Bloomberg'a unsubtle headline is "India Beats China to Mars Orbit at 11% Cost of US Probe." The Indian Space Research Organization's Mangalyaan, or "Mars craft," made orbit around the red planet at a cut-rate $74 million, and reached Mars two days after NASA's $671 million MAVEN craft. Bloomberg quotes a statement from Beijing's Foreign Ministry congratulating India on "landmark progress" that is the "pride of Asia." But your can feel the grudging nature of the obligatory compliment. The account aslo states: "The South Asian nation is trying to keep up with China, which plans to complete a manned space station by 2022." As for MAVEN, NPR informs us it stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, and is "about understanding the history of the climate on Mars." Posing it in such neutral and apolitical terms is patently dishonest and begs the question of toward what aim? Accounts don't note that Halliburton is drawing up plans for mining operations on Mars. (Yes, really.)
We have demonstrated again and again that space "exploration" is really about control of resources—and most frequently resources on Earth, not in the heavens, and the "science" is actually war propaganda. India's space program must be seen in the context of the alarming India-China nuclear arms race that the world has paid all too little attention to amid all the histrionics about Iran and North Korea. China's space ambitions should similarly be seen in the context of the New Cold War between Beijing and Washington. And in a regional pathology, several other Asian nations feel they have to keep pace with the continental giants and are developing their own cases of missile envy. We continue to demand that all imperial powers, East or West, keep their hands off outer space!