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ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission to cost lesser than Hollywood movie Interstellar - here's how they make it cost-effective

ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan reveals what makes missions of the Indian space agency extremely cost-effective.

February 20, 2018 / 12:42 PM IST
This three-image mosaic handout photo is the highest resolution view ever obtained of the north polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The view looks southward over cratered plains from high above the north pole of Enceladus. Cassini spacecraft took the image on March 12, 2008, when it flew over the surface of the moon as part of a joint U.S.-European mission. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 20,000 miles (32,000 km) above Enceladus.   REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute  (UNITED STATES).  NO COMMERCIAL SALES.. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.. - GM1E43E0V9B01

This three-image mosaic handout photo is the highest resolution view ever obtained of the north polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The view looks southward over cratered plains from high above the north pole of Enceladus. Cassini spacecraft took the image on March 12, 2008, when it flew over the surface of the moon as part of a joint U.S.-European mission. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 20,000 miles (32,000 km) above Enceladus. REUTERS/NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute (UNITED STATES). NO COMMERCIAL SALES.. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.. - GM1E43E0V9B01

Chandrayaan-2, the lunar mission under which the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will for the first time attempt to land a rover on the moon's south pole, costs lesser than a Hollywood sci-fi movie ‘Interstellar’.

ISRO's Chandrayaan-2 mission's cost is Rs 800 crore, which is lesser than the budget of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 release whose production cost was around Rs 1,062 crore ($165 million). However, it is not the first time that ISRO has achieved this feat.

ISRO’s earlier mission, Mangalyaan, was also cheaper than another Hollywood space movie 'Gravity'. The mission cost that was launched in 2013 cost Rs 470 crore whereas the George Clooney-starrer movie’s budget was Rs 644 crore ($100 million).

This surely showcases the cost-effectiveness of ISRO’s space missions. But, how do they manage this? ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan has an answer. In an interview with The Times of India, Dr Sivan revealed four important factors for the frugal nature of missions.

“Simplifying the system, miniaturising the complex big system, strict quality control and maximising output from a product, make the missions of Indian space agency cost-effective," said Dr Sivan.

Explaining it further in the report, he said that at ISRO, they keep an eye on the entire process of development of a spacecraft or a rocket. This helps to cut down any wastage of products and thus, the cost of mission remains economical.

The ISRO chairman also discussed the tentative date of Chandrayaan-2 launch. As of now, the space agency is planning to launch the mission in April. However, it will be finalised after taking into consideration the factors like moon's relative position with respect to the Earth.

If the mission could not launch in April, the next suitable time will be in November. According to Dr Sivan, they are trying for a dawn-to-dusk landing, which is not possible anytime between April and November due to moon eclipses.
first published: Feb 20, 2018 12:39 pm