India Says Mars Mission Is Cheaper Than 'Gravity'


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised the country's space agency for its Mars exploration program, which cost $78 million, well under the $100 million budget for the Warner Bros. blockbuster.

India's space scientists are flying higher than Sandra Bullock in Gravity while giving some pointers to Hollywood executives about budget control. Addressing the launch of an Indian-built rocket that launched four foreign satellites into space Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi applauded the country's space agency for keeping costs under control.

“I have heard about the film Gravity. I am told the cost of sending an Indian rocket to space is less than the money invested in making the Hollywood movie,” Modi said.

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Last year, India launched its bid to become the first Asian nation to reach Mars. India's Mars rocket, Mangalyaan, is expected to reach the red planet on Sept. 24. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) budgeted the mission at $78 million, coming in well under the reported $100 million budget for Warner's Gravity. In addition, ISRO's budget is less than a sixth of the $484 million  budget earmarked by NASA for a Mars probe launched shortly afterward.

Given ISRO's low-cost advantage, Modi added that India could “be the launch service provider of the world and must work toward this goal” in the global $2.3 billion satellite-launch industry.

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The Indian-made Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) blasted off Monday from ISRO's Sriharikota space port in south India, carrying satellites from France, Germany, Canada and Singapore.

Gravity was released in India last October and in two weeks grossed an estimated $4 million. The film went on to have an extended run well into December.