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A new space race, with new players

November 6th, 2013
09:42 AM ET

By Lucky Gold, CNN

Imagine a world where a new race for outer space – with new players – has achieved lift-off.

Over fifty years ago, U.S. President John F. Kennedy announced America’s intention to beat the Soviet Union to the moon.

Today, a spacecraft was rocketed into orbit, the first stage in an ambitious mission to mars. But it wasn't launched by the United States or Russia.

The un-manned spacecraft was launched by India – for the relatively bargain-basement cost of $73 million.

It is scheduled to reach the red planet sometime next year, where it will conduct scientific experiments.

Interactive: Mars exploration from Viking to MAVEN

While some say India should spend its treasure feeding its children – among the most malnourished on earth – India is also a global economic power, in open competition for research and resources.

China, one of India’s chief competitors, has been sending manned missions into space for over a decade; not only with plans for a permanent space station, but a manned landing on Mars by mid-century.

From a one-man space program under construction in a backyard in Uganda, to South Africa's commitment to send its third satellite over the rainbow, to a joint space initiative between up and coming power Brazil and Russia – the race is on and the sky is no longer the limit.

Read more: Is India's Mars mission the latest escalation in Asia's space race?

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. ashok

    A lot of peaceful spin offs as well from the advanced technology that goes into such a mission.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:08 am | Reply
  2. Galo H

    Finally there is a chance that somebody will tell the world that there is life in Mars

    November 6, 2013 at 11:17 am | Reply
  3. Dr.Suresh Babu

    I am not thrilled by the so called achievement made by India when thousands remain poor. Why hurry to Mars. It is a misdirected mission, it should be directed to the villages. Let the country flush out its corrupted leaders first.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Villager

      Dr. Suresh can you help me with the number of doctors who left India to practice medicine in UK, US, AU, CA etc? I wish the'd come back first and start serving the country's villages.
      Back to the mission, this project is a case in point that you need not spend a billion dollar to send a mission to Mars. Cheap but sensible tech is the new way for space exploration.

      November 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Reply
      • hari

        Well said Villager.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
      • saravana

        well said...every time India achieve something these kind of cry will be always there as if India does not do this then there wont be any poor. Thickly populated countries like India always have some problems like, poverty and health. But these problems were taken care and improving every year.

        November 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Danny

      Im not thrilled that NRIs still believe they have a vested interest in Indias Domestic polictics without contributing to the country other than as a tourist! India has grown even with self centred professionals abandoning the country of their birth for overseas wealth! You do not have the right to criticise India as a US/UK citizen.

      November 7, 2013 at 8:08 am | Reply
  4. Shubs

    As an Indian, I don't understand the debate about India's resources being squandered by this project. This is a fake concern. The Indian space program consumes less than .03% of India's GDP. This mission cost roughly USD 74million, less than the cost of the opening ceremony of the wasteful 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi! India's public spending is notorious for its corruption and scams. There are obviously a huge number of areas where oversight of spending are needed. But this is a space program that is famously frugal and operates on shoestring budgets, and yet pulls off fantastic results year after year. It is a significant player in the international satellite launch business, with workhorses like the PSLV rocket which has launched 28 Indian and 35 foreign satellites into a variety of orbits till date. India has more than 20 satellites providing services ranging from remote sensing, communications, weather forecasting, defence, to navigation. In what conceivable way will withholding this fractional budgets from the space program benefit the country as a whole? These are straw man arguments from people who, while well intentioned, are just looking for a scapegoat to vent their gripes on. They have legitimate concerns about the government's priorities when it comes to backing scientific undertakings, but surely, the cost argument is nonsense!

    November 6, 2013 at 11:54 am | Reply
  5. Marc

    Space race? Really? Wow, that's the human pride, right? Pride and stupidity as one. I don't understand where I am right here, so let me runaway and spend billions out there – where I don't belong in the 1st place > G-d, we're so stupid.

    November 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  6. Regv

    The new wild west of exploration. India and USA can do a joint experiment in space, as both of their spacecraft are arriving in 2014. With the two main democracies of Earth reaching Mars, perhaps the alien life forms there, will be less shy to say hello this time.

    November 6, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • Danny

      Yes India and US should do more together, their only previous relation was when the US armed and funded Pakistanis genocide of bengalis and Hindus in 1971. Oh and i think the US flirted with India more recently with its creation of Pak ISI from village morons to well funded aggressors! India should be very careful with a country that has effectively waged against India, have you seen how US treats its friends in Europe, they spy on them including its citizens, imagine what they would do to India if they got the chance. US wants to be the new British Empire and india was one of its toys!

      November 7, 2013 at 8:14 am | Reply
  7. rajesh

    india is a peaceful nation with positive energy

    November 6, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  8. pedro

    Brazilian space program is nothing but a dmn skeleton today... has been since 10 years or so ago, when a rocket exploded in the launch platform killing almost all the staff we had on the program... not to mention lack of budget to properly do anything...

    November 14, 2013 at 2:36 am | Reply
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