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A Win for India’s Space Program

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 25, 2009

There was some embarrassment in India after the untimely end of the country’s first mission to the Moon last month. The unmanned Chandrayaan-I spacecraft, which was supposed to last for two years, fell out of radio contact while in orbit around the Moon in late August, just ten months after its launch. That prompted some defensiveness from a fansite of the Indian Space Research Organization, which quickly played damage control by claiming the mission had accomplished much of its goals. said in a statement that it’s “not unusual” for things to go wrong in space. “NASA has faced several space mission failures and who can forget tragic end of space shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to landing.” * In other words, yes, our space mission crashed – but at least nobody died!

Now, though, ISRO fans don’t have to resort to poor-taste defensiveness. Indeed, Indians can crow that their nascent space program, through its short-lived Chandrayaan-I, has helped make one of the most important discoveries in the history of human exploration of the Moon. A NASA probe aboard the Chandrayaan-I detected water on the Moon’s surface, and the Indian press is euphoric. “One Big Step for India, One Giant Leap for Mankind,” crowed the Times of India. “If it weren’t for them (ISRO), we wouldn’t have been able to make this discovery,” the paper quoted Carle Pieters, the Brown University researcher who analyzed the data from the NASA probe, saying.

Unfortunately for ISRO, the agency won’t be able to capitalize quickly on the discovery. The next Indian space mission, the Chandrayaan-2 isn’t scheduled to launch until 2013. That means India would be behind China in a 21st-century Asian version of the U.S.-Soviet Union space race. The Chinese ended their first lunar mission earlier this year after 16 months and plan on landing a craft on the Moon in 2012. Japan’s in the race, too, having just completed its first lunar mission. In this Asian race, the Chinese seem to have the edge, but for now the engineers in India’s program can boast that their first mission turned out pretty well after all.

* Updated September 29

Reader Comments


September 25, 2009 7:18 AM

What a bad piece of journalism. Your sarcasm is astounding. Yes. Indian press were all harping about the "water discovery" on monn by the Chandryaan probe, after the weeks of ISRO bashing. But you are no better, instead of congratulating and rejoicing at the dicovery of water albeit a very important one. You arr resorting to cheap comparisns to take the sheen out of ISRO's success. Let Chinese have the edge, everything will culminate on the year 2020 when India will land its manned mission on moon. By the year 2013 first batch of Indian space institute's highly able and brilliant students will be joining ISRO. I am excited to see what they will accomplish. Either way USA will be out of the space picture by then. So, you may ass well get used to seeing Indian's racing towards moon. I am sorry for all the heartburn and jealousy it might cause. First ITES/IT and now this.


September 25, 2009 8:14 AM

Author care to explain from where he lifted this quote

“NASA has faced several space mission failures and who can forget tragic end of space shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to landing.”

Don’t resort to poor-taste reporting

Vijay Menon

September 25, 2009 9:02 AM

I just can't help wondering if this is such a big deal. I mean, its understandable that NASA and ISRO are a little hyper about this discovery (provided its not fool's gold). After all both organizations take a lot of heat from skeptics who question the returns on their multi-million dollar jaunts in space. But when I hear their spokesmen on TV talking about extracting water from the moon and colonizing it, and I have to ask, are these guys nuts? Space program, okay. Pie-in-the-sky projects, not on tax payers money!

Phillips Anderson

September 25, 2009 9:28 AM

Its really a big mile stone for India.

Its rally between India and developed Countries now.

This should continue if India would want to be a developed country.

Saquib Hussain

September 25, 2009 9:29 AM

I doubt if the focus would be in space exploration, or more budget to address the fundamental issues?


September 25, 2009 9:50 AM

It didnt fell of the orbit. Isro lost communication with the craft which is still in orbit and it is expected to crash in moon in few years.


September 25, 2009 10:14 AM

Commendable achievements by India on both counts (moon mission and satellites launch). Pakistan needs to devote more efforts towards space exploration too. Instead of individual Asian nations going it alone in space, why don't we all set up an Asian Space Agency by pooling the resources of Asian nations that have space programs? In this way, China, Japan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, (and others) can pool their resources and achieve more in space.


September 25, 2009 11:45 AM

It was in poor taste to compare the early termination of Chandrayaan to Columbia crash. As an Indian, I was surprised and embarrassed that ISRO would make such a statement. I tried to look it up and the only reference I can find is on the website which is not related to ISRO in any way. I admire the sacrifice that the astronauts in Columbia did for the sake of humanity, may their souls rest in peace.

gabe, san diego

September 25, 2009 11:56 AM

That's fantastic,....but perhaps India should first build toilets so half of its people dont defecate in the streets.....


September 25, 2009 12:11 PM

America needs to get off it's backside and get serious about space exploration! Otherwise we may see something we don't like aimed at us from outer space!

An Indian

September 25, 2009 12:57 PM

This proves that when we collaborate, we succeed!

There should be more colaboration between NASA, JAXA, ESA, ISRO, S. Koreans, Brazilians, Russians.


September 25, 2009 1:08 PM

In the US-USSR space race, democratic US initially was behind and communist USSR had the edge.


September 25, 2009 2:33 PM

Proud of what ? It's a US probe that discovered the water, not indian. The indian contribution (the flying "box") was a total failure: And still feel proud ?


September 25, 2009 4:56 PM

Such a biased and sarcastic tone for such an important discovery for the world. On top of that, Bruce can't handle the criticism. Thats why deleting my comments.

What a sad state is BW in?


September 25, 2009 5:02 PM

Nice find indeed. Congratulations for a job well done. Now to the Times of India, one giant step for mankind is a bit much. Have you paid Armstrong for that line? :)


September 25, 2009 6:20 PM

The article has an ugly tone.


September 25, 2009 6:39 PM

India could not do it alone.Two deep space tracking radars in the U.S and one in Russia had to get involved.


September 25, 2009 6:48 PM

Ah...China vs India again. Well at least with Nasa help Indian can claims the mission is not a complete failure and waste of tax payer money. After all its Nasa explorer attached to the Chandrayaan-1 that discover the findings.

As for the competition ah well, since when India ever beat the far east? Now the target is China as the competitor the ohhlala bogeyman. But really, in the far east there really isnt much to compete they beat India in almost all fields and that include space faring nations.


September 25, 2009 10:50 PM

I would like to see India installing some toilets for its people and some replacing some slums before sending any more space craft.


September 25, 2009 10:55 PM

Instead of spending billions on space, India should spend same money on schools , health care, irrigations projects, raods and power projects.

Commie Stooge

September 26, 2009 9:04 AM

I've been a SF Fan since 1973, and my favorite author was the late Isaac Asimov; who died in 1994.
In the last few years of his life, Isaac would talk about seeing man again walk on the Moon in his lifetime.
Sadly, Isaac would never see that event.
This year, I hit age 50 myself; and now I'm wondering if I'll ever see man walk on the Moon myself!
Frankly I don't mind if that man would be Russian; Chinese; or Indian (I suspect it will be a joint venture of several nations).
Isaac also described writing a novel about a future lunar landing where the astronauts "discover" the remains of Apollo 11.
I wonder when that novel will be written.


September 26, 2009 9:19 AM

Poorly written and factually incorrect article. The MIP discovered water signatures in November last year. ISRO never crowed. HySI also discovered water signatures. ISRO has not crowed. The NASA funded, Brown University made M3 has results published. There is a lot of data generated by CY. They are still to be published. ISRO is a very humble organization. Why don't you see what the Chinese lunar mission has to offer? 3 photographs of poor resolution in the public domain. Japans Kaguya? Claimed there was no water on the moon. Well ISRO has every damned right to be proud of it's effort. It did'nt even come into the joint press conference that declared the discovery. Wow..cannot imagine reporters write with so much of a grudge.


September 26, 2009 9:40 AM

Chinese seem to have the edge over India in most things


September 26, 2009 9:41 AM

Chinese seem to have the edge over India in most areas.


September 26, 2009 10:00 PM

Only BusienssWeek can call a bust a "win".


September 26, 2009 11:11 PM

Well, Indians are now strongly enthused and supportive of further lunar exploration, which is a plus. Unlike the Chinese, the Indians have gone in for more international collaboration, spreading the data and the glory, to feed the wider science community.

Because of the revelations from this first Chandrayaan mission, the next mission will now be altered to direct more explicit investigation towards the water itself. ISRO officialsn, including chief Madhavan Nair, have already announced that they would be seeking to dig below the surface to look for more water underground on the Moon.


September 26, 2009 11:56 PM

Chinese space program is directly linked to their military ambitions, India's is not.

China can bloat about its short termed success, but at the end, karma will catch up and the truth will once again triumph.


September 27, 2009 12:02 AM

Chinese mission is nothing scientific except for propaganda purposes. May be they may put some pictures of Mao in space whereas the Indian space program from it's inspection is dedicated towards the people's benefit especially that of the poor. ISRO has achieved tremendous success in reducing poverty by predicting monsoon , crop patterns, planning, assisting in fisheries and tele-medicine, tele-education facilities using space technology. Today even African nations are benefiting from Tele-education and Tele-medicine facilities. No wonder One big step for India is a giant leap for mankind.

Ian Buller

September 27, 2009 12:48 AM

Bruce, I'm increasingly concerned about your anti-India articles. Its sad to see someone with such strong hatred being worthy of publishing articles on BusinessWeek. I seriously doubt if you are a paid propagandist by the CCP. You should call your blog "Eye on China and everything against India". That'd better suit your evil intentions. And fear the Karma, son.


September 27, 2009 4:51 AM

Discovery of water on moon is indeed a good achievement for ISRO. Though the first human landing on moon was decades back, it is only now that water has been discovered on moon. It doesn't matter who sends the next man / woman on moon. There is enough space for astronauts from every country on moon. What is important is the outcome of these missions. Last week ISRO launched seven satellites into space which included satellites for Germany, Switzerland & others besides India. This is another achievement for ISRO. Its good to international collaboration on space programs amongst many countries.


September 27, 2009 8:04 AM

If I was Bruce Einhorn, I'd crawl into a puddle and drown out of shame.

This is an inaccurate, sneering, cowardly piece of racist writing. It is not journalism.

BW desperately needs fresh editorial staff preferably with integrity.


September 27, 2009 8:10 AM

Bruce your sarcasm is outrageous. The issue isn't whether China has an edge or not. Here are some facts for you:

1. ISRO's Moon Impact Probe (MIP) found traces of water on Moon way back in November 2008. However ISRO waited for the results to be published in a scientific journal, before going public about it. This is an example of humility, not 'crowing'.

2. ISRO did not charge anything for carrying NASA's payload. This is an example of perfect international collaboration.

3. ISRO's programme may or may not have military ambitions, but the space programme has always been skewed targeted to the benefit of India.


September 27, 2009 9:59 AM

Indian Space programme is flourishing, the reason is smart people and democracy, which means freedom to think.


September 27, 2009 10:40 AM

Finally, this commie who has been harping about how great China is over the last decade, now has some good words for India. I never thought this guy was a journalist and BW pays craps shoots like him to pander to China. Here the juice Bruce - who gives a s@#$ what your write about India.


September 27, 2009 10:48 AM

Bruce is a flame thrower who is also a specialist verbal arsonist. to goose up his comscore stats he initiates verbage to heighten controversy where none is needed. A sorry excuse for a journalist necessitates creating Potemkin style stories for cheap thrills


September 27, 2009 11:49 AM

China is good when it comes to manufacturing en masse...from people to fake drugs...when it comes to space programs, India will be the winner in the long term.


September 27, 2009 1:07 PM


I dont know whats your problem with India..guys its not only a important step for India and ISRO..its also a importanat step for humanity..dont always have negative thoughts ..try to appreciate the good findings..and also “NASA has faced several space mission failures and who can forget tragic end of space shuttle Columbia and the crew perished during entry, 16 minutes prior to landing i would really appreciate of you give me an evidence about a ISRO guy telling this...thanks..

Indian American

September 27, 2009 1:12 PM

I have been trying to find your educational background and have been unsuccessful! Could you post it please?

Your articles always have strong anti India sentiment. Why?? Why does it bother you so much?? Chinese in laws??

As for the toilet comment - again why does it concern you?? How about doing better with your time - get a job?


September 27, 2009 4:56 PM

Well the sarcasm here kind of crosses the line. You can always laugh at anybody, but being against a people is unwise.
however, would Americans care about this? How many times did journalists from CNN attack China using untruth?
you are different, they attack you;
you try to be friend and student, they do it all the same.
so, whatever, never mind.


September 27, 2009 9:34 PM

People think that ISRO is spending this amount from the tax amount. Some in the U.K who still believe in the British empire blame it on some aid by British government. The reality is that ISRO makes there own money by launching satellites from other countries helping them to launch their satellites in the shortest time with the cheapest money. The recent launch was that of Oceansat which helps in studying the ocean and finding fisheries zone for the fisherman etc. It also launched 5 more satellites from foreign countries. Way to go ISRO.


September 28, 2009 12:37 AM

I am surprised that highly reputed magazine has allowed a journalist to write a piece in such a bad taste. I have never seen a worst piece. This is fantastic discovery and does not matter who or how it was discovered. Nothing belittles this great discovery than this article. He comes out as a bad politician more than a good journalist. I hope editor of business week notes and takes corrective action. Honestly, I have never been so disappointed by Business week before.


September 28, 2009 1:29 AM

"China seems to have edge over India in most areas", yet it takes an India to (1) come up with a Nano, (2) find water on Moon, (3) rewrite the outsourcing rules, (4) raise the bar on the number of new telephone connections added, (5) Upstage China even on their automobile exports and many other things. So much for China's manufacturing prowress, higher IQ, greater number of patents and journal publications. I, now fully, believe in the adage "a fool with a tool is still a fool".


September 28, 2009 2:18 AM

I fear why all things right from a needle to a space exploration are being seen in "INDIA vs CHINA" mode. Was there any need in this article to specify that who is lacking to whom, can't we see things in favor of mankind. Indeed a remarkable achievement by ISRO, also it not only INDIA or USA who would rejoice this exploration but whole mankind on this planet. bravo INDIA!!!


September 28, 2009 8:34 AM

Hey dork,

You ignorance, stupidity and anti-India rhetoric has been going on for a long time. I wonder why BW still keeps you. May be a loyal India bashing lapdog like you is what they need. You are quoting some random ISRO engineer. Do you expect us to believe you? It will be a crime to expect any honesty or integrity from a dunderhead like you. You are supposed to report news not make them. Chandrayaan fell out of orbit had me falling from my chair and laughing my ass off. How dumb are you? CY1 stopped beaming signals due to some software error, it did not fall out of the orbit for chrissake. And please tell me where are all the pathbreaking discoveries, info and photos taken by the so called Japanese Kaguya and Chinese mooncraft? And WTF NASA were doing for the last 60 years (they send some 15+ probes to the moon), and thye need ISRO's CY1 to finally discover water on moon~!.

Amen to goo Journalism. Let the India bashers RIP>


September 28, 2009 2:13 PM

I don't think Chinese are interested in comparing them to Indians. Chinese and Indians are not in the same category.


September 29, 2009 3:11 AM

Nor do Indians give a rats @$$ about Chinese. I sometimes wonder about this continuous comparison b/w India and China. Who is benefitting from keeping this unnecessary debate alive? Malicious intentions.


September 29, 2009 9:46 AM


If anyone here grew up in the '60s then you will know that the USA was sending rockets w/Satellite or men everyone year. USA engineers were really working hard. Keep in mind over 100 of the top scientists & engineers (ie. Von Braun,...) were German nationals that fled their country after WW II. It might be safe to say that USA probably would not have won the space race to the moon if it were not for them.


September 29, 2009 11:36 AM

You showed you can call names. But can you read and comprehend? The discovery of water was not made by Chandrayaan-I. Your spacecraft was just a carrier of the instrument that NASA designed. NASA is the one who first suspected the existence of water on the moon and designed the prob to detect it. It was also not you Indians who analyzed the data and made the discovery. The discovery could have been made with any other carrier. You should be grateful that Chandrayaan-I was made relavent. Otherwise it would've been a total failure. Word.


September 29, 2009 12:52 PM

I just don't understand why Americans are so jealous of any Indian advancement..big or small. Don't American's get it that times have changed? They don't seem to mind if China steals technology from Americans? go figure...hmmm


September 29, 2009 3:20 PM

India's space technology is 100% of USSR vintage. Russians are selling off their space jewels to India for some cash. Indians specialize in re-naming Soviet space technology in Sanskrit. They can hardly even feed their own population.


September 29, 2009 6:50 PM

Very correct that China and India are not in the same category: India is the world's largest democracy while China is a fascist cesspool of oppression.
As for dear Bruce, well, he lives in Hong Kong and is obviously a paid propagandist for the Chinese.
BW should not use this dork.


September 29, 2009 7:55 PM

India could only be treated as a big country only in shear exploding human population wise! In terms of economics, politics, including land size, it is far from be considered an important country or partner. In the world stage, it was/is typical follower. Given its immense number of poverty, caste system, chaotic plus corrupted political structure, Brit left infrastructure, it can't be a global player in any field in near future unless above mentioned defects be overcomed. By the way, with 1.1 billion people, how many medals have been earned by proud indians for the debut of modern olympics 100 years ago


September 29, 2009 8:08 PM

It's official. My uncle in the space institute just said that the teh research and manufacturing of the Chang'er II is on schedule, but they have decided to postpone the launch to 2019 - the year it is expected that the Chinese economy will be likely officially the largest on this planet. After evaluating many options, the country decided that it is much wiser not to burn billions of dollars in one flame. It is much better to perfect that super-sonic cruise missile, in case some envious idiots try to covet some of our land and sea territories, and to build many commercial-toilets, yes, we do also have people with sub-standard toilets. So the burning of hundreds millions of dollars is postponed. We as a nation, do not need such idiocy (read so called competition) to prove our worth. It is much better to better defend ourselves and provide good toilets to all our people.


September 29, 2009 10:11 PM

Poor bruce being trashed by Indians waves after waves. :)

i wonder did oher BW indian authors trash the non-indian author for same amount of crap both sides write about one another hehe.


September 30, 2009 4:16 AM

Actually Bruce wants to curry favor with the Indians. But Indians being the ultra-sensitive creatures that they are due to their super inferiority complex are just jumping on him for the slightest perceived mockery. Bruce, it does not pay to curry favor with Indians.

prasad krishna

September 30, 2009 8:29 AM

This is an important discovery. After so many decades, the moon is being explored again. All these will help us find out the way Universe/Planets/life originated. Should everything be viewed thru the prism of India vs China? India is a free country. There is no doubt there is poverty in the country. For sure today's developed nations took sometime before reaching the current status. Also I doubt GDP/per capita income is a good measure of nation's wealth.


October 1, 2009 10:45 AM

Why do Americans keep on bashing India? Give it a break. Surveys after surveys in India showed how much India loves and look up to America. India wants America to lead the world. India aspires to be like America. India worship America. Every Indian wants to immigrate to America to work for you and make America the #1 superpower. Please open up your arms. India wants to help America defeat terrorism and hold down China. America needs to know that India want to be your junior partner. America could be shinning beacon for every India like UK for so long.


October 2, 2009 4:35 PM

Absolutely. We indians want to supplant America. We are the world's largest democracy, we are the world's largest economy by PPP, we are the world's largest military with my newly minted 200000 gigaton nuclear bombs and nuclear subs, we are the leading light of the 3rd world, the 2nd world, as well as the 1st world. We will bash all other countries, USA included, to 4th world status. Go India.

C. H. Ng

October 4, 2009 10:33 PM


You are one of the many typical low-esteemed Asian people who always only know how to look up (or bow) to the ever mighty westerners (in your case, the American).
Hey wake up...! What's so great about them (the westerners) that you need to bow to them all the times and don't mind your country being used by them to work against another Asian country?
Last time your country (and mine too) were ruled by the British. Our forefathers had to bow to them and called them "Sir". We studied their language, English. This is only one of the few good things they have passed to us becoz the language is currently the most widely used international language. They taught us human rights & freedom of speech but it seems like you never learned and yet prefer to to be forever being a slave to them! From being under the former British colony, now you want your country to be under the American! How pathetic! No wonder many countries look down on your country!

C. H. Ng

October 5, 2009 3:45 AM

Further to my comment posted earlier, I wish to call upon all people of Asean, developing & undeveloping countries and including all past colonies of the western powers, to rise up & be proud of what you are & who you are.
PLEASE DON'T BE SUBSERVIENT TO ANY SUPERPOWER OF ANY ERA ANYMORE..!! The days of the colonial masters are over and you don't have to think & behave as people like AJ unashamely protrayed himself or herself in his/her post. Totally shameless & stupid. No wonder many of us look down on India and especially on those Indians who would tend to greet every white people they meet on the streets with the word "Sir".

Remember you only greet people out of manner or respect as an equal; not to be or behave like a servant to a master.


October 5, 2009 4:57 AM

Ppl like AJ have this screwed mentality that actually thinks without white men they are nothing. But come to think of it can you really blame ppl like AJ?

Ask yourself if you are him, when you look at your ppl, ur country and ur govt incompetancy and curruption. After 60 yrs ++, your country still havent progress much. Still a laughing stock in the world. How you feel? Seeing the dire proverty and gigantum problems running inside the country. You feel hopeless.

When there is no hope upon ur own ppl, where else can one place hope? That rite..the one who conquer them. Hence slave like mentality.

There is a screwed way of thinking among ppl like AJ too. They look at Hong Kong and they think Hong Kong is rich because of being a british colony. So they get envy and jealous and they also forgot who they really are and what Gandhi has done and sacrificed for the india. Such mentality is very dangerous to India as these ppl when given a chance will leave india and stay in other more developed countries.

Now they sound like very anti-china but beleive it if given a chance to stay in any chinese cities with a PR or even citizenship among their own other immigrant indians, i gurantee you they will jump ship without a second glance back at mother india.


October 12, 2009 1:49 AM

Indians have the good talent in the world. They have shown their presence in every field. Now the ancient backward India is a past.


October 13, 2009 5:21 PM

So Bruce Einhorn has sold his integrity, principles and ethics with a bribe from the Chinese Communist Party to promote Chinese propoganda.

Interesting fellow Einhorn :)


October 13, 2009 5:30 PM

As an Indian I would rather place trust and build a closer economic, social, technological, international, cultural, educational relationship and develop with the Western countries of USA, Canada, Australia, UK, Europe.

India must not associate with Chinese and other Far Eastern countries due to their inferiority and poor third world quality Education, Technology, Culture, Poverty.

One must emulate and learn from the developed Western countries.


October 13, 2009 5:35 PM

India must learn and develop with the West as the benchmark. Western countries: USA, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Russia must be our role models due their highly developed democracies, economy, technology, education, culture.

China and the Far East are inferior societies, third world in nature, poor quality education, inferior technology, third world countries.They are not good role model societies.


November 22, 2009 12:29 PM

Why is the UK giving over 4billion pounds a year in aid to india when they can afford to spend over 6billion pounds on a space program

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