Is the Chandrayaan project too ambitious?

July 17, 2009

The Indian Space Research Organisation has said that Chandrayaan-1, the country’s first unmanned moon probe, has malfunctioned and its two-year mission may need to be curtailed.

Moon projectThe Chandrayaan-1, which cost $79 million, was launched in 2008 to map the moon’s surface and look for precious metals.

The moon probe’s successful launch in October enthused the media and distracted India from an economic slowdown, collapsing stock prices and outbreaks of ethnic and religious violence.

In a recent interview, Delhi Metro chief Elattuvalapil Sreedharan told Reuters that the government should concentrate more on building basic infrastructure.

“The pressure should be more on that rather than going to the moon,” Sreedharan said.

Do you think the moon probe project was a mistake in a country where millions still survive on less than $2 a day?


India as a country and people have a tradition of boasting of equalling the West and China and that they are better than Pak but constantly fail to deliver. Myopic Indian politics with inferior complex instead of diverting their attention to pressing problems, dream of garnering respect from China and the West.

Posted by Raj | Report as abusive

No.. its not a mistake by any means!!….

Posted by John | Report as abusive

The moon mission by India is certainly not a mistake. It demonstrates their technological prowess. Linking poverty and space technology is a lame excuse not to progress. Even here in the US (who landed men on the moon 40 years ago), we still have beggars in the streets. Where are our priorities then? The poor in India are poor because they WANT to be poor to receive free government aid etc (no difference between socialists in the US). I have been seeing reports of Indian politicians like Mayawati who is keen on building statues of her. Why can’t someone write against that? Why are you harping on spending money on the space program? Having a space program will help uplift Indians. The so called poor can find jobs at the space centers and their contractors. There are those who were against computers in the 1980s – citing possible job losses in India itself. But now look at the IT sector of India. The US already outsources lots of work to India now. The same people would today come out and go against the space program. Lazy socialist people will not work and expect hard working tax payers to fund them all the time – this happens anywhere in the world. They will complain against great people like Madavan Nair and Mike Griffin but not against Mayawati. Humans need to progress further by reaching out to space as we are destined to do that.

Posted by Glen Smith | Report as abusive

I could help but agree with Glen’s comments. Government waste is not because of the space program but because of politicians like Mayawati. Why can’t we have a Dr Madavan Nair in every state to make all of us proud? I live in Delhi and I can tell that it’s the people who need to change – to stop throwing rubbish everywhere. The space program will help Indians to get jobs and add value. Building Mayawati statues will only have foreigners like Glen laugh at us. More and more firms will ask India to launch satellites for them if we can land men on the moon. Please support the space program so our future will be secure. Glen is right – it is the same people who opposed computers in the 1980s who are now against the space program now.

Posted by Suresh Mehta | Report as abusive

Yes, Chandrayaan is important for India on the technological front, Infrastructure is needed for India on the development front, both Mr. Madhavan and E. Sreedharan have done fabulous jobs in showing that India is not behind their peers in science and technology. This is what keeps a country going, this is how jobs gets created and people are encouraged to work for their country instead of working for NASA, CATERPILLAR in US. But what we dont need is Mayawati’s statues for INR 200Crore, what we dont need is some CM’s sons marriages worth INR 50 Crore. So please cover those things and raise your (Indian media) voice on those corrupt things rather than blabbering on some prestigious projects some great people have beeing doing for India. I would appreciate if this comment is posted as it is.

Posted by Vamshidhar | Report as abusive

A modern nation is not just about roads, buildings and sewage systems. India’s past civilizations have boasted of well-planned roads, sewage systems, sea-ports and the like (for eg. Indus).

A modern and technologically progressive nation could be identified by its ability to ‘build’ roads into space. The technology that has been developed by space scientists has all the potential to better and completely transform the lives of millions of Indians. I believe that Indians of all abilities should unequivocally support the cause of the space endeavour and look to improve the conditions of their fellow Indians themselves.

What the space scientists could do best should be left for them to do.

These passing comments every other time there’s a set-back in the space programme or for that matter other defence programmes are unnecessary. This continuous poking at India’s space programme is a distraction number one and number two it’s meddling with someone else’s business. These media-men, if they have nothing good to do, they could do better by probably gaining a good skill to improve their CV or learn a new art, or help a good cause in India amongst the needy.

Thank you,

Posted by Ajay | Report as abusive

Sending a mission to moon shows the world our technical prowess, combining this with our ability to launch these misssions at the lowest cost in the world beating our closest competitor china with miles, will generate market for satellite launching of other countries. This will generate more revenue for the government. This revenue can then be utilised for funding of further missions in space without burdening our economy. Also these missions improve our technology and experience which may be utilised in defence and other key areas. To sum up India must continue with these missions and time is not far when the west will awe us, just like it does in IT sector.

Posted by Reality | Report as abusive

India must find it place in the world of space research. This is not a step too far, or far fetched. While aspirational, there is untold benefit to several other areas of technology and defense. If nothing else, we can figure out how to destroy the next missile or weapon technology some jihadi or enemy country like China, may have up their sleeve.

Posted by H Zadoo | Report as abusive

It’s true that India needs infrastructure, and infrastructure is happening in India now, I am surprised, it’s slow but it will grow. Just because infrastructure important doesn’t mean that it should stop the SPACE research, this is very important to India and it should continue. I agree with GLEN. My suggestion is that “stop writing AGANIST the prosperity of India and write against your corrupted leaders who love MONEY over THEIR COUNTRY.

Posted by T.K.D | Report as abusive

Reality, wow your naive portrayal of India’s capability baffles me. Let us not forget, India is a third world country in every sense of the word. The west looks at India with scorn and we see the IT as a joke. You would do well do alleviate extreme poverty. We are more than a century ahead of you in sophistication. China is at least 30 years ahead of you in the same respect.

Posted by Waldner | Report as abusive

Y can anyone think it is ambitious project. It just demonstrates the technical development in India .A failure doesn’t mean that v should not continue doin that. as the English proverb says “failures are stepping stones for success” take this failure in a positive manner and we should try not to repeat the same mistake and try to improve further in the field of this technology…

Posted by sriharsha | Report as abusive

It is absurd to comment that Chandrayan I was a failure.In the eightees, ISRO was launching Russian Rockets for metereological survey, then India developed own rockets, RSR100, 200, 300, 500, etc, for the same purpose. From there, thro the nintees, we managed to launch Polar Satellites thro PSLV and then Communication Satellites with GSLV. What a great development within 20 years! Now, with initiation of Chandrayan Project, we are heading towards the Moon. This is a systematic development and Chandrayan I is only some 10% of the total project in which 90% was successful. India has to develop a vehicle which can return back from Space like Space Shuttle. Re-entry techonlogy is a challenge for any Manned mission. Then again, we have to develop a capsule which can go into the moon with man, return back to its mother unit orbitting around the moon. It needs time, money, dedication and determination. Mr. Sreedharans comment was at the wrong time! If millions are under poverty, why does he support High Speed Railways, Super Highway Projets and such hight tech infrastructure developments!!! We can distribute it to the poor!!!

Posted by Mathew | Report as abusive

Indians are a joke. We all know that. This space probe does not showcase any “Indian” technology. What technology did Indian invent?

All of this was spoon-fed to them like little children in a Montessori in the 50s and 60s by the West.

Indians don’t’ have basic sanitation, and these people are trying to go to the moon.


Posted by Rohan de Silva | Report as abusive

I have seen some comments here from readers in the West ridiculing India for spending millions on space program while there is such poverty in the country. The expenditure of colossal sums certainly seems criminal when there are children dying of malnutrition. By that token, the U.S. should shut down NASA and similar other missions given that there are so many homeless who freeze to death every year in New York and other cold regions, and there are beggers and malnourished children in Manhattan, Missouri, Alabama and elesewhere. Also, when India spends huge amounts buying fighter jets from the western countries, why don’t they put forward the same argument? On the contrary, the U.S. finalizes with such alacrity the nuclear deal under which India will spend millions to buy nuclear reactors from the U.S. The U.s. and other Western countries are also making a bee-line to grab the multi-million deal to sell fighter planes to India. But, and it comes full circle here, these developed countries come back with the same
argument when India undertakes such projects as development of LCA or Chandrayaan. Clearly, anything that threatens their technological superiority or business is not acceptable.

Posted by Samir Ranjan | Report as abusive

Poverty alleciation is a given. It is our complusion and our reality. The motivation regards Moon missions and space exploration for the Indian media and the Indian people might be to compete with the west or china or whatever, but among policy makers, scientists and their financiers, it is to do with development. Socialism in India resulted in the License Raj, slow economic growth and staganation of entrepreneurial and pregressive thinking. It was the reason why we lagged behind and failed to move people out of poverty amng other reasons.

Since 1991, when we opened our economy and followed a slightly more rightist, open market path, we have halved the population of Indian living under poverty from about 49% of population down to 25%. thats a big achievement in a country of a billion people!

Space exploration makes our growth more rounded and ensures we don’t lad behind and pay heavy amounts to ensure our defense, communication, weather forecasting and intellectual growth to other wountries who innovate faster than us. People who haven’t encountered the challenges of economic depravity in a non aggressive non militant country, will never be able to understand the depth and complexity of our challenge. We do not solve our problems by invading other countries for resources. We hold the moral high ground despite our poverty and they know it.

Posted by Anuj | Report as abusive

we will compete the world in any cost.The present pain may lead us to a brighter future.

Posted by s. moharana | Report as abusive

Too bad to hear about the death of Chandrayaan today. But it answered the question already. IMO it is just too ambitious with only $79 million spending. As I Chinese
I just wish ISRO have more spending and less bragging for the second time.

Posted by china wong | Report as abusive

I believe that their space programme is in the right direction. If you compare the money they spent in making bollywood movies and space programme, you will realize that the money spent in space programme is still nothing!!

Their major problems are still cumbersome democracy and corrupted political system.

PS: The technology they use in their space mission is not fully indegenously developed. still it is not a drwaback as nearly all space aspirants rely one way or other depend another countries for fullfilling such pace missions.

Posted by Creator | Report as abusive

I guess we have our answer.

Indian outsourcing doesn’t work for businesses, and it doesn’t work when they develop internally either.

You have to ask yourself, if they have 3x the population of Europe, 4x the population of the US, where are the Microsofts, the Suns, the Oracles? There’s a reason they live off of western contracts — they’re worker bees, not leaders, not innovators.

Sorry, someone had to say it.

Posted by DanUK | Report as abusive

people think that chandrayan is a waste of money but they never see the positive side of it. ok then let us think for a while that we dont use these money on chandrayan than is there any assuarity that the politicians are not going to steal these money, they are in a search of a good time when they can put all those money in ther pockets. now utilising those money on chandrayan is better than providing it to the greedy politicians. today in the list of top 10 countries which sent the spacecrafts in space there is also the name of india so we should be proud at our success


Chandrayan Mission Is undoubtedly very helpful for India for it would increase the importance,prestige,……for India.

Posted by ANUPAM AMBUJ | Report as abusive

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