India’s $74 million Mars mission cost less than ‘Gravity’ movie

By Charles Riley  @CRrileyCNN

While some critics take issue with the government’s use of public funds on space exploration instead of social problems, Modi now has yet another space triumph to tout. Only the U.S., Russia and Europe have successfully executed Mars missions; China and Japan have failed.

It’s difficult to overstate just how little money the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has to work with. The agency’s annual budget for this fiscal year is only $1.2 billion, while NASA has a budget of around $17.5 billion.

ISRO is able to save money by using short development cycles, and taking advantage of India’s cheap labor market. Highly-skilled aerospace engineers in the country might receive a salary of $1,000 per month, a fraction of what the same workers would be paid in Europe or the U.S.

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