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Mars Science

India Plans Mars Mission in 2013 171

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the offplaneting-development-proved-disastrous dept.
New submitter susmit writes with news of India's new goal for launching a satellite to Mars in 2013. From the article: "India plans to launch a mission to Mars next year, putting an orbital probe around the red planet to study its climate and geology, top space department officials said on Thursday. ... A 320-tonne Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket will be used to carry the orbiter spaceship, blasting off from the ISRO launch site at Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Another senior official at ISRO, requesting anonymity, estimated the cost of the mission at 4.0-5.0 billion rupees ($70-90 million dollars)."
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India Plans Mars Mission in 2013

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  • by dtml-try MyNick (453562) <litheran@@@gmail...com> on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:19AM (#40876051)

    Sending a probe to Mars without any electricity, damn..... We're really lagging behind in terms of innovation :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:20AM (#40876053)

    Cheap $70-80 million if they stick to the budget. Now I want to know why it costs 20-50 times more in our developed western nations.

    • I refuse to believe they can deliver a mars orbiter for 80 million USD.

      • by Jeremi (14640) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @03:56AM (#40876171) Homepage

        I refuse to believe they can deliver a mars orbiter for 80 million USD.

        I'm skeptical as well. I'd love to see them succeed, but I think it's more likely this will turn out like the $45 Aakash tablet computer [slashdot.org] did. Often when the price tag on something seems to good to be true, it is.

        • India is actually one place tablet computers have persisted to be popular (and way before the iPad too), this one just got attention because of what it was and what its mission was at the time. And it is a dissapointment that it failed, but getting tablets at sub $50 price points in India is easy. If you want some yourself you can find them on alibaba.com, but don't count on finding many that are actually -made- in India.

          Samples so nobody bitches:
          http://www.alibaba.com/product-gs/425363981/2012_PC_Tablet_7_ [alibaba.com]

        • by jep305 (1288822)

          "Often when the price tag on something seems to good to be true, it is."

          Yeah, like offshored software development.

          • by murdocj (543661)

            "Often when the price tag on something seems to good to be true, it is."

            Yeah, like offshored software development.

            So true... you can hire people for 1/3rd of what you'd pay locally, and you end up getting what you pay for.

        • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:54AM (#40876525) Journal

          but I think it's more likely this will turn out like the $45 Aakash tablet computer did. Often when the price tag on something seems to good to be true, it is.

           
          I've been watching India closely for the past 2 decades and the one conclusion that I got is that India likes to talk big, and after that, nothing
           
          Of the numerous projects that they've announced, India achieved only one - the Chandrayaan moon satellite project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-1 [wikipedia.org]
           
          As for the others, I'm not that confident that they can deliver, on time, and/or on budget
           

    • why it costs 20-50 times more ...

      Space missions (and pretty much everything that a government spends money on) cost as much as you've got. If you have a $1Bn budget, they'll cost $1Bn. Whether you get $1Bn of value from spending that (or whether your $70M Mars shot will do what it's supposed to) is an altogether different question.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        can they get a meaningful amount of weight out of orbit and en route to mars for that money even?

        this does sound awful lot like "hey there's a mars rover now getting a biiig biiig amount of press coverage, even more than our cricket team!. I know, let's announce one and watch money and publicity flow in!"

        • by amorsen (7485)

          can they get a meaningful amount of weight out of orbit and en route to mars for that money even?

          Not right now, but it is not completely impossible. Right now raw material and fuel cost is below 1% of mission cost (often much much less), so we are nowhere near the physical limits on launch costs.

          In fact, fuel is so cheap that if all a space elevator saves is fuel, it isn't worth building.

      • Re:Why so cheap (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kergan (780543) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @10:17AM (#40877393)

        It always rubs me the wrong way when government spending gets systematically and broadly dissed as inefficient.

        I've lived in a number of countries and, frankly, public entities seldom stroke me as materially more inefficient than large corporations. The difference is meaningful, inasfar as I've been experiencing it anyway, in only a few cases:

        The first and most important is when corruption is rampant. Eg. good luck finding a lost luggage in a sub-Sahara airport if you don't tip the employee; or spending less than a whole afternoon paying for a parking ticket in Mexico if you didn't get the memo that you should tip the cop who hands you the ticket in the first place. This is virtually non-existent in western countries.

        The second most important is the heightened awareness of and concern for the welfare of local communities and the environment, either because they like to get the job well done, as opposed to well enough, or due to public opposition. Eg. noone in his right mind would argue that bullet proof vests are wasteful spending for soldiers, irrespective of the subsequent PST costs; and a public entity would need to surmount a mountain of opposition before building a highway or setting train tracks in a wild life reserve. This is virtually non-existent outside of western countries.

        Another is silly procedures, but it's arguably not the public servants' fault, and large corporations are notoriously full of them too.

        Staff that doesn't give a shit about anything is yet another, but I found this to be mostly cultural: when mostly true, it also holds mostly true at the population level. This is particularly pronounced in developing countries.

        The next, last and arguably least important is when powerful public unions successfully bargained for lavish benefits. Eg. a public servant cannot get sacked in France even if he spends most of his day pretending to work. Frankly though, most public servants I've met or interacted with over the years were just as professional as the next guy working for a large corporation -- which is to say, not very, but being a public servant has little to do with it. The real difference is that you're forced to interact with public servants, and you typically do so in times of hardship. (If you ever had to deal with an unscrupulous insurance company, you probably know what I mean.)

        Your mileage varies per country, obviously. French public servants, for instance, are very self-entitled and often mocked by the French as the epitome of inefficiency; a quick tour in a Mexican administration, however, will make any French person (correctly) praise his home country's adminstration as one of the most efficient in the world. Much the same could be said of the UK and German ones, minus the public servants' attitude. The US one is competent by my standards, as is the Canadian one. Neither are very friendly nor helpful, but they get things done efficiently. The Mexican one, an absolute mess by any standard, actually shines when compared to the (understaffed [thehindu.com]) Indian one. And don't even get me started on African countries.

        Anyway, my point is this: mock your administration all you want; complain about its costliness; pinpoint its uselesness; but keep in mind that people in most other countries would envy it as a model of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

        There... I fed the troll.

        • by khallow (566160)

          It always rubs me the wrong way when government spending gets systematically and broadly dissed as inefficient.

          Why? It's not exactly a secret.

          I've lived in a number of countries and, frankly, public entities seldom stroke me as materially more inefficient than large corporations.

          In other words, public entities usually aren't much more inefficient than the fattest, slowest, most entrenched corporations out there. That sets the bar pretty high.

          Anyway, my point is this: mock your administration all you want; complain about its costliness; pinpoint its uselesness; but keep in mind that people in most other countries would envy it as a model of efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

          So we should be happy because it could be a lot worse? Again, you are setting very high expectations for government entities. I hope they can achieve them.

          • by Kergan (780543)

            I'd argue they aren't that bad in developed countries.

            In other words, public entities usually aren't much more inefficient than the fattest, slowest, most entrenched corporations out there. That sets the bar pretty high.

            Not saying that the bar is high. I find it awkwardly low too. Just saying that apples should be compared with apples -- or arguably with Apple, which reportedly managed to keep a start-up culture.

            So we should be happy because it could be a lot worse? Again, you are setting very high expectations for government entities. I hope they can achieve them.

            I suspect you don't even have the beginning of a clue of what interacting with a corrupt administration can be like. As a yard stick, consider that the UN and not-for-profits are happy when 25% of any foreign aid sent to some countries actually ends up where it

            • by khallow (566160)

              Once you've seen it, you'll readily accommodate yourself with a good enough/not too corrupt administration on a "could be hellishly worse" basis.

              No, that willingness to settle for something that isn't "hellishly worse" is part of what creates those bad governments.

          • by shaitand (626655)

            "In other words, public entities usually aren't much more inefficient than the fattest, slowest, most entrenched corporations out there. That sets the bar pretty high."

            If someone wants to privatize it is those fat entrenched slow corporations that they generally would be privatizing to. They are at least as inefficient as government.

            • by khallow (566160)

              If someone wants to privatize it is those fat entrenched slow corporations that they generally would be privatizing to. They are at least as inefficient as government.

              Well, keep in mind that a lot of government can just be ended without privatization. It wouldn't give advantage to political merchants, for example, if the government activity just ended rather than the funds be redirected to them.

              • by shaitand (626655)

                If the service is still going to be needed after the government stops providing it then it amounts to the same thing. Generally things being provided by government require large capital outlay meaning a large corp running them and if they don't, the nature of capitalism guarantees that it is just a matter of time before one or a small number of large megacorps dominate the area.

                Mostly it is all just a bunch of excuses around the conversation. Most people making this argument really just want to be able to p

        • by shaitand (626655)

          I actually agree. ANY large entity is inefficient be it private or public.

          For instance, in IT we often see large corporate branch offices. They'll have a cisco router and switch $5k and a T1 $600/mo with $1k installation in a branch office with three staff members. They'll have exacting standards for how they want this gear configured, port numbering, vlans, etc and they'll have higher level central IT staff configure the gear ($120) and then have some local contractor deploy it ($65). That is about $7k to

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Grayhand (2610049)

      Cheap $70-80 million if they stick to the budget. Now I want to know why it costs 20-50 times more in our developed western nations.

      Ah, because ours tend to actually make it to Mars. I can launch a Mars mission for a $1.98 it doesn't mean it'll actually reach Mars. The US spend billions reaching the Moon but other than one accident on the launch pad and one time we failed to land we made it there. It's one thing to say you are going to Mars but failing to achieve a lesser goal I have my doubts.

      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        They're not going to put a lander down. Saves heaps of cost.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by LifeIs0x2A (2615925)

      Because it's probably gonna be more than that and then I'm quite sure something is gonna fail somwhere along the way. Just a few days ago one third of the population of India has been without electricty for a few hours. How about the government invest their money into a stable power grid first.

      • by McGruber (1417641)

        Just a few days ago one third of the population of India has been without electricty for a few hours. How about the government invest their money into a stable power grid first.

        It is a good thing the US didn't listen to its citizens in California before launching its Mars missions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricity_crisis [wikipedia.org]

        • It is a good thing the US didn't listen to its citizens in California before launching its Mars missions:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricity_crisis [wikipedia.org]

          A demand supply gap was created by energy companies, mainly Enron, to create an artificial shortage.

          Doesn't sound like the problem here was a weak power grid. Have you ever been to India? If you look at the rural areas you would realize that the last thing the country needs is a space program. That might be good for prestige, but doesn't address any of their more immediate problems.

    • by wvmarle (1070040) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @05:09AM (#40876353)

      A large part of the cost may be due to accounting.

      They use an existing rocket; zero development cost there. While Nasa would probably either develop a new rocket just for that mission, and put all the cost of development on the Mars mission, so they could re-use the rocket later at much lower cost for projects they don't have budget for.

      And there are probably many more places were just accounting cost to one project or the other (little is developed exclusively for one project) can make or break a budget.

      • A large part of the cost may be due to accounting.

        They use an existing rocket; zero development cost there. While Nasa would probably either develop a new rocket just for that mission, and put all the cost of development on the Mars mission, so they could re-use the rocket later at much lower cost for projects they don't have budget for.

        This drivel is modded insightful? It's utter bullshit. For NASA, the money for developing a new booster and for running a planetary probe mission come out of two d

    • Because we actually make it there.

    • I wonder how much the salaries are for highly trained scientists in India is compared to the US? I assume relatively a lot for India, but I also suspect they have a lot of highly trained people that work for peanuts compared to USD (a la outsourcing). How much does the actual hardware really cost?
      • by oiron (697563)

        At ISRO? Peanuts!

        That is, when compared to the salary one would make by working (as a programmer, not a tech support guy) in the IT industry.

        On the other hand, all government scientists get a HELL of a lot of perks, and they get to do some really cool things. Also, when they get out of their government job, the salary they'd make in industry with that experience is maybe double the amount for another guy who's just working in the industry for the same number of years.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It doesn't cost 20-50 times as much, Mars Odyssey cost 3.6 times as much and after 11 years its still working fine. Don't turn Slashdot into a house of lie's young lady!

    • by Findeton (818988)

      It will actually cost $500 million or more and will be launched one or two years after the deadline. Just sit back and watch it happen.

    • by Megane (129182)

      Maybe they've budgeted all the savings into tech support.

      "I am very sorry sir, but I cannot continue helping you until you have first rebooted your orbiter."

    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Because we keep using our legacy contractors. You'll note that after Lockheed Martin's failed (miserably failed, I might add) x33, they weren't included, or even considered, for a Human rated space capsule this time around. While Boeing got a significant amount of funding for their CST-100 capsule, SpaceX got nearly the same funding as Boeing ($400+ million), which is a step in the right direction. The fact that SpaceX already has an unmanned rated capsule flying in space goes a long ways towards seeing th

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      Perhaps because NASA employees refuse to work for $2 a day?
  • Oh Great (Score:2, Funny)

    by thewils (463314)

    There'll most likely be a corner shop there for the next mission.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better that than a Wal-Mart.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      A call center. Holding 8 minutes every sentence is going to be a pain...
  • Hopefully that'll spur some congressional envy and NASA will get a bigger budget in 2014.
  • I didn't know that one could even think about thinking of doing something in aerospace when you're only given 1-2 years.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:34AM (#40876267)

    And in the meantime, they can't keep the electricity flowing across their country, and have no decent sewage system for 80% of their citizens.

    Something makes me think they should be paying a bit more attention to these issues....

    • On the other hand, the argument is presumably that a mission to Mars is probably more of an inspirational drive for upcoming scientists and engineers than building a boring old sewage system. If the figure quoted is truly correct, it's probably worth risking what is in the order of ~0.01% of GDP on something likely to spur a new generation of scientists and engineers and hence economic growth in the long term.

    • While you are correct you must also realize that rockets and outer space are big business and the scientific knowledge and engineering developments that come out of engineering and re-engineering the technology are very very valuable things. If they can get a mars probe up successfully at that price point they'll be securing a place for themselves in space business and technology for the next 20 years.

      And from another angle you must realize rural India isn't going to get modernized without massive financial

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        But they do get massive financial stimulus - from other countries in aid. Of course, most of that goes in someone's pocket [dailymail.co.uk] and not to the rural poor who need it. This is the great scandal of India, corruption is so rife its untrue.

        $80m is peanuts to them, when a leading industrialist is currently building a 27-story house [forbes.com] for himself, his wife and 3 kids, so I guess 2 stories for the servants, and 5 each. How will they cope?!

    • by bazorg (911295)

      I kind of suspect that the 2013 Mars missions was something they have been planning for a while, not as a week-long project that was about to be presented to the press when there was a major power failure. There's a lot of people in India, I'm sure they are not all involved in doing the same thing as a 1 000 000 000 people team...

    • yeah, and a paltry $80 million is going to fix all those problems, right?

    • by vinlud (230623)

      Not sure where you are from, but I remember my servers being inaccessible for days by a major state wide power problem in the 3rd world area named California only a few years ago

  • by kawabago (551139) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @04:53AM (#40876315)
    So am I.
  • But using Bhut Jolokia hot peppers as the fuel I have my doubts. Even with over a million Scoville rating I don't believe that they'll achieve low Earth orbit let alone Mars. Their program title "Asses of fire" does have a heroic ring to it. I do hope that even if the mission fails a new hybrid hot pepper will provide the thrust needed to reach Mars so India may land on Mars and be the first curry powered nation to break the Earthly bonds and land another planet!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not the one to usually complain about expensive science endeavors while other societal problems go unresolved. But I have visited India and seen the misery -- it's nauseating. What's more nauseating is how the local middle-class doesn't find it nauseating. They are seemingly completely untouched by the plight of the children they see every day on their commute.

    What a soulless nation. What is needed is a national program to eradicate poverty.

    • Oh yes and that can be easily done with all those funds coming from Indias income from exports of incandescent and flourescent light bulbs. Oh, what? LED you say? ... hmm, looks like India needs something else. What do all the successfull countries make their money off of? Oh yes, technology! What's a good program to develop a lot of technology and get a lot of international attention? Space!

      India does need a national program to end poverty, but they also need a national program that will secure the funds t

      • by Anonymous Coward

        yes but india does not even provide massive swaths of people a basic education. part of the reason china has advanced so fast is because even peasants in a remote backwater learn reading and math and the best ones can get to the universities. in india millions of people can't even read! i've seen them in america too. people who's wives can't even add and subtract, that would be embarrassing to like 90% of the world, even muslims would cringe at that, but for indian culture it's no problem. sure, the people

    • It is easy to eradicate poverty. They just need to stop breeding like rabbits and the problem will go away within 30 years.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Poverty didn't disappear with that "program" anywhere. It's the reverse that happened: as poverty receded, birth rates started to come down.

        The space program once united Americans behind a common banner. The Americans were shamed by the successes of the Soviet Union. The vehicle that rallied the Americans and pulled the challenging program through was the Federal Government. Only a functional government can work life-changing miracles like that.

        What India needs is a similar shame felt by the middle-class fo

  • This budget is hardly enough to launch a small research satellite around Earth. To launch a vehicle to Mars which will actually be useful, they need at least something in the order of $200M. That's the experience of other nations who have launched to Mars. In addition, It takes at least about five years to design and construct such a vehicle. To do it in less than two years is a sure recipe to failure.
    • This budget is hardly enough to launch a small research satellite around Earth.

      this is wrong. isro launched a moon satellite in 90 million usd. but i do agree that they will spend at leats 200mil for a mars mission. as with all government agency plans, the price goes up quite rapidly after the project is approved.
      also, nasa's incompetency does not indicate that it will take every other country 5 years to design and fabricate a mars orbiter.

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Saturday August 04, 2012 @07:36AM (#40876829)

    Unlike some other counties, they know how to use the metric system. ;)

    (j/k)

  • How may I be helping you with your spaceflight issue today?

  • India: world leader. (In misplaced priorities.)
  • If you guys are surprised by the low price tag of 90m USD for a mars mission, wait till you see the break down. 66% of it is for a dedicated powerplant for the mission control and an undersea power cable to Singapore for the back up power supply.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 04, 2012 @11:56AM (#40877885)

    Why does every post about India's space program always have the usual idiot posts?
    1. The unfunny posts about call centers / 7-11 / curries.
    2. The indignant posts about how the money could be better spent Helping the Poor.
    3. The armchair economist posts about the corruption/filthy roads/electricity shortages.

    Ok, we get it already. Indians are poor, corrupt and overstate their ambitions. You are all butt-hurt about your lost jobs. And ho, ho, they eat curries, and say "do the needful" when they answer your tech calls.

    Why can't everyone just appreciate another human endeavor into learning more about the universe we live in, instead of all this pettiness?

    Do we not all benefit from Chandrayaan's imagery?
    Didn't we detect the recent warming over Greenland using data from India's Oceansat?
    Why can't it just be about the science for once?

    • looking at how people living in their own poop just causes some quite strong feelings, seeing just another satellite in space not so much.
  • India keeps trying to put forth the trappings of wealth without actually having the wealth first. A rich country with a developed infrastructure and minimal poverty has excess wealth that it can spend on this kind of research. A space program is something a rich country develops with excess cash. Or they can show their wealth by regularly going on fabulously expensive foreign military (mis)adventures.

    India has a large GDP, [wikipedia.org] but its per-capita GDP, [wikipedia.org] the one that counts, is very low. 129th in the world, out

  • Charanjit Singh http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFrKHLjZtSM [youtube.com] when the ship takes off...

  • by 2100 [icarusinterstellar.org], it's all too slow, too slow, i want it now, in this lifetime please, i'm not sure if i'm gonna want to come back here anymore. I already posted a request to be stationed at the other side of the galaxy next life.

Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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