Bangalore: ISRO has said that the moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, would not be expensive at all, since it would allow India to upgrade its technological expertise for outer space exploration, and will also facilitate setting up a base on the Earth's Moon.
ISRO spokesperson S Satish has said that the moon mission's cost is lesser than Rs400 crore, totalling around ten per cent of ISRO's annual budget spread over many years. He was seeking to counter critics of the moon mission, who question the need for such the mission on account of the satellite having been explored by other countries already.
Satish said that the cost of India's first unmanned lunar mission, which is scheduled for 22 October, is around Rs386 crore. He said this includes Rs100 crore that would be spent on establishing the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) at Byalalu near Bangalore, which will receive radio signals transmitted by future satellites as well, and not just Chandrayaan-1.
He said that previous moon missions that were undertaken by other countries have had limited sharing of information, and that it is no secret that expertise of that nature are not shared. He said it therefore becomes imperative for India to undertake the lunar mission by itself, else it would stand to lose out in the race for the Moon.
The mission will also allow ISRO to upgrade its technological expertise in its journey towards the exploration of outer space and for future inter-planetary missions.
ISRO sources also said that Chandrayaan-1, being a scientific project, would not need any insurance cover. Consequently, ISRO has not applied for any insurance cover for the mission.
On 22 October, the one and a half tonne indigenous Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft will lift off for its mission to the moon, subject to the suitability of the weather. Chandrayaan-1 will take a little over a week to travel approximately 240,000 miles to reach its destined orbit 60 miles above the lunar surface. A crash landing of a lunar vehicle onto the moon's surface is also planned.
Insurance industry sources say that the cost of insuring space launches is almost prohibitively high on account of the high rate of failure. Moreover, they point out that most of the risk needs to be reinsured as Indian markets do not have the depth to cover launches by themselves. The premium varies between a quarter and a third of the sum assured as a result of the high risk. Self insurance is a better option for ISRO, says sources, as it has a good track record of launches.
The claims scenario in satellite launches also varies between zero and 100 per cent, since the launch can either be a success or a failure. Insurance for space launches has been gaining prominence on account of the use of satellite communication in most businesses. Chandrayaan-1 being a scientific mission, does not have business implications, and therefore does not need insurance as much as other, more commercial ventures do.