India fact of the day

by on November 5, 2013 at 1:24 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Science | Permalink

Drawn from a tweet:

At $72m, India’s mission to Mars less expensive than many NY/London apartments.

You can verify that Indian number here.  How about some Mumbai buildings while we are at it?

1 Edward Burke November 5, 2013 at 1:32 pm

The cost is barely one-third of the net worth of rock ‘n’ roll populist Bruce Springsteen, whose personal fortune is roughly on par with Mitt Romney’s: if Springsteen and Romney would only join forces, commercial exploitation of the asteroid belt would be within reach!

2 otto November 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

“Many” London apartments cost more than $72m. Absurd, buffoonish.

3 Jim Nazium November 6, 2013 at 9:16 am

Agreed. According to an April Forbes article, the most expensive apartment in NYC is listed for $125M. It refers to two others valued at $115M and $90M. So I think “many” in this tweet means about four or five.

4 Ben Bernanke November 5, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Edward Burke clearly doesn’t understand fiat money, or the fact that currencies aren’t freely convertible to each other, or the fact that the Dollar is hyper-inflating.

5 Jeff November 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Who said their net worth is invested in dollars? Probably the bulk of it is in other assets that just happen to be convertible to dollars, like stocks, bonds, and probably even a London apartment.

6 Edward Burke November 5, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Ben: YOU’RE the Fed chairman, not moi, but also keep in mind I’m no trained economist, economic historian, or Princeton grad, so I leave it to you to understand fiat money and currency convertibility to your own satisfaction.

If as you say the dollar is hyper-inflating, however, I respectfully suggest you convene the FOMC crowd TONIGHT with plans to announce the immediate end to further quantitative easing, before the markets reopen tomorrow (or: how about wait at least until early Thursday, 7 November? An extra 24 hours wouldn’t hurt too much, would it?). Sleep well in the meanwhile.

7 Rahul November 5, 2013 at 1:52 pm

It’s easy to make cheap attempts. Not so easy to get cheap successes.

I’ll wait and watch……

8 Jeff November 5, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Maybe that $72MM figure is a testament to how inexpensive Indian programmers are.

9 Adrian Ratnapala November 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Hmm, if only space exploration were all about programing, that would be an important point.

My guess is that India has millions of excellent, inexpensive programmers. However western companies looking to India to hire cheap programmers wont find them, because India has a highly efficient and successful industry that specialises in ripping such customers off. So what are all the good Indian programmers doing? Building rockets of course!

10 Jeff November 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm

To be fair, I said “programming” but really meant technically-skilled workers generally. I’ve worked with several myself and have consistently found that their technical skills are quite good, the main problem is that their English isn’t the English we speak.

11 Jeff November 5, 2013 at 3:17 pm

In an all-Indian project this language barrier would presumably not be a problem or at least not nearly so much of one.

12 Rahul November 6, 2013 at 12:20 am


To answer your “what are all the good Indian programmers doing?”</I.

Programming in countries outside India, of course! 🙂

13 Mark Thorson November 5, 2013 at 2:33 pm

It’s time to out-source NASA.

14 Frederic Mari November 5, 2013 at 3:50 pm

LOL and +1

15 dbp November 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm

I would warrant that many NASA projects that never make it past the drawing-board cost more. Curiosity is more ambitious and has been a success, something that the Indian effort has yet to show, but we spent about 35 times as much on the program.

16 Ricardo November 6, 2013 at 1:42 am

Sure, but there is a big difference between safely landing an SUV-sized, nuclear-powered robotic laboratory that will roam the Martian surface for years and launching a probe that will merely orbit Mars. The former is something that has never been done before so, naturally, the R&D costs of developing such a complex piece of machinery and making it reliable would undoubtedly be high. The U.S. and Russia have been blasting satellites into orbit around Mars since the early 1970s so it ought to not be outrageously expensive to do with 21st century technology.

17 Hadur November 5, 2013 at 4:00 pm

As I recall, NASA pursued a strategy of cheaper, smaller probes in the 90’s and 2000’s, resulting in several disasters.

18 Mark Thorson November 5, 2013 at 5:00 pm

That was preceded by the loss of the Mars Observer, a big expensive probe, most likely due to a leaky valve. The first smaller cheaper probe was the Mars Climate Orbiter, which was lost due to an error caused by ground control using English units and the orbiter using metric units. Either one of these disasters could have happened to a probe of any size, so I suppose they both vindicate the smaller cheaper approach.

19 Alexei Sadeski November 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm

“…lost due to an error caused by ground control using English units and the orbiter using metric units…”

That must have been so embarrassing.

20 Harish November 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm

How about some Mumbai buildings while we are at it?

Too much for me.

21 freethinker November 5, 2013 at 7:40 pm

We Indians ( I live in India) are incapable of ensuring regular supply of water even in affluent residential areas, and the water supply has to be purified before you drink it, our infrastructure is horrendous, women are increasingly vulnerable to sexual crimes, our streets are filthy and full of potholes and look like lakes in rains, our public transport ( so crucial in a poor nation) is horrifying, with 100 people packed into a bus or train coach meant for 50 and hanging from windows, huge quantities of our harvested crops rot without proper storage facilities, we can’t get our government owned school teachers to teach and corruption is rampant.
But so what? we Indians can send a spacecraft to Mars, and that more than compensates for our other shortcomings.

22 either you care about other people or you don't November 5, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Thank you for your comment. I should warn you, though, your concern for actual individuals is not likely to be too popular in most (other?) corners of the blogosphere …

23 Fun November 5, 2013 at 8:52 pm

A 72 million dollar New york apartment will get you laid with super models, a 72 million dollar Indian astroventure will only lead to 4 dead astronauts and no sex.

24 Nikki November 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Do you think they’ll freak out so much if the craft fails that they’ll start killing off astronauts?

25 Anthony November 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

India is reportedly much more sexually conservative than the United States, but do you really think that anyone who can say they’re “in charge” of some aspect of the program couldn’t use that to get sex?

26 Fun November 7, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Anthony, they might get some, but NOTHING even remotely like the kind you would get with a 72 Million Dollar Manhattan Apartment…

27 DK November 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm

How about applying some MR wisdom here and speculating if the real figure is higher/lower than $72m?
For one, it may be hard to tell the public that they spend so much on a program which is useless (in public’s eyes).

28 DK November 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm

I take that back, they had divine intervention, they could have done it for much less with such intervention.

“Carrying on with a tradition followed by his predecessor G Madhavan Nair, Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan offered pujas at the Tirupati Venkateswara temple, about 100km from the launch pad, with miniature replicas of the rocket and the Mars orbiter spacecraft.”

29 freethinker November 6, 2013 at 1:19 pm

DK, we Indians are unique in that we can earnestly believe in religious ritual and astrology and also earnestly say that all this is rubbish. I even know science professors who believe in astrology yet tell their students that astrology is not a science! And somehow we in India get away with it

30 Ed November 6, 2013 at 11:01 am

Blogger David Lindsay argues that the foreign aid budget of his country (the UK) should be reduced by the exact amount of how much money the recipient country is spending on their nuclear program and their space program. Its hard to come up with an argument against that position.

31 msgkings November 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Space program sure, but shouldn’t poor nations try to come up with ways to generate their own energy?

32 Rahul November 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Probably means military nuclear program.

33 Peldrigal November 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I was to ask the opposite. Seems obvious that a nuclear state would try to limit proliferation, but why hamper research if not to mantain the status quo?
I severely feel the need of a punctuation mark for sarcasm.

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