Depending on the perspective of the observer, Mangalyaan is either 2013’s best feel-good stories from India Inc., or a wasteful use of taxpayer resources, money that could have gone to making toilets, water fountains, hospitals, education, or more Aaakash tablets. Despite its limited scientific objectives or what you thought of it, the boffins behind the Mars Orbiter were committed completionists, going so far as applying for a visa in Tirupati. They didn’t need your permission.

How much is Rs. 450 Crore? Compare it to the size of scams, defense budgets, or the box office winnings of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, and it seems small. But to put a human cost to that number, let’s divide it by Rs. 1699 – that’s the retail price of a D.Light S300 Solar Lantern. We did the number crunching to arrive at this number.

Some questions from Debbie Downer:

Is Mangalyaan environmentally friendly? What minerals are required to manufacture Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene or Unsymmetrical Di-Methyl Hydrazine? Are they greenhouse gases? How expensive is Mangalyaan as a percentage of annual fuel subsidy on LPG, Diesel or Petrol? How many Macbook Pros could you buy for 450 Crores? How many Batkids is a Mangalyaan? How many DVDs of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos can you buy for 450 crores?

india-mangalyaan

source: ISRO

More coverage here.

Trivia on propellants

Bonus Update: ISRO scientists weigh in on their contributions to country.

Hi, The other things which need the said attention and funds are more of an operations problem than of finance. Our Mars mission cost a fifth of what a planned ‘Statue of Unity’ is going to cost. NASA’s projected budget for 2013 is about $ 18 Billion, which will approximately be 0.5% of the total US budget. ISRO’s allotted budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $ 950 Million, almost 19 times less, and is about 0.33% of the total Indian budget. So, no, ISRO is not taking a bite out of the poor and hungry Indian’s pie. In fact, through its remote sensing and communication programs (IRS and INSAT), we are only helping build an essential infrastructure for the country. Then, there is disaster management: we saved millions (of lives and dollars, both) by being well prepared for the cyclone Phailin. That is where maintaining cutting edge technological capability through R & D pays! Remote sensing helps our farmers and fishermen: the beloved poor-hungry-Indians and enables them to buy food. Giving them food, is not the answer. And our communication satellites are well, apart from connecting the remotest parts of a diverse and large country (telemedicine and edusat), are enabling me to answer this question in real time. Also, this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CbIZU8cQWXc

 

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