India blasted into the international space race Wednesday with the successful launch of an ambitious two-year mission to study the moon’s landscape.
The unmanned lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1, or “moon craft” in ancient Sanskrit, launched at 6:20 a.m. (8:50 p.m. ET) from the Sriharikota space center in southern India.
The mission seeks high-resolution imaging of the moon’s surface, especially the permanently shadowed polar regions, according to the Indian Space Research Organization. It will also search for evidence of water or ice and attempt to identify the chemical breakdown of certain lunar rocks, the group said.
And the best part is…….
The Chandrayaan-1 is carrying payloads from the United States, European Union countries Germany, Britain, Sweden and Bulgaria, and India plans to share the data from the mission with other programs, including NASA.
And the most inane part is………..
Critics of the mission have questioned its $80 million price tag, saying the money should have been spent by the government to improve education and fight poverty.
Of course the critics do not account for the fact that the PR advantages of this launch for education and science. Nope, they want to spend millions of dollars on education like they always have….
The government’s education expenditure as a percentage of GDP (blue line in Figure 1) has never ever risen above 4.3% of GDP, despite the target of 6% having been set as far back as 1968 by the Kothari Commission.