Thursday, May 31, 2007

Asking for the moon!

FT reports that India and China are in a race for a moon landing:

China and India are both planning to launch moon shots within a year in the latest sign of the two Asian powerhouses’ intensifying rivalry and growing technological prowess.

.. ....China said this month that it expected to launch its first unmanned lunar orbiter, the Chang’e-1 (named after China’s mythological “lady in the moon”) before the end of this year, while India this week announced that it could send up a similar space probe as early as April 2008.

........the Chandrayaan-1 probe, which will map the moon’s surface for chemicals using a spectrometer and terrain-mapping cameras during a two-year mission, would cost Rs3.9bn ($96.3m), a 10th of ISRO’s annual budget.

Under Beijing’s three-stage plan, the Chang’e orbiter will be followed by a lunar landing and then by a mission to bring back rock and soil samples. India is building a two-legged robot for a possible follow-up mission to the moon’s surface in 2011.

........Madhavan Nair, chairman of ISRO, said this week that his organisation would submit a report to the Indian government in a year’s time on whether a manned space mission, likely to cost about Rs100bn ($2.4bn), would be needed.

Nasa will provide two scientific instruments for Chandrayaan-1, illustrating the Bush administration’s drive to build a strategic partnership with India


Krishnan said...

I think it is great to hear about India shooting for the moon ... it can be done, if there is will power. But, I can almost see the criticisms out there ... "Why is the Government spending money going to the moon? Why not alleviate poverty here?" "What about social injustices?" and so on and so forth. The technological and economic fall out from such a quest will be huge and benefit the economy in ways that no one will be able to predict, yet there will be strident criticism. I hope the leaders set their sights on the target, go for it and can succeed if they decide they want to. Let the race begin!

T T Ram Mohan said...

Krishnan, You are right!- the expenditure on the planned moon exploration is already being criticised by groups here. They think a poor country shouldn't be getting into these things.

It's interesting to see that a moon land has the capacity to trigger a race between the two Asian giants, somewhat like the race in the sixties between the then two superpowers.


Krishnan said...

I hope they go ahead and "Shoot for the Moon" ... (Hope the critics SHUT UP!)

On a related issue ...

Several years ago, right wing conservatives criticized a number of research programs to try and understand AIDS because as some of them put it "It is God's way of punishing evil acts" - When heterosexuals started getting AIDS, the clamor declined, some ... Yet the groups missed the point of research that was initiated then and continues now. Our understanding of the immune system advanced (and continues to advance) because the community decided to mount an assault on AIDS and the benefits of that work are flowing to many diseases that NO One could have predicted. But, would any of these groups acknowledge that? Noooo!

That there is something fundamentally beneficial to a country and it's peoples by expanding the boundaries of our knowledge is beyond many people. Sadly, even in the US, many are not educated of the extent to which the Gemini/Apollo moon shot impacted the economy here - "We beat the Russians" (yea, but look underneath and see how much we benefited beyond watching Armstrong land on the moon!) I am hoping the US sends people to Mars soon!