India's proposed Mars mission in November would boost New Delhi's credentials to become a partner in international ventures of such kind in the future besides achieving its scientific objectives and demonstrating capability, veteran space scientist K Kasturirangan said.
Planning Commission Member Kasturirangan, who was also former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, said while the mission is indeed a logical extension of the country’s planetary exploration programme, it’s more than just a "technical bonanza." He saw the event is as an attempt by India to upgrade and up-rate established capabilities (in the space sector) and demonstrating in a scale in which it’s affordable, noting that the cost of the unmanned orbiter venture is no more than Rs450 crore.
"Once you show an affordable scale of the activity, then you qualify yourself to be a partner of international programme. So, when future manned missions or even future important missions to Mars take pace, India would be part of the global community because you have already demonstrated that you have reached the place (Mars)," Kasturirangan told PTI.
The mission, therefore, has several dimensions – objective of conducting scientific experiments, demonstrating technological capabilities and creating necessary credentials to be a part of any future international space missions, he felt.
According to ISRO officials, the proposed mission to demonstrate India’s capability to reach Martian orbit is planned to be completed by 2015-2016.
The Mars orbiter is planned for launch using India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It will be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars and will have a provision for carrying nearly 25 kg of scientific payloads onboard, they said.
On concerns in sections of the Indian space establishment about China "forging ahead" in the area of space, with New Delhi "lagging behind", Kasturirangan dismissed suggestions of a space race between the two countries.
"We have never been at competition with China. We have our own pace. We have our own priorities. There are many things in which we have scored very high in terms of international reckoning, the use of space for socio-economic sectors, and we are one of the well organised systems in the world in terms of getting mission benefits out a shoe-string budget…", he said.
Kasturirangan underlined that India’s space programme is guided by the country’s own requirements and the nation has world-class remote sensing and communication satellites and rocket developments are contemporary in nature.