"In November, India took the next step in their space program by launching their Mangalyaan Mars orbiter. The orbiter won't arrive for a while yet, but they've managed to get some public attention for a different reason: the fact that the entire mission costs only 75 million dollars, substantially less than the budget for the hit movie 'Gravity.'
While the question of wages is bound to come up (it was only 15% of the budget of the project), I think we can all agree that bringing down the cost of interplanetary space travel to a level attainable by the ultra-rich is a good step forward."
...the time for crowing will be if/when the mission objectives are met. Still, it's certainly an achievement to get to the starting line.
Yes and No.
The fact that they can *get* something up into space for a total budget of $75 million is a pretty outstanding fact in itself.
Having said that, it's not a true $75 million. That money isn't taking into account R&D/Work done prior to this. By that I mean they had already spent/bought much technology relating to rockets and the like. I don't want to take away from the fact, but the headline reads a bit sound-bitey. That's like me getting a cubesat, paying $100k for it to be stuck into someone else's rocket and blasted into space - then claiming that I got a satelite up for $100K.
The annual Indian space budget is actually around a billion dollars. This figure of $75 million seems to be some cherry-picking of the accounting books.
Yes, the R&D work, done by American, Russian, and ESA are a huge HUGE step up for India, as are the years of work developing the (now) off the shelf computers, and hardware that can be pressed into service for this task.
But as China found out recently when Jade Rabbit simply died with no definitive cause, getting off the ground, and, I dare say, getting landed is only a tiny portion of the problem.
We should wait and see if the Indian craft is still operational when it gets through a couple years worth of nice hard radiation. Will anything still work?
But I don't begrudge them the use of the technology and the knowledge hard won by the US and Russia for Mars missions. After all, is that not how it is supposed to work?
Mankind progresses not by re-inventing everything with each generation, but by building upon the works of the past with the knowledge gained in the past.
It would perhaps be better if India coordinated their efforts to fill voids in the systems already in place. After all another mediocre camera orbiting the planet may not be what is needed. Even by India.
But there is bound to be some meaningful way they can contribute to the world effort and get something of value in return.
except you can't really build off of previous work unless it is declassified and released to the public. space knowledge, even simple stuff, can not be exported to other countries, or published, without extremely harsh treatment from the u.s. govt.this is why you see very slim cooperation between esa, nasa, russian, space programs. it may look like cooperation from the outside, but everyone is absolutely restricted from sharing even simple data.there are documented basic interfaces between systems, which is how a russian rocket can launch an american satellite. but that's it for data sharing.
Quote: space knowledge, even simple stuff, can not be exported to other countries, or published, without extremely harsh treatment from the u.s. govt.
Now that is simply not true. NASA (and people who work for NASA) are one of the biggest publishers of scientific papers in multiple branches of science.
Seriously do you think the ISS would remain functional without massive cooperation and data sharing?
NASA's Policy is clearly spelled out:http://www.nasa.gov/open/plan/science-data-access. html [nasa.gov]http://science.nasa.gov/earth-science/earth-scienc e-data/data-information-policy/ [nasa.gov]
European Space Agency has just about all their Earth data on line:https://earth.esa.int/web/guest/data-access/how-to -access-eo-data/earth-observation-data-distributed -by-esa [esa.int]
Russia? Well, I don't read Russian so I can't comment.
well i should not have said 'simple stuff'. how about 'space stuff'. maybe i consider the classified stuff 'simple', which was incorrect.
i was not referring to published information. yes, of course, nasa publishes a lot of space data. do you have any idea how well that is scrutinized before it gets published? there are layers of people that have to sign off everything that gets published. so yes, the stuff that is published is 'space stuff' but well scrubbed.
the real 'meat' of space exploration is held tightly to the chest by everyone at nasa and other space companies. i've been in it and i've been through the export/publishing process. it's not fun and the real cool stuff is not released in any form. too bad, actually.
now the interface information can flow freely between countries and companies. i can say to russia, "we have 10 12mm bolts for you to connect to and here is their layout pattern and you tighten them to 20 ft/lbs". but, i can't tell them why we have 10 bolts. or why they're 12mm bolts. or why you need to tighten them to 20 ft/lbs. or why that particular layout pattern. it's quite maddening.
What?! So their Germans are better than our Germans?! ;)
I keep hoping for a new space race, but if even China doesn't cause a reaction, I'm not sure what will.
When will I be bombarded with ads for space vacation?
>> bombarded with ads for space vacation
Spam in a tube?
Yes, a new space race would be good. But I think the next big space race will be privately funded. NASA and other agencies created the tech, now private companies can run with it. Dawn of a new era? I hope so.
As for the cost, I think the headline is a bit sensationalistic. Gravity made in India wouldn't of cost Gravitys budget.
(offtopic) Good job on the new site. I tried Beta, I hated the page filling pictures, immense white spaces and especiallyreading comments thatgot more difficultto read with everyreply.
I prefer cooperation to competition.
As to TFS, Gravity may have been more expensive but it paid off in spades. Lets hope India's orbiter does, as well.
OTOH 2001: A Space Odyssey cost less than the orbiter (although I can't find the figures) and was initially a box office flop.
You'll see the ads when Virgin Galactic finishes tests and goes online. I wish I had a spare $200k.
To be fair, it was international competition and politics, not cooperation, that got people into space and landed them on the moon. Obviously you need some level of cooperation within a large enough entity to make it work (e.g. large contractors within the US building different parts of the project), and cooperation has resulted in things like the ISS, but competitive tribalism drives people emotionally in a way cooperation can't.
Well, yes, competetion got us to the moon, but cooperation got us a big permanent space station. How long did MIR last?
Mir lasted 10 years, Skylab just over 6 years.
The ISS is not "permanent", it was only recently that they announced discussions and funding to keep it up and running past 2020 [space.com].
In any event, the longevity of the ISS that in no way negates the idea that competition between peers did and can do a lot in a much shorter period of time.
Note that its in a race with MAVEN, and MAVEN is expected to win by about 48 hours, so you can expect lots more press coverage of MAVEN, at least in the USA. Also lets just be honest, MAVEN has about six times the payload and although "mass of experiment" is not the best metric of coolness, MAVENs simply has a lot more "stuff" so its more likely to discover something cool. Statistically at least one of the two is going to fail, so at least we'll have something.
The race has to do with ideal orbital transfers and stuff, its not some pointless political thing although you do have to wonder that MAVEN just had to be first LOL.
"Statistically at least one of the two is going to fail"
Statistically, both will fail at some point.
True enough. One of the two will fail before meeting mission objectives would be more accurate.
Some mars missions haven't failed yet, although eventually they will fail...
"On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero."
"... the mission will explore the Red Planet's upper atmosphere, ionosphere and interactions with the sun and solar wind"
Yes, its a cool mission. Aside from the obvious scientific results, it seems impossible to avoid improving aerobraking knowledge by studying the upper atmosphere and they're planning these crazy "deep dip" near re-entry maneuvers to gather even more data.
NASA needs more information about aerobraking, they've already done plenty of experimental lithobraking trials.
I will use ant.
"... I think we can all agree that bringing down the cost of interplanetary space travel to a level attainable by the ultra-rich is a good step forward."
Is this editorial sarcasm? Or did the poster mean attainable by those other than the ultra-rich.
I often entertain the idea that we live in a simulation, and that in the *real* world we are playing a videogame and forgot about our real lives while in our incubators, or our brains completely virtualized.
Then I think about this world, and how we might soon face these possibilities to 'sink further into the matrix.'Then I get a happy thought when I realize that the people whom might first get lost would be the ultra rich.
possibilities to 'sink further into the matrix.'
A reality-is-fake SF film from 1999, yes.The Matrix, no. (Not eXistenZ, either.)Here's the reference you were looking for. [wikipedia.org]
Will they be on the first or second rocket? [wikia.com]
With dual two hundred watt class traveling wave tubes, I'd like to see it brought down to a level attainable by amsat.org. I'd be happy with just a geosync boost much less interplanetary. Rumor has it AO-40's little taxi ride was about five million bucks (admittedly awhile ago) so we're only about an order of magnitude away from the first ham radio satellite orbiting Mars...
Re-read a couple of times to see if it should have read Billion... To put it into perspective, that budget would get you less than 0.5 km of the 140km proposed London to Birmingham (UK) High Speed Rail link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Speed_2 [wikipedia.org]
If I was a mega millionaire and they were both Kickstarter projects I know which one I would support
As one of the editors of this piece, I took it to mean that the ultra-rich could sponsor their own private space ventures. But I could be wrong, and didn't want to change the thought of the author too much from the original.
I guess the point is that you can get price down "to a level attainable by the ultra-rich" if part of your strategy is to get woefully underpaid third world labor to do the brunt of the work for you...
I don't think it's sarcasm. I've heard this comparison before in discussions ofspaceflight cost. Most spaceflight requires a government for funding. Even though$75 million is a figure limited to the ultra-rich, it's a figure that some individualscan afford to spend. That makes it the first step down on the expense ladder.
I think it says something unfortunate about our society, that we put so much more in the way of resources into movies than into space exploration.
One thing it says is "no time for patience!" The ROI for a movie is relatively instantaneous.
"I think it says something unfortunate about our society, that we put so much more in the way of resources into movies than into space exploration."
Yes, but really it could not be any other way. Comparing Mass media meant for consumption by millions to scientific endevours that only a few will fully utilize the results of (not refering to any new technologies that may come of such mission and result in consumer products) is kind of apples and oranges.
But, I agree with the idea that modern society places so little value in pure science.
But we don't. Compare the budgets of the world's space agencies to the budgets of film studios around the world.
I think it says something unfortunate about our society, that we put so much more in the way of resources into movies than into space exploration.But we don't. Compare the budgets of the world's space agencies to the budgets of film studios around the world.
Wait, what? Why don't you compare them? (or if you have, and came to a radically different conclusion than I did, please share...)
NASA's budget [wikipedia.org] is about 18 billion.
I know that movie studios do exist to make a profit, so the budgets (which you reference) should be lower than the revenue. However, I didn't find suitable information on budgets (AFAIK, such information is not generally publicized in any form, and I didn't find any estimates in a few minutes searching), so I looked at gross revenues.
In 2012, the US box-office gross [the-numbers.com] for the biggest major film studio, Sony, was 1.8 billion; dividing by their market share for the total yields 10.8 billion. However, partway through 2012, Sony announced [deadline.com] that their worldwide gross was over 4 billion, 1.6 billion domestic and 2.4 billion overseas -- if the same trend applies for other studios (that overseas income is about twice domestic gross income), then the US movie industry takes in well over 20 billion, perhaps 30 billion in box-office revenue. That's not counting Bluray/DVD sales.
It's very hard to see an argument in those numbers that, as you imply, the budgets of the world's space agencies exceed the budgets of the world's film studios. Certainly it doesn't seem likely to be true for the US, and there are many nations that have film industries (smaller than Hollywood, to be sure) but don't have any space agency at all.
And, if you refer to what GP actually said, "that we put so much more in the way of resources into movies", I think gross income is the right measure. The dollars we spend on entertainment, whether they ultimately go to cover the expenses of making a movie, the expenses of running a theater, or to pad any number of pockets along the way, do represent real resources that we as a society have chosen to direct to entertainment rather than exploration.
You're comparing one country's space program (US) with that country's film industry, when there are a lot of other spacefaring countries and a lot of countries that make films; India and China come to mind, both make a lot of movies and both have space programs. Then there's Russia, who afaik has no film industry but we need them to launch astronauts to the ISS. What's Russia's budget?
You're comparing one country's space program (US) with that country's film industry, when there are a lot of other spacefaring countries and a lot of countries that make films;
Yes -- I made the comparison for the country with by far the largest space budget. Check it out [wikipedia.org], NASA's budget is roughly equal to Roskosmos, ESA, JAXA, and the French and German agencies all combined, and as such represents nearly half of the global total.
India and China come to mind, both make a lot of movies and both have space programs.
Their space programs both have budgets of about 1.3 billion USD.
I'm unsure of the dollar sizes of their movie industries (they do have a lot of output, but they have lower costs per film) -- again, falling back on revenues, wikipedia claims [wikipedia.org] the Indian film industry "reached overall revenues of $1.86 billion (Rs 93 billion) in 2011. This is projected to rise to $3 billion (Rs 150 billion) in 2016."And for China, wikipedia claims [wikipedia.org] 2.12 billion USD as the domestic gross box office revenues for Chinese films (69% share of 3.6 billion USD for all films, Chinese and foreign -- no, the math doesn't work out right, so maybe "market share" is being computed per-ticket rather than per-money).
As for the US case, it's unclear how much of either figure is profit, but the revenues are not so low as to rule out movie budgets being greater than space budgets.
Then there's Russia, who afaik has no film industry but we need them to launch astronauts to the ISS. What's Russia's budget?
Russia does have a film industry, though I think it is much smaller (relative to space budget) than in other countries I've looked at. Anyway, Roskosmos's budget is 5.6 billion.
Informative, thank you.
Movies make a profit... All that money comes back, and then some, in a few months. If I could fund some space mission for less than the cost of a house, I'd still go for the house.
Velcro is nice and all, but these days we're not pushing through many major technological hurdles, so I'm not sure we'll get the kind of benefits we saw from Apollo. And if I hear one more NASA press release saying they've got found another tiny bit of evidence, giving them a grain more hope that there might have been life on Mars, I'm going to go out and blow up the deep-space network...
One possible type of space mission with financial return in the foreseeable future is asteroid mining, hence the significant private investment there. Who wouldn't want a billion tons of Platinum?
*ahem* $2B for a B2 bomber and we have 40 of them *ahem*
So yeah, we definitely need to slash the space budget.
Not sure, but given the extreme costs of publicly funded space programs in the past, being affordable by the super rich (independently) WOULD be an improvement. That we'd still of course want more improvements wouldn't negate that, just perhaps frame it a bit more accurately.
Of course India is going to Mars, it is the tandoori planet!
If you're going for the comedy mod, should have gone for something like every time NASA calls MAVEN after hours, they get Mangalyaan who identifies himself as "Bob" and tells them to reinstall Windows no matter what NASA says.
I'm in literal tears over here.
We've all dealt with a script monkey that sounds like they would rather die than think for any reason.
Kind of sad that the racist joke gets +5...
Is their program in 3D?
I'm now looking forward to seeing a cow jump over the moon.
That is amazing and its great to see space becoming feasibly accessible. We humans need a new boundary to push towards!
MAVEN and MOM (the Indian spacecraft) will complement each other: both are studying the Martian atmosphere. The two teams will be collaborating when the spacecraft arrive at the planet. MOM even has some instruments that MAVEN doesn't have (a methane detector).
Many more details here:
http://www.universetoday.com/105772/maven-and-mom- missions-from-nasa-and-india-plan-martian-science- collaboration-in-orbit/ [universetoday.com]
I'm no expert whatsoever, but one could say that your MOM is so ugly she has been relocated to MARS!
Maybe when they have rule of law and can bring rapists to justice, then they should consider space exploration.
Until then, the government is not serving its people.
The only thing the more moderate folks in India can do is push the country forward in other ways, unless you're suggesting:
a) vigilantismb) full-time campaigning on this issue which may not be resolved in our lifetimes
So, if you want to bring the country up to respectability, maybe the answer is to inspire the younger generation with something they can aspire to rather than simply carrying forward the misogynistic traditions of their tribal community.
By contrast, we have a gun violence problem in the US. Does this mean we shut down all medical research until the gang problem is fixed? It might be that legalizing marijuana will solve problems in both camps, but no, putting restrictions on a country's respectable programs is not the way to get leverage on its societal failings - quite to the contrary I think.
Don't they think it's a little premature to start braying about their phenomenal success story?
Indeed, the second-tier space programs' Mars missions have shown a strong tendency to choose the Simplified Planetary Landing Approach Trajectory as their "terminal" guidance plan, not that US programs have been in any way immune to this either.
It's far enough along that they've probably figured out that they didn't make a metric conversion error. So that already puts them ahead of NASA's early Mars record.
On one hand you have projects like PhoneSat and some of the astrobiology stuff that are done with consistent use of upcycling, saving tens of thousands of dollars.
On the other they waste millions on buying components and facilities for a project that has already been cancelled, and so on.
It'd be good if there was one person in charge, or if at least the various program chairs sat down to talk to each other once a week.
(I was, or am, involved with the former).
Once SpaceX can demonstrate a reusable first stage (perhaps later this year) and then later a reusable second stage the potential costs for similar missions could fall even more dramatically. I would love to see the price point fall to where a university or consortium of universities could afford to launch scientific missions into the solar system. Currently, just the launch cost to Mars can be $200M or more. If the cost can be lowered to the $5M to $10M range, think of how much more can be done.