Un mare pas pentru India – spre Marte

India a lansat cu succes o navă spaţială către Marte, devenind a patra putere spaţială – după SUA, Rusia, UE şi China – cu o asemenea performanţă. Principala sa rivală spaţială este China vecină, care şi-a lansat deja propria sa misiune către Planeta Roşie, dar cu ajutorul lansatorilor Rusiei.

În India se discută aprins rostul acestei ambiţii politico-tehnologice, programele spaţiale fiind foarte costisitoare pentru bugetele naţionale. Investiţiile în tehnologie, fie şi spaţială, generează însă dezvoltare orizontală şi de durată – şi, deloc în ultimul rând, mândrie naţională, greu de măsurat în bani, dar foarte “productivă”.

India launches spacecraft to Mars
Nisha Agrawal, chief executive of Oxfam in India, told the BBC: “India is home to poor people but it’s also an emerging economy, it’s a middle-income country, it’s a member of the G20. What is hard for people to get their head around is that we are home to poverty but also a global power. We are not really one country but two in one. And we need to do both things: contribute to global knowledge as well as take care of poor people at home.”

Mars mission chief scientist interviewed
Whilst NASA is cutting its space budget, India has launched a mission to Mars. What is the motivation behind India’s Mars Orbiter Mission, the 300 million kilometre interplanetary expedition? Jitendra Goswami is the lead scientist of India’s first mission to Mars. Before the launch, he spoke to Justin Rowlatt and an audience in Ahmedabad, India about space science and earthly economics.

India’s space-based ‘revolution’
Yogita Limaye from the BBC’s India Business Report spoke to K Radhakrishnan, chair of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) – the country’s space agency – about his hopes for the mission.

Why India has to be in the space programme is a question that has been asked over the last 50 years. The answer then, now and in the future will be: “it is for finding solutions to the problems of man and society.” And in this area, India has become a role model for the whole world. Let me talk in terms of numbers.

We spend in India about a billion dollars for the space programme. If we look at the central government expenditure, we spend 0.34% of its budget for the space programme. This goes primarily for building satellites in communications and remote sensing and navigation for space applications. Nearly 35% of it goes on launch vehicle development and about 7-8% goes on the science and exploration programme. So the Mars mission we’re talking about today is part of that 8% of the 0.34% of Indian central government expenditure. And if you look at the benefit that the country has accrued over the years, it has surpassed the money that has been spent in terms of tangible and intangible benefits.

[This can be expressed in terms of] the advantage that the people have got, the fishermen have got, the farmers have got, the government bodies have got for informed decision-making, the support the country has got for disaster management and by providing a communication infrastructure for this country using the INSAT satellites. Today we have nearly 10 communication satellites and 10 remote sensing satellites in orbit. This is a great revolution that has taken place over these last 50 years in the country by a meagre expenditure that has been put into the space programme.

How the Mars mission helps India

“If we can’t dare to dream big it would leave us as hewers of wood and drawers of water! India is today too big to be just living on the fringes of high technology.”