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Foreign media on Mars mission: A technological leap

November 06, 2013 12:10 IST

India's successful launch of its Mars mission has been described by the mainstream American media as "technological leap" and "a symbolic coup" against China in this field.

"If it succeeds, India's Mars mission would represent a technological leap for the South Asia nation, pushing it ahead of space rivals China and Japan in the field of interplanetary exploration," The Wall Street Journal wrote on Tuesday.

"A successful mission by India's Mars orbiter would make the country the first Asian nation to reach the Red Planet -- and provide a symbolic coup as neighbouring China steps up its ambitions in space," the CNN reported, adding that this has given further credence to claims of an intensifying space race developing in Asia, with potentially dangerous ramifications.

"I believe India's leadership sees China's recent accomplishments in space science as a threat to its status in Asia, and feels the need to respond," Dr James Clay Moltz, professor at the United States Naval Postgraduate School, told the CNN.

The satellite launched by Indian Space Research Organisation on Tuesday is expected to enter the Mars orbit next September and is at a significantly lower cost than that of other countries like the United States.

The cost of the Mars mission is $73 million, less than a sixth of the amount earmarked for a Mars probe by NASA that will launch later this month.

The popular National Public Radio wrote as to why the India’s Mars mission is cheaper than that of the NASA. One reason could be the salary of its engineers and scientists, it said. While the mean annual income for an aeronautical engineer in the United States is just under 1$05,000, the higher end scale for Indian engineers is less than $20,000.

"I think labour is the biggest factor, as well as the complexity of the mission. It takes a whole team of engineers," David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute told NPR.

Image: India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying the Mars orbiter, blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikot

Photograph: Babu/Reuters

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