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Moon OK Please
October 22, 2008 1:08 AM   Subscribe

"India on Wednesday became the sixth nation to launch a moon mission when indigenously built PSLV-C11 rocket blasted off from the spaceport here carrying with it Chandrayaan-I, which will map the lunar surface." For India, The Future Is Here.

A video of the launch.
An official photo gallery.

Previously.
posted by ageispolis (38 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like how everyone has a healthy space programme now. Go for it India.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:31 AM on October 22, 2008


Missed the live feed, thanks for the YT video. Interesting that we seem to have an American-style countdown now; don't remember this being a part of coverage of earlier lift-offs. The Russians famously don't have a countdown either; they simply announce the Russian word for 'take-off' (and here's a word that escapes both my memory and my google-fu).

Hmmm, now that I think about it, we may have had a countdown on text-overlay, but never a voice-over.

Basically, a countdown in that southie Indian accent is trés amusing, is what I'm sayin'. :-D Lots of hesitancy in that voice, rather metaphoric for India's small-steps in space.

Really wish the press would start gushing _after_ the Chandrayaan enters lunar orbit, but heck, as warm fuzzy feelings go, this is as good a place as any to start.

Fun fact I learnt only today: there's some discussion on what an ISRO-launched space-traveller should be called. The choices are gagan-naut, brahma-naut, vishwa-naut, and a direct Sanskrit translation, antariksha yaatri.

My suggestion: make it gagan-nath, for the Sanskrit root natha. How to make it sound more gender-inclusive, though, is something beyond my limited Sanskrit abilities. (Would 'gagan-nathaah' suffice?)

Chandrayaan 2 is already planned, is scheduled for either 2010 or next year and will feature a land-rover. Note to self: Time to put those Mindstorms skills to play.
posted by the cydonian at 3:22 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't wait for the LGF-reloaded arguments about what that US flag on the moon really means.

TANSTAAFL!
posted by rokusan at 3:58 AM on October 22, 2008


How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million. How many people in India try to exist on under a $1.25 a day? Answer: over 400 million. How much does this suck? Answer: Plenty.
posted by adamvasco at 4:16 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to concur with Adamvasco. Is it any more obscene to me that India has a space programme over and above China, Russia or the US? I'm not sure it is.

Though having spent a significant amount of time in India when I was 18 and seeing first hand poverty up close and personal -including watching a young girl die on the pavement (sorry sidewalk as you guys across the pond say) surrounded by her parents on the stretch of pavement they called home - I guess I find it a particularly hard pill to swallow.

I have to say that I consider there is an argument to be had that says space travel is immoral.

On this note, there was an interesting interview on Hardtalk with Dr Tom Pike who was questioned about the morality of space travel.
posted by numberstation at 5:11 AM on October 22, 2008


Number of children living below the poverty line in the United States etc

[amount of money spent of all kinds of stuff not connected to education, healthcare etc? um, trillions]

but I digress,

Cydonian, I like antarisksh yaatri btw all those naath's remind me of Jagannath Puri
posted by infini at 5:31 AM on October 22, 2008


Missed the live feed

I was watching the live webcast and it wasn't entirely smooth. The stream kept stuttering, and i don't think they even linked to the stream from the page. But it was fun, and very different from the typical NASA launches.

(can we skip the whole poor-Indians-throwing-away-money talk? )
posted by dhruva at 5:51 AM on October 22, 2008


How much does this suck? Answer: Plenty.

Dude, they launched shit into outer space.
posted by chunking express at 6:04 AM on October 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


And, more to the point, the challenge of helping all of India's people escape poverty is very difficult. Whether this 86 million dollars would have been better spent on ... what? ... I don't know. India already has a lot of good social programs. It was a very socialist country for a long time.

I think it's awesome India has a fucking space program.
posted by chunking express at 6:22 AM on October 22, 2008


OK, so, India is a democracy, they have a lot of poor people who could really use jobs, and they have a great space program. And a lot of them speak pretty good English.

Can anyone tell me why so much our junk in America is made in China? It seems to me that we should trying to be India's best pals in the whole world, including buying all our stuff from them, and basically cooperating with them on anything they need help with, from basic aid for the poor to space travel and other high tech enterprises, and creating free trade agreements to favor them over less democratic countries.

I'd feel a hell of a lot better to see "Made In India" on everything I buy rather than "Made In (insert any authoritarian country here)".

Go India!
posted by Reverend John at 6:33 AM on October 22, 2008


How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million. How many people in India try to exist on under a $1.25 a day? Answer: over 400 million.

Agreed that poverty is a terrible terrible thing, but these numbers don't support the argument against the Indian space program, quite the reverse.

400 million x $1.25 is $500 million. And that's per day. That's over five times the $86 million figure given.

It doesn't look like money wasted from here.
posted by motty at 6:40 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


offtopic: A fair amount of stuff Made in India is made by little kids, so I wouldn't feel too super happy about it. I don't get why speaking English makes India a better place than China to buy stuff from though. An old co-worker who know runs a factory in China was telling me that China now has too many worker protection laws in place for foreign interests, so a lot of factories are moving to places that don't give a fuck, like Viet Nam and other South-East Asian countries desperate for foreign investment.
posted by chunking express at 6:41 AM on October 22, 2008


without starting a derail, a lot of young boys are simply supporting an extended family or have other reasons to be either working instead of going to school or on the streets. there's so welfare or social security out there in the wilds of poor india
posted by infini at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2008


sorry, that's "there's NO social security or welfare"
posted by infini at 6:50 AM on October 22, 2008


adamvasco: "How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million. How many people in India try to exist on under a $1.25 a day? Answer: over 400 million. How much does this suck? Answer: Plenty."

I would argue that having doing serious science and engineering projects in India helps the country as a whole. India has a serious brain drain problem so giving the best and brightest citizens a reason so stay home and work for their country would seem like a good thing.
posted by octothorpe at 6:51 AM on October 22, 2008


How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million.

It now costs more to make a movie about going to the moon than to actually go to the moon.
posted by Herodios at 7:20 AM on October 22, 2008 [7 favorites]


A moon rocket is an instrument of foreign policy. The ability to launch an object into orbit around the moon and return even the most trivial scientific data implies a corresponding ability to land a large object anywhere on the face of the earth. When you are a nuclear state, that implication has teeth. On the positive side, moon rockets aren't aggressive. They don't blow anyone up (if all goes well), and aren't targeted at anyone.

The last year or two of moon missions is a demonstration that Japan, China, and now India can now sit down with their big sticks and play enlightened superpower. Pakistan may still have nuclear weapons, but they can't even hold an orderly election much less deliver a device precisely.


I think the issue of feeding the hungry is completely orthogonal to money. Living on $1.25 a day is not a bad thing if you are getting sufficient nutrition. It is very possible to live on a dollar a day in Seattle, and food certainly isn't cheap here. A dollar a day in India could be much better, or much worse. The real issue is efficiency of food production and distribution. Producing enough food for the world isn't a problem. Transporting it from the industrialized first world farms to hungry mouths around the world is. Alternately, increasing the efficiency of local farming so that long distance transport is also a problem.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:35 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Going to the moon develops a national infrastructure and economy that will feed a nation forever.
Feeding people on the street directly does nothing other than ensure their children will be hungry as well.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:37 AM on October 22, 2008


Sorry, b1tr0t, but you are very much mistaken. India isn't a super-power any more than China is "enlightened" in the eyes of the world. Frankly, India has room to improve on its social outlook, too, but with neighbors like Pakistan and China, the comparisons are bound to be fairly rosy.
Also: $1.25 goes a whole lot further in India than Seattle, certainly, but there is also an awful lot of malnutrition going around. $1.25 will buy you a day's worth of vegetables and carbs, but no where near enough protein.

As someone who found the idea of a massive national Olympic training facility in India repugnant for the same reasons outlines above, this idea I have a hard time opposing. This is the sort of idea that gets India moving in the direction into which most Indians I know want it to be moving. Far more than a rich boy shooting a target across a room with a BB gun better than anyone else, entering space brings India positive attention from around the world. I say, up the ante, and land an orange, white and green flag, next to that old plastic one with the stripes and the blue square.

I can only imagine how excited people are by this, in India. I would bet it is all anybody could talk about. I wish I could be there, to see the looks on people's face; nobody in the States gets so overwhelmed with pride and joy when the USA does something.
posted by paisley henosis at 8:21 AM on October 22, 2008


adamvasco writes "How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million. How many people in India try to exist on under a $1.25 a day? Answer: over 400 million. How much does this suck? Answer: Plenty."

I'd say not so much. The money spent on the moon shot would have raise the standard of living for those 400 million by ~20% for a single day. IE: on an annual basis essentially not at all.

Long term space is the only solution to dwindling resources on earth (short of magic development of total matter conversion). Spending this money is helping India long term.
posted by Mitheral at 8:50 AM on October 22, 2008


There's some talk of this being a surveying mission for Helium 3, which could end up being the key to fusion power on Earth. that'd be kind of a big deal.

My daughters name is India. Every night after bathtime we carry her out and look for the moon, and if it's not hiding behind clouds she points at it and says "mooon! mooon!".
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Harrison Schmitt, the last man to have walked on the moon, is very big on the whole mining for He 3 idea.
posted by Artw at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2008


If you want to complain about money spend on the military rather than feeding people, I'm with you. But this is money spent on science, research, and development that could have offshoots that one day benefit those starving millions in ways that we can't even foresee. After all, as Ben Franklin said of the hot air balloon, what good is a newborn baby?
posted by vibrotronica at 9:44 AM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


India's spaceport is gorgeous. No barren looking like the American and US ports.
posted by Mitheral at 9:44 AM on October 22, 2008


He3 is a public relations canard. We can't even get the tritium fusion reaction working, let alone the (harder) He3 reaction. I think the moon is cool enough without having to invoke fusion power.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:07 AM on October 22, 2008


Hey, commercial fusion power is just twenty years away! (and always will be, as the joke goes)
posted by Artw at 10:15 AM on October 22, 2008


India's spaceport is gorgeous. No barren looking like the American and US ports.

Yeah, but the ISRO's Web site is horrendous. See Ageispolis' fourth link in the original post.
posted by bitteroldman at 10:15 AM on October 22, 2008


In this case I think the arguement about feeding the poor versus space exploration is very nicely summed up by the old 'teach a man to fish' adage, in two ways.

1. We need to get off this rock at somepoint, better start learning how now.

2. High-tech missions of science and discovery are exactly the type of things that can help India get out of the situation where people are existing on $1.25/day.
posted by Cosine at 12:18 PM on October 22, 2008


"How much does it cost to go the moon? Answer: $86 million. How many people in India try to exist on under a $1.25 a day? Answer: over 400 million. How much does this suck? Answer: Plenty."

You can't assume X dollars is going to lead to a proportional increase in the standard of living. Throwing money at poverty doesn't work very well; especially in a country that isn't 1st world outside of the cities. You need to invest in your society. Money spent on science helps industries, provides jobs and (indirectly) spurs pure research that can lead to breakthroughs. It also gives a reason for more of India's native scientists to stay home- creating more affluence and attracting business and industry.

This leads to the growth of "incidental" sectors of the economy- more industry means more farms to feed the workers, more lawyers to represent firms, more environmental agency jobs to monitor them and hell, more janitors to sweep and more dry cleaners for all those new executives.

Public funds spent wisely can lead to a far greater return in the form of private/capitalist wealth generation. And the private sector- when regulated and fairly taxed- is still the best means to increase a nation's economic well being.
posted by spaltavian at 4:00 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to concur with Adamvasco. Is it any more obscene to me that India has a space programme over and above China, Russia or the US? I'm not sure it is.

Maybe you could stop wasting money on an Internet connection while there are starving kids in Africa.

Can anyone tell me why so much our junk in America is made in China? It seems to me that we should trying to be India's best pals in the whole world

The Indians keep committing the unforgivable sin, during the Cold War period, of wanting to act like an independent state, rather than a proxy of a soft Imperial power. That didn't go down so well with the US, whose foreign policy has long been more favourable towards tractable mass-murdering dictators like Franco and Pinochet, than to democracies that won't always do what they're told.

Sad, but true.
posted by rodgerd at 4:54 PM on October 22, 2008


b1tr0t: It is very possible to live on a dollar a day in Seattle,

Ummm, is there a part of Seattle I don't know about? I mean, I'm not saying you couldn't, but if you can I'd really like to hear how. That would be worthy of a post on the front page.
posted by tom_r at 5:20 PM on October 22, 2008


You are right you can eat in seattle for a dollar a day, assuming you make big batches of food and freeze them. You could probably get creative with couch surfing to drive your living cost down, but with housing you probably can't get below $10 a day in seattle.

Regardless, my point is that comparing dollars isn't very useful. The question should really be about how much nutrition people are getting and if that amount isn't enough, what are the blocking issues? My guess is that building a moon rocket is much easier than figuring out how to get sufficient food to everyone in India.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:35 PM on October 22, 2008


b1tr0t is right that a country being able to launch a rocket into space is something that all the world's military leaders watch for very carefully. There's a reason that the US and USSR once competed so hard with their space programs. As b1tr0t said, countries that can launch a rocket into space can also launch a missile to any spot on the earth--a capability that sets them apart militarily.

I love space programs, so it is a shame, but it's the truth.
posted by eye of newt at 8:47 PM on October 22, 2008


It just struck me to ask, do any of those who put down India's achievement stop to think to ask how it sounds to Indians when you patronize them with your advice on where to put their money? just wondering...
posted by infini at 10:17 PM on October 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Memo to NASA: Thank you and please COME AGAIN
posted by DU at 5:28 AM on October 23, 2008


The cost of the US election is apparently 5 billion dollars. I think Americans complaining about how the Indian government is spending its money need to direct their energy elsewhere.
posted by chunking express at 6:27 AM on October 23, 2008


on one hand we could buy Ms Palin a new wardrobe OR we could send a cheap moon rocket up into space... *ponders deeply*
posted by infini at 6:52 AM on October 23, 2008


nobody in the States gets so overwhelmed with pride and joy when the USA does something

Not to derail, but...no. Actually, there are a lot of Americans who react this way to American scientific accomplishments.

Anyway, hats off to India for joining the Space Club. With any luck, this heralds the beginning of a new, and less military-focused, age of human and robotic space exploration.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:30 AM on October 23, 2008


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