India’s £45M space mission
With a third of its people living in severe poverty, is it right for India to be allocating such a large budget to aeronautical development?
The ‘Mangalyaan’ or Mars Orbiter was launched on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, at Sriharikota, on the Andhra Pradesh coast on Wednesday November 6th.
The mission aims to reach the Red Planet in September 2014 and test the martian atmosphere for hydrogen and methane gases.
It's costing £45 million, which is a low budget when compared to the United States’ ‘Curiosity’ mission to Mars, which launched in 2011 at a cost of some £1.56 billion.
For India, the mission is about proving the value of its indigenous rocket and instrument technology to inspire its own scientists and open a new frontier on infinitely cheaper space missions.
However, India has faced criticism, where commentators have questioned why the money has not been spent on improving poor sanitation and tackling the struggles of millions living in the slums within its own country.
Critics have also said that the mission as a waste of resources for a developing country and argued that ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) should focus on developing its next generation of satellite launchers to compete in the lucrative commercial sector.
But officials at the Mangalyaan launch site said the mission will inspire a new generation of Indian space scientists and establish the country as a real power in space research.