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July, 15

ISRO Chandrayaan 3: Isro’s shoestring budget raises million-dollar question. It’s a secret, says chief post Chandrayaan-3 success | India News

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BENGALURU: Every time an Isro rocket takes off or a mission like Chandrayaan-3 is completed, project comparisons — even with movies — become commonplace. While the exact cost of a space mission is hard to determine given that most countries subsidise space activities, Chandrayaan-3 is estimated to have cost 600 crore. For a comparison, Russia’s Luna-25, which crashed last Sunday, cost 1,600 crore, though Chandrayaan-3 took 40 days to reach Moon, while Luna was to land on the 11th day.
How does India do it? “That’s a secret,” said Isro chairman S Somanath in half jest after Vikram’s touchdown on Wednesday. TOI spoke to a host of Isro scientists to find answers. While all of them said it was improper to compare a science mission with another, they all agreed that three factors make Isro’s missions cost-effective: Indigenisation, ingenuity and affordable manpower.

03:41

HISTORIC! India conquers the Moon, Chandrayaan 3 lands successfully; India now joins the Elite Space Club

Comparing Chandrayaan-3 with Luna-25, the biggest savings India made was on the rocket. Russia used an additional booster to give Luna-25 an extra push, allowing it to be propelled straight into the trans-lunar insertion (TLI) phase, while India had to do several Earth-bound manoeuvres before TLI.

The cost-saving here, Isro scientists say, was on propulsion. “The bigger the rocket, the more you spend,” a former director said. Former Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan said Isro has a “modular philosophy” to build one upon another: “We use systems and structures with legacy to build the next rockets and satellites. There are a lot of common systems in GSLV that came from PSLV; we use common satellite bus structures while building spacecraft,” he said.
A former director said this ensures reduction of development cost for launch vehicles and satellites.

Isro has a good indigenisation record. “A lot of indigenisation has taken place in rocket building. It’s about 90% for a PSLV,” Somanath had said earlier. Isro’s import is mostly electronics. A former associate director explained: “The model NASA followed right from the beginning is to give specifications, let big industries build rockets and satellites and then purchase them. This involves high cost. In India, Isro makes most things in-house and industry is used as vendors. Here, the cost is low.”

Isro former chairman K Sivan said the biggest advantage India has over the US, Russia and Europe is the manpower cost. A former Isro director added: “It’s almost one-tenth of the cost in a developed country, though our scientists and engineers are as good as any other.”
Sivan said the way Isro tests also helps save on cost. “We are very optimal when it comes to tests,” said the former chairman. The former director elaborated: “Our testing is done with a lot of risk analysis and simulation. Europeans conduct around eight tests to qualify a motor or engine, we are able to qualify with two tests, at best three, which saves a lot of money in terms of hardware costs.”

Watch Chandrayaan-3 shares footage of how the Moon looked like prior to landing





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