Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Indian Space Program

Randeep Ramesh has an artilce on India's space program. Ramesh also discusses the Chinese space program and its plans for a manned mission to the Moon.

Selected quote:

In India, the space programme has become a symbol of technical prowess and self-sufficiency. Used to infuse the nation with pride at matching first-world powers in scientific fields, Isro has been feted by all the political par ties as proof that India can transcend poverty. Notably the country's president, APJ Abdul Kalam, started his career as an Isro engineer, although he made his name developing ballistic missiles.

Warming relations between Washington and Delhi are likely to accelerate Isro's development. In September, the Bush administration announced it would remove Isro from a US export restriction list, which regulates sales of dual-use technologies- those that can be used both for civil and military purposes.

Analysts say this decision should result in a three-fold increase in hi-tech imports from the US and speed up collaboration with Boeing to build communication satellites.

The commercial imperative is plain for all to see. Nair points out that Isro pays scientists $600 (£340) a month. "That is a respectable salary in Bangalore and one that gives you a reasonable standard of living. It is not the same for western countries."

Billions of people live on $1 per day and a rocket scientist in India makes $600 per month. Now I really feel like a fat-cat American.

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