India’s first manned space mission to cost $1.4 billion

Vastavam web: India said on Tuesday it expected to spend less than 100 billion rupees ($1.43 billion) on its first manned space mission to be launched by 2022, suggesting it is likely to be cheaper than similar projects by the United States and China. India is cultivating a reputation as a low-cost space power, after the 2014 launch of an unmanned Mars mission at a cost of $74 million, or less than the budget of the Hollywood space blockbuster “Gravity” and a fraction of the $671 million the U.S. space agency NASA spent on its MAVEN Mars mission.

“ISRO has developed some critical technologies like re-entry mission capability, crew escape system, crew module configuration, thermal protection system, deceleration and floatation system, sub-systems of life support system etc required for this programme,” the statement said. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said the agency had “perfected the engineering aspects of the mission”, although it was new to the field of bioscience – dealing with living beings.

India’s neighbour and old rival China first sent humans to space in 2003, becoming only the third country to have such capability after Russia and the United States. China’s Shenzhou program is secretively run through military and government agencies and its budget is not public. In 2003, officials said it had cost 18 billion yuan here ($2.62 billion). Earlier this month, NASA unveiled its analysis of data collected from lunar orbit by an Indian spacecraft. The findings marked the first time scientists confirmed by direct observation the presence of water on the moon’s surface – in hundreds of patches of ice deposited in the darkest and coldest reaches of its polar regions.