Hats off ISRO! Yet another moment every Indian would be proud of! Indian Space Research Organization aka ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) has been successful in inserting the spacecraft into the Mars’ orbit. Adding more to the joy, India has become the first country to do this in very first attempt. US Mars mission- MAVEN was successful, whereas the major difference between MAVEN and MOM is that India spent somewhat US $25 million for the mission while US spent nearly $671 million on similar project.
I see many debates going on around me on why is India spending so much money, resources and time on such a project where we have many other basic issues to be handled. Why is government utilizing our tax-paid money for such a project that no one can even assure will succeed? Why can’t government “utilize” same $25 million to provide food to flood-affected regions, for educating poor and other purposes? However, I absolutely feel that the ISRO’s MOM project is justified, may it be the cost or resources. I’m sharing one of my experience on similar topic. Here it goes-
I was fortunate that I got an opportunity to meet the Missile Man and then President of India Mr. A P J Abdul Kalam in 2010. (And I’m happy for that) It was India’s Moon mission-Chandrayaan in news back then, when it crash-landed in 2009, forcing ISRO to shut down the program. I was neither against such space missions, nor am I now. While Mr. Kalam was busy in some random discussion with other people, I decided to ask him my question. The question was- why is government spending huge money on such projects when their success is totally uncertain. Halting his other discussions, he straightaway jumped to what I asked. By now, other eyes in that small room were targeting me.
Like always, his reply was outstanding. What he said was it is not about wasting people’s money on missions. We have priorities, no doubt on spending money for education, food, basic amenities, that is a must and we’re doing it. But we want to be somewhere in research and development. We just can’t follow the same things over the years. And it’s not just about whether the mission succeeded or failed or failed miserably. Every single minute in such mission teaches a lesson to scientists working on it. Even the smallest thing can make or break the mission. Also, people will say that when US, Russia and other countries have done the same thing but could not find anything on Moon, why is country like India doing it again? The thing we need to understand is that it is not the race, it’s not like the one who does it first, wins. Absolutely not, we need to find answers to our questions, solve mysteries and we’ll work together on such missions. We’re not wasting money, we’re educating our scientists and researchers and ultimately people.