Mars on a budget. That is one way to describe the recent success achieved by India’s space program.
The Mangalyaan spacecraft just completed a 10-month journey to Mars for a mere $72 million. That figure, less than the amount spent on the 2013 movie “Gravity,” is significantly under than the $670 million cost of the latest U.S. Mars mission, which recently resulted in the Maven spacecraft entering into orbit around Earth’s closest planetary neighbor.
Can lessons learned from the Indian effort be utilized to reduce costs for future American space travel? How will this affect U.S. companies, such as The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA)?
Lowering Costs With Competition
NASA is on another type of mission — to lower costs of space travel by encouraging competition between private enterprise. NASA recently awarded two contracts worth over $7 billion to Boeing and privately-held Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, for the next phase of the manned space program. Future manned missions will utilize either the Boeing CST-100 or the SpaceX Dragon V2 to carry astronauts.
The country right now has to rely on Russia to get astronauts to the International Space Station.
Mars On A Budget
The success of the Indian mission might drive NASA to look towards South Asia to wring even more cost out of space travel. Boeing, SpaceX and their suppliers might want to take a trip there to identify other cost-cutting measures that can be taken or even invite some of the companies involved in the Indian program onto their teams.