India is over the moon about its mission to Mars

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Marco Werman: I'm Marco Werman. This is "The World". And this pretty much says it all about India's accomplishment today, putting a spacecraft into orbit around Mars - It cost less than the budget for the movie "Gravity". Rahul Joglekar is in London, but he's been following the excitement over India's Mars Orbiter Mission known affectionately as "MOM". Rahul, you're Indian. What are you feeling today? Rahul Joglekar: You know, Marco, I'm feeling a lot of pride. And this in many ways represents something that is very typically Indian. If you've seen the photographs that have come from the control center, women, Sikhs, scientists and engineers from all over the country who have kind of gathered in that one room. These are scientists who have managed to put that orbiter into space and it kind of represents a real big achievement for modern India. The second thing is the ambition. This is Indian ambition for you. I mean you may be stuck in a traffic jam, you may have no water in your taps, but you're still dreaming about the stars, and for you the sky is the limit, literally. This is very typical Indian ambition. And the third thing is the cost. I mean if you may remember, there was a car that Tata had launched a few years ago which is called the "Tata Nano". Werman: Yeah, right. Joglekar: This is really the Tata Nano of space rover missions. I mean it's so cheap, about one-tenth the cost of its American counterpart. So in all these ways this is a really typical Indian achievement. And that's why, from a very personal perspective, I feel very proud about what's happened. Werman: Well, also typical from what I hear anyway is that a lot of Indians kind of did not expect this to work. I mean the fact that it did work, did that kind of quiet the cynics? Joglekar: Yeah, I mean chances of failing in a mission like this are pretty high. So I mean I saw in an interview with a scientist in Indian television kind of managing expectations of a lot of people, saying that these missions fail fifty percent of the time and this may not happen, it may be that this mission may not work the first time, but we're on the case, this may work the second time or the third time. And there wasn't a really big announcement or anything on the day prior to this thing going into orbit. There was a bit of nervous excitement if I can put it that way. And the fact that it did actually go into orbit and it was all successful, the Prime Minister was very much there to make sort of his speech. And immediately it was a really big media moment because I was watching Indian television and all of a sudden a news presenter said, "OK. We have some breaking news coming in." And they had all these fancy graphics and photographs. And it was a really big media moment, yes. Werman: So do you have any insight on how India managed to get this spacecraft into Mars' orbit for so little money? A tenth of what NASA's MAVEN mission cost. Joglekar: The difference between the two is that this can carry only about fifteen kilograms. That's what I've been told. And that's why it's very light. So essentially that's where the difference in cost comes in. What India has done is it's focused its energy on creating a space rover that doesn't compete but complements already what America has done. Werman: Even if it was a tenth of NASA's MAVEN mission, it was still a seventy-five million dollar expense to get this spacecraft into Mars' orbit. I mean you're an intelligent Indian man. Make the case for me why this investment in space exploration can benefit the majority of your country. Joglekar: I think there are two reasons, Marco. The one is a reason you cannot put any cost on. India's space program is an emotional program. For a lot of Indians, they want to see India's place in the world restored to, in a historical sense, to what it used to be three or four centuries ago, when India was called the "Sone ki Chidiya" which translates from Hindi to the "Golden Bird", as a nation that was kind of a beacon of a lot of scientific achievement and was looked at as a real torch-bearer for everything to do with mathematics and science. India also looks at this as something that it can make a lot of money out of. India wants to position itself as the country you go to for low-cost space technology. And that's what essentially, you'll see this in the next few years. India will begin to market itself once it knows it can do these specific things and get them right. It wants to occupy that space as a low cost option for other countries to import these technologies. So it's not only emotional. Werman: Our old friend, reporter Rahul Joglekar, on India's Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entering Mars' orbit. I feel like I need to say congratulations to you, Rahul, even though you're not an astronaut, but there you go. Thanks very much. Joglekar: Thanks, Marco. Thank you.