In business, the phrase “You have to spend money, to make money.” is very commonly used and it is also a very true statement. You have to look the part… you have to dress for success… you have invest in marketing so people will invest in you.
On Tuesday, November 5, 2013; India launched a mission on Mars at the tune of $72 Millions dollars. Here is a very good article from USA Today which speaks on the issues, as well as some points that I’m going to bring up in just a moment.
I was listening to NPR… I LOVE ME SOME NPR! [Stated in my best Cyborg voice from Teen Titans.] … When I first heard about this story, my first questions was… “But what about…?” Almost on queue, the NPR News person answered the question I had rolling around in my head. He talked about the criticism that India was getting for this Mars Mission when the 1.2 BILLION… that is BILLION with a B…. BILLION people struggle with poverty and hungry. As the article began to close, the news man said something to the effect that, the India government defended their position saying that such an project would bring tech jobs and other business to India.
As I have stated before, I am not an Indian government official… NOR am I a resident of India… thus I cannot claim to clearly understand their thought process; so I can only give my limited perspective on this issue.
Cyborg Voice: Look! Whatever Man. You just do your thing.
BigBaba Voice: Cool. Well… let me get back to it then.
Here is what I’m wondering about this situation. The US has launched a number of very successful missions to Mars. (More Information on the Mars Exploration Program) Several of the Mariner missions, Viking 1 & 2, Mars Global Surveyor, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Odyssey, and of course our favorite rovers still rolling around on the surface of the Red Planet. Why not partner with the U.S. or some other country and funnel most of those funds to the people in need?
Granted, the U.S. also sends large amounts of aide and funds to other countries instead of funding education, healthcare, and housing programs; BUT… that is a discussion for another blog post.
It is true that funding such large scale projects not only bring outside business to the regions, and also creates jobs in that sector. But I think that you really have to weigh the long term economic impact versus the immediate (and long term) impact on the populous.
There is one other KEY element which bothers me about this issue. According to the USA Today article, one of the stated purposes of this mission is:
“The orbiter will gather images and data that will help in determining how Martian weather systems work and what happened to the large quantities of water that are believed to have once existed on Mars.”
Excuse me, but… errr… ah…. Even though the Mars Climate Observer… “supposedly” crashed. The U.S. has tons of photos of Mars and has plans on doing more climate missions. Check out the past and future mission list from JPL. The Mars rovers are unearthing new information about the history of wars more often.
It’s not to say that people have to partner with the U.S. It’s not like the U.S. knows everyone or has all the answers or even the best technology. Maybe the U.S. needs to partner with India, that way everyone wins. More money for the people and the mysteries of outer space continue to get revealed.
As I close the article, I want to make one thing very very clear. I LOVE ME SOME SPACE EXPLORATION. [Cyborg Voice: Me too, Baby.] I spent more time in the National Air and Space Museum as a kid than i did all the other museums combined. I firmly support agencies like NASA, because scientific innovation, and exploration are essential to our evolution. There are those who would pull funding from the National Science Foundation and NASA because it’s politically correct. Sometimes people fail to see the importance of scientific discovery. There is a time and a place for everything. Our leaders have to balance the priorities of the Nation. I’m sure that Indian government is having a very similar conversation about priorities.