Center and the Indian Space Science Data Center, all located at Byalalu, near Bangalore in the south."

Chandrayaan carries two NASA instruments. You can read about one of them here. The claim on the bharat-rakshak pages is that the NASA budget for these is greater than the $80 million price tag of the launch.

It will be interesting to see if the economics of space exploration can truly be changed. Time will tell. In any case it is reassuring that come what may, the human exploration of space will continue.

PS: I'm an advocate of a vigorous program of unmanned, scientific missions in space. Humans in space is a little less interesting to me; it should proceed, but not by sacrificing unmanned exploration.

2 comments:

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

We should feel proud about the Chandrayaan mission but not about its low cost. We underpaid our scientists.

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