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Space Science

India Moves To Put Its First Man In Space By 2016 242

An anonymous reader writes with this snippet from the International Business Times: "India plans to launch its first manned space mission in 2016, moving to become the fourth nation to put a man in space. Space scientists and senior officials of the state-run ISRO are preparing a pre-project report to build the infrastructure and facilities for the mission, estimated to cost a $2.76 billion. 'We are planning a human space flight in 2016, with two astronauts who will spend seven days in the Earth's lower orbit,' Radhakrishnan told reporters at ISRO headquarters in Bangalore. In September, India's Chandrayaan-1 satellite discovered water on the moon, boosting India's credibility among established space-faring nations"
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India Moves To Put Its First Man In Space By 2016

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  • Good for them! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Timewasted ( 1731254 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:21PM (#30923594)
    It is a good thing (IMHO) to see more countries developing their own space programs to send their own astronauts to space. To my knowledge, only Russia, U.S. and China have programs that have done so.

    Competition always fosters excellence in all areas of academics & sciences.
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:31PM (#30923878) Homepage Journal

    Well, India is an economy that needs access to space. There's no question of that. Between communication and remote sensing, space is critical to India's long term economic development -- and lifting people out of poverty.

    The question is whether it is a good investment, when they can rely on the US and Europe -- at least for non-manned access to space. There is is India's tradition of non-alignment to consider. It is attractive not to be dependent on great powers for something so important. Also, expecting an investment in space to pay off in the short term is unreasonable. Twenty years off India might well become a dominant player in the commercialization of space.

    But why manned? If people were computers, it would make no sense. But we're not. We have these irrational emotions that have to be played to get the most out of us. There is something exciting about joining the club of "spacefaring nations", more exciting than putting clever little robots in space. I can see Japanese getting inspired by that, but Japanese engineers are an unique breed I think. Once I saw a Japanese engineer give a presentation about the fuzzy logic algorithm he'd used to control the agitator in a washing machine. We're talking that thing that sticks up in the middle of the washing machine and swishes back and forth. It only has one freaking degree of freedom, and this guy was waxing so poetic about it that he was moved to the brink of tears.

    Right then and there I resolved never to invest in an American company that made washing machines.

  • by lgw ( 121541 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:50PM (#30924258) Journal

    You joke, but this is a strong sign of world leadership in science and engineering moving to India. Of course, it's easy to talk about a space program, and the US may return to funding space exploration with the next president (or even the next congresss), but still - it's a powerful sign. Troublesome or hope-inspiring depending on where you live, I guess, but I'm thrilled to see any country showing some vision.

    Sadly, putting a man in orbit is more of a statement of a nation's abilities to land a warhead anywhere it chooses than necessarily it's commitment to space exploration, but I'll take what I can get!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:52PM (#30924306)
    From an industry point of view, 2016 is not a long way off. There is a huge amount of necessary infrastructure -- not as much as we use, but a lot nevertheless. They already have the launcher and the launch site. But they will need a capsule, reentry technology, training for engineers and (*)nauts. It's not as easy as it looks ;) And the ISRO installation I visited was very middle-aged dominated; apparently not a lot of younger people are interested in space with the tech boom there. Chandraya'an-1 was a limited success due to political pressure to launch which impacted their testing schedule. Hopefully they have learned that lesson from us. But I would not be surprised if some of their tasks were outsourced to Europe or the US.
  • 3 cheers for India! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @04:53PM (#30924320)

    Let's hope they can make something sustainable and profitable (Hint: Manned space-based low earth orbit solar power stations are where the money is going to be guys).

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @05:39PM (#30925236)
    Maybe it's time to realize that manned spaceflight (and even most probe exploration) is just a gigantic money sink with no payoff aside from PR and bragging rights.
  • by geekpowa ( 916089 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @07:05PM (#30926914)
    Show me a skilled Indian engineer and probability is quite high that they are presently living in a developed nation.

    Nations like India suffer from significant brain drain. Majority of people skilled and motivated enough are either preoccupied with immigrating to greener pastures if they haven't done so already.

    What is left behind is a a workforce skewed towards young, inexperienced people, largely emitted from the burgeoning 6 month short courser industry.

    There is definitely a substantial difference in software quality that correlates based on the nation where the software house is based (but doesn't correlate to the nationalities of the staff in that house).

    Cultural considerations also weigh in. Indian professional culture takes politics and hierarchies to a whole new level. As a straight talking engineer, trying to fit into the professional culture in India is exceedingly frustrating to say the least. Most business operations do not plan ahead at all - and are only interested in taking the next immediate step and doing it at absolute minimum cost (time and money). And when it all falls in a heap - they all just pick up the phone and yell at one another until the poor blokes at the bottom of the pile end up working for about 3 days straight without sleep a duct tape an interim solution that always becomes the semi permanent solution. Few weeks later - rinse and repeat. Hardly a professional environment that is conductive for quality engineering.

    I've done alot of work for state run telecommunications company over there. That the state run space agency is having so much success completely baffles me. Maybe there are actually good state institutions in India after all.

  • by ubermiester ( 883599 ) * on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @07:28PM (#30927244)
    So what you're saying is that its the US vs China/India? Probably not the best way to look at things if you want growth in those nations to continue. For the people of both nations, I am very happy that so many have been pulled out of poverty in the past few decades. I hope it continues unabated until everyone in the world has a reasonable standard of living. And to the parent's rather crude comments about call-centers, I agree that it is demeaning and arrogant. That said, I'd like to point out that the ONLY reason China and India have anything like a real economy at this point is that US (and to some degree EU) consumers went into heavy debt to buy all those US-branded, Indian/Chinese-made toys, electronics, textiles, etc. Should the US and/or Europe decide that unfettered globalization is not in its best interest after all (already happening), both China and India would be cut off from by far the largest market in the world (US=14 trillion, China=4 trillion). And if you think Europe (13 trillion), with its heavy dependence on exports and long history of cultural kinship will side with China, think again. The reason outsourced production has been tolerated (barely) in the US is because reducing labor costs by many fold (i.e., going from a $25/hr US worker to a $2/hr Indian/Chinese worker) means dramatically lower prices for consumers. When prices are getting lower, it's not so bad that your wages aren't getting any higher (a trend that has become more and more obvious to the average US worker). But now that the US has started to notice that price drops are no longer enough to offset wage stagnation plus inflation, tolerance is waning. More and more, businesses are being criticized for offshore production, and though no one is talking about tariffs yet, wait until there are two or three years of minimal job growth in the US while China/India continues to pour cheap exports into the US market. Again I say that I am glad for both nation's success and I wish them more of it. But to say that India has "started turning a hugely populated and impoverished country around using the latest opportunities afforded to them by technology" without also mentioning that the US a) created most of the technology India has been using, and b) is China's and India's single biggest market (and in the case of India, it's biggest benefactor) is ignorant or arrogant or both. China and India do not buy it's their own stuff, the US and Europe do. And when they do start consuming their own stuff, they will face all the same problems of more mature economies - higher taxes, labor laws, safety litigation, national unions, etc. And since growth in China (and to a lesser degree in India) has occurred so far without any of the political growth that a modern economy requires, their problems are going to be far more acute and probably fraught with great danger. And...

    people like you sit back on the Apollo moon landing's laurels and fiddle while Rome burns

    ??? Mars missions? GPS? Comm satellites? Space Shuttle? ISS? Apollo was a military exercise, in spite of its trappings as a peace mission. The US would and could put a Starbucks on Pluto if it was in its immediate national interest. The same cannot be said of either India or China. They are just now reverse engineering US (and Russian) technology to do things done with room-size computers 50 years ago. Where do you think India and China got their rocket/computing/communications technology in the first place? And what's burning exactly? Also...

    What's the USA doing? Still putting out fires in Mesopotamia

    First, I remind you that both India and China have benefited enormously from the energy excesses of the US and Europe during the 20th century. There would be no US market for Chinese/Indian goods/services without the West's exploitation of the Middle East. In fact, the reluctance of both nations to sign on to any binding climate resolutions is based mainly on the argument that they should be allowed

  • by Guppy ( 12314 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2010 @10:57PM (#30929074)

    It is a common error to delude oneself into believing the trappings of power and strength are power and strength themselves. You see it all the time, when folks fritter away their home equity loans on big-vroom SUVs and fancy appliances, allowing ourselves the delusion (for a temporary while) that we've still "got it made", as long as they have these things around them. In truth, had we the wisdom to forgo these external symbols of a comfortable existence, the American Dream would be much more alive today.

    I perceive the response to the U.S. withdrawl from manned space exploration in much the same way. "Asia is taking the lead because they're still launching Spam-in-a-Can into space! Therefore, we need to launch more Spam-in-a-Can, and it will make us stronger!" I find there's a certain cargo-cult mistaking of which was cause, and which was effect. In the past, we have had a great deal of technological innovations associated with the space exploration program -- but it is a mistake to think because we're launching rockets we're driving innovation. It is was exactly the other way around; because we had a such strong base in engineering and science we were able to create the technologies to launch those rockets.

    China and India's increasing economic and technological competence are what have allowed them to take the lead now, and it's a mistake to think that we can stay ahead if we just keep up with appearances. We can play mid-life crisis and blow our remaining resources on the equivalent of a fancy sports car, and make-believe we're still a studly, vigorous nation. But to the rest of the world, we just look increasingly ridiculous.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.