Mother of All Slingshots Set to Hurl India’s MOM Probe to Mars

Article written: 30 Nov , 2013
Updated: 23 Dec , 2015
by

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – MOM – India’s first ever interplanetary spacecraft – is spending her last day around Mother Earth.

The clock is ticking down relentlessly towards “The mother of all slingshots” – the critical engine firing intended to hurl India’ Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) probe on her ten month long interplanetary cruise to the Red Planet.

Engineers at the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) Mission Operations Complex at Bangalore are now just hours away from sending the commands that will ignite MOMs’ liquid fueled main engine for TMI – the Trans Mars Insertion maneuver that will propel MOM away from Earth forever and place the craft on an elliptical trajectory to the Red Planet.

“Performance assessment of all subsystems of the spacecraft has been completed,” reports ISRO.

The do or die 1351 second burn is slated to begin at 00:49 hrs IST tonight – on Dec. 1 Indian local time.

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mission Operations Complex of ISTRAC, at Bangalore, India. Credit: ISRO

Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) Mission Operations Complex of ISTRAC, at Bangalore, India. Credit: ISRO

The 440 Newton liquid fueled main engine must fire precisely as planned to inject MOM on target to Mars.

MOM’s picture perfect Nov. 5 liftoff atop India’s highly reliable four stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C25 from the ISRO’s Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, precisely injected the spacecraft into an initial elliptical Earth parking orbit of 247 x 23556 kilometers with an inclination of 19.2 degrees.

First ever image of Earth Taken by Mars Color Camera aboard India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft currently orbiting Earth prior to upcoming Trans Mars Insertion. Image is focused on the Indian subcontinent.  Credit: ISRO

First ever image of Earth Taken by Mars Color Camera aboard India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) spacecraft currently orbiting Earth prior to upcoming Trans Mars Insertion. Image is focused on the Indian subcontinent. Credit: ISRO

Since then the engine has fired 6 times to gradually raise the spacecrafts apogee.

The most recent orbit raising maneuver occurred at 01:27 hrs (IST) on Nov 16, 2013 with a burn time of 243.5 seconds increased the apogee from 118,642 km to 192,874 km.

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Tonight burn is MOM’s final one around Earth and absolutely crucial for setting her on course for Mars.

If all goes well the $69 million MOM spacecraft reaches the vicinity of Mars on 24 September 2014.

MOM was the first of two Earth missions to Mars launched this November.

NASA’s $671 Million MAVEN orbiter launched as scheduled on Nov. 18, from Cape Canaveral, Florida and arrives at Mars on Sept. 22, 2014, about two days before MOM.

Both MAVEN and MOM’s goal is to study the Martian atmosphere, unlock the mysteries of its current atmosphere and determine how, why and when the atmosphere and liquid water was lost – and how this transformed Mars climate into its cold, desiccated state of today.

Stay tuned here for continuing MOM and MAVEN news and Ken’s MAVEN and SpaceX Falcon 9 launch reports from on site at the Kennedy Space Center press center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Ken Kremer

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47 Responses

  1. Flavio says

    “Mother of All Slingshots Set to Hurl India’s MOM Probe to Mars” and “If all goes well the $69 million MOM spacecraft reaches the vicinity of Mars on 24 September 2013.”
    Wow, that is some slingshot, it will manage timetravel ! So have we got any photos of Mars from it yet? 🙂

    • sai kiran sharma says

      It will take 10 more months before we get a photo of mars.

    • optimist says

      Obviously, you still have not got it.Read it again, would you?

    • Michael Kosak says

      $69 million??? NASA can’t think about doing the outline of a proposal for a feasibility study of a potential future space trip for that much. And they still have that important “muslim outreach” to do too…

  2. Ovalman says

    NASA MIssions cost 10x as much. NASA should subcontract India to do their science.

    • delphinus100 says

      Let’s see how she performs, before signing any contracts…

      • Ovalman says

        In fairness I’m not an American and the UK doesn’t spend anything like NASA but smaller faster cheaper should be back on the drawing board. India have shown it is possible so why so much bureaucracy with NASA?

      • Ivan B says

        I think you answered your own question. Beaurocracy and NASA

      • sai kiran sharma says

        Hello ovalman, I agree that ISRO has done commendable job. But, this same professionalism and delivering things within the time frame and without cost over runs is not seen in other departments of Indian govt. I guess NASA is NASA, US and Russia will always remain as the pioneers! No point in comparing ISRO to them.

      • Sri Harsha says

        I guess its important to stick to the topic of space research and give credit to the scientists and the team that could deliver such good results at one tenth the cost. I dont see the reason to degrade ISRO because other departments in the govt. are not performing well. Remember it is not about who delivers it first but about who delivers best results in most cost effective way that is important to make space exploration more plausible for future missions.

      • Vijay Pakalapati says

        so far so good ! right ….. after all MOM is a technology demo with scietific instruments but it is 10 times cost effective I will be very happy with what ISRO could able to demostrate so far remember, China’s piggy back on a Russian rocket failed to leave earth’s low orbit… Well done ISRO… Wishing all the very best…. Yes its time for NASA to collaborate for economies of scale and for promoting sci & tech especially help emerging world with technology and experiance gained over long time…. Congrats to ISRO

    • Shubham says

      The cost is including setting up ground facilities too. I agree, NASA could have sent 10 little smaller satellite in the same cost. Also, I think US should consider removing pressure over Russia to not to transfer Cryogenic technology to India. If India had good reliable cryogenic upper stage engine, more instruments would have been taken with MOM.
      Currently, If MOM is successfully placed into martian orbit we can provide low cost option for placing smaller instrument to other planets in future.

    • Aeffesstoo says

      Yes, but does India have a “promote Islam” mandate like NASA?

      • Prav says

        Could you please explain this mandate of yours?

      • Aeffesstoo says

        google “obama nasa islam mandate”

      • Prav says

        Has Obama gone fully mad?, NASA’s only mandate is to promote science, science and ONLY science. If religions cannot agree with modern science and get away from stone age beliefs, it is their funeral.

      • bobb says

        Ha ha ….ridiculous ! Hard to beat bias against Islam or indeed any other religion.
        History stands witness on Islam’s contribution to science….be it in the field of Medicine or Engineering….it even taught some nations how to build as simple projects as Taj Mahal, a show-case of national pride.
        It is important that countries should continue to explore and experiment new technologies for the benefit of human race. But a country, with millions dying in disgraceful hunger, priding itself of being able to use copy technologies just to fly kites to upper atmosphere is only setting wrong examples and merely adding to the global pollution.
        Sadly, and thanks to the encouragement from the West, India seems to be in a state of compulsive Chinese phobia and showing no reluctance in making inappropriate spending of its meagre resources. Most sadly countries like Pakistan, ruined in assisting other nation’s campaigns like anti-Soviet efforts or now war on terror, will almost certainly begin to reinstate their own space programmes as soon as they can find funds. So the “Me too” syndrome
        continues ruthlessly to push nations deeper into poverty. These nations need sane leadership if they have to make their way out of the desire for a false pride and inflated ego. Good luck South Asia.

      • Aeffesstoo says

        “NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a recent interview that his “foremost” mission as the head of America’s space exploration agency is to improve relations with the
        Muslim world.

        Though international diplomacy would seem well outside NASA’s orbit, Bolden said in an interview with Al Jazeera that strengthening those ties was among the top tasks President Obama assigned him. He said better interaction with the Muslim world would ultimately advance space travel.”

        Fox News July 05, 2010

        Is the content of this what you are finding hillarious? Or just the fact that it was reported?

    • gopher652003 says

      Most of the difference is wages. If India’s space agency paid the same amount to its workers that NASA does, the probe would have cost over 500 million.

      • jvk says

        this is not true.. most of the expenses of NASA is due to mismanagement. $30,000 toilet seats, anyone??

      • gopher652003 says

        Those inflated figures are mostly bullcrap, but even when they are kinda true there is a reason for it.

        Mainly this: if you’re building a hammer that is going to be used on a spacewalk, do just go down to the hardware store and buy a 5 dollar hammer? Careful about your answer. Will that hammer survive repeated heating and cooling from 10kelvin to 600kelvin? Will it shatter when used in an icy vacuum and shielded from the sun by Earth’s bulk? If it does shatter, will the pieces of debris gentle drift away, or is the material that the hammer is made of in a high stress crystal lattice, which will catapult the debris away from the impact site like shrapnel, killing any nearby astronauts? Will the debris be big or small? Sharp or round?

        Those are all questions that need to be answered. For. Each. And. Every. Tiny. Tool. That. Gets. Launched.

        A lot of the items only need to be tested once. But that means that while the second hammer NASA launches will only cost 20 dollars, the first one will cost 100000 dollars ($20 for the hammer and $99990 for thorough testing).

        There is an old story about how NASA spent millions developing a pen that would write in 0g, while the Russians simply used pencils. That story isn’t true of course. NASA used pencils too, they just decided that having little pieces of broken off lead or graphite floating around the cabin getting jammed in switches at critical times was a Bad Thing. So they fixed the problem:P.

    • AVM says

      I am from India so even though we will like that to happen in the future its still not feasible. We still haven’t mastered the bigger rockets that are needed for escaping earth directly. NASA has them. So yeah we can launch smaller satellites and spacecrafts but bigger ones are still in the future.

    • CheckingNonsense says

      Israel launched a very important spy-satellite through ISRO because it would have cost 15 million $ there, and India got it done for less than 5 million (including a good profit for ISRO). But rather than outsourcing the science, NASA should outsource mundane things like Low-Earth orbit launches and concentrate on science. NASA does far better science and exploration than ISRO (and I’m not ashamed to admit it), whereas ISRO is focussed largely on saving foreign exchange by launching domestic satellites on domestic launchers. Both would benefit greatly through such partnership and could save money while playing to their strengths.

      • gopher652003 says

        PSLV (the launcher used in this launch) cost 15 million to launch, and has a max payload to LEO of 3,250 kilograms. The bestcase $/kg for the rocket is 4615.

        The Falcon 9v1.1 costs 54 million and can launch a bit more than 13000kg. Bestcase $/kg = 4153.

        The Falcon Heavy (when it finally launches;)) will cost 135 million and launch 53000 kilograms (both cost and launch mass are for the heaviest configuration currently planned). Bestcase $/kg= 2547.

        So PSLV = 4615 $/kg
        Falcon 9v1.1 = 4153 $/kg
        Falcon Heavy = 2547 $/kg

        Why exactly should the US outsource its launches to another country? US launch companies are already making Indian companies look expensive in comparison. And that’s without the rapid turnaround, low cost refurbishable reusable rockets that at least 2 different US companies are currently developing.

      • CheckingNonsense says

        And wouldn’t it be even more cheaper if SpaceX and other US firms outsourced parts of its development process to India as well as China?

        Coming to your figures, the PSLV costs 75 crores Indian Rs. which when converted to USD presently comes to around 12 million $, (It would have been 11 a few months back ) which would make PSLV around 3700 $/Kg. But that’s not my point.

        And already large parts of the US space programmes (NASA and private) rely on cheap electronic parts, things as mundane as PCs to more complex circuits from China. Not to mention software ,that in part, comes from India. Imagine the costs if the US tried to manufacture everything on its own on its own soil and own people.

        I’m not advocating complete outsourcing, rather those parts that can be done cheaply in India and other places like China, should be outsourced. Things that can not be, shouldn’t be.

      • browneyes says

        Yes, but Israel and India are much closer on military activities than the United States and India. This kind of spy-satellite cooperation would not be possible between India and any other country except Israel. However, for civilian satellites NASA and the United States have always been supportive of India. This includes everything from helping track MOM to sending ISRO the famous good-luck peanuts.

        What is interesting is how a group of bright people, largely ignored by their government and put on a shoestring budget, will achieve amazing things at minimal cost. $69 million to get to Mars when Air India loses $4 Billion every year. Says a lot. The funniest thing is the injustice of it (internally within India, I mean). If they were wasting their money and achieving nothing, like most other government departments – including the ministry of social welfare which spends close to $20 Billion annually of which only 6% trickles to the poor according to the Prime Minister himself – no one would care. No one would talk about it. This small band of people actually make an interplanetary spacecraft work for $69 Million and now everyone wants them to justify the cost. When she was UP state’s chief minister, Mayawati spent $950 Million (5919 crore rupees) on that one stupid ugly park in Noida with statues of her with her stupid handbag. That had less discussion that this. No good deed goes unpunished.

        It’s so unfair to scientists – I should say to scientists everywhere actually because the same damn thing happens around the world. And they’re the only ones that are actually making lives better for us in a substantial way. They succeed because of passion – they actually want to do it, not just check some boxes. One day a significant chunk of human global GDP will come from Mars and non-Earth sources. Scientists like the ones here will be forgotten and their work will be taken for granted.

      • CheckingNonsense says

        I am against all these bailouts and welfare programmes. Some things like space research, nuclear weapons, some defence goods need to be under Govt. control, so you can’t establish viable free-market in these sectors. But in all other things, people will be better off doing things on their own without Govt. interference

      • super like brown eye. SUPER LIKE
        Even congress gonna discuss that, they gonna take whole credits as the mission was funded during their reign. Credits to the scientist how has done great work and are still keeping an eye on each movement of spacecraft will be ignored by all .

        I would like to say that you have given very great points and the comparison done by you like that of air India , its commendable.

        (y)

  3. Gregg Grider says

    God speed M.O.M.

  4. The Latinist says

    Does this burn actually give the probe escape velocity? I thought it was going to be on a geocentric transfer orbit.

    • Trooper says

      Uhm… I think you’re confusing the concepts a bit. The initial launch in November put the probe into a GeoCentric Transfer orbit (Hohman orbit). Over the last month they’ve been steadily increasing the apogee of that orbit with what you call burns. The last of such maneuvers was yesterday which would enable (Essentially the Escape orbit in a Hohman Transfer) the probe to leave Earth’s sphere of Influence and enter the Sun’s. If all goes well, it will travel in such an orbit for 300 days to reach Mars’ Sphere of Influence.

      • CheckingNonsense says

        Yeah, think of it as twirling a lasso a few times before throwing it to catch something. That is exactly what ISRO has done in order to send the craft to Mars.

  5. Vishal says

    The burn went successful – now it’s on cruise to Mars..

    http://isro.org/pressrelease/scripts/pressreleasein.aspx?Dec01_2013

  6. Member
    Gozlemci says

    Good luck to MOM team and everybody who is interested…

  7. Paul says

    Looks like they’ve fixed the text. Shame – it would be nice to do a retrospective on this mission.

    • Flavio says

      I sometimes wish that they put a reason for the edit somewhere as it now looks like I am the one that made the error or even put the correction in brackets after the error !

  8. accountablejourno says

    Mars needs MOM

  9. Gahe says

    The details are well-explained and very concise.

  10. sai kiran sharma says

    I dont see why you commented that way. I nowhere degraded ISRO. Infact three of my family folks are in ISRO. am only encouraging Indians to question why cant other govt departments replicate feats, like ISRO does so easily.

  11. gopher652003 says

    As to outsourcing, a lot of high end US manufacturing companies aren’t bothering any more. Low quality “has to last two years then it gets thrown in the garbage” stuff like consumer electronics are still being outsourced, but things that have to be manufactured to high tolerances just aren’t being outsourced like they use to.

    Why? Two reasons, and ultimately they’re both the same reason. Robots.

    1) For a lot of processes you can design a robot that will do the task faster and with tighter tolerances than any human could hope to.

    2) In the past robots that could do that kind of work were very expensive. Now… not so much. Tomorrow? A little less expensive still. Every day that passes the price of human labour in developing countries increases (as the standard of living increases) while robotic labour decreases.

    To emphasis that last point: the company that my dad works for had the option to build a factory in China with a human manufacturing and assembly line employing thousands of people, or to build a robotic manufacturing and assembly plant in the US that is so devoid of life that not even rats live there (a couple dozen people work there). They built the US plant. Not even slave labour is cheaper than robotic labour anymore.

    That means no more slaves, but it also means no more outsourcing.

    • NonBeliever says

      @gopher652003
      I am surprised that you are actually against free-trade. Your ideas are very Marxist. I have actually read about Marxism and Libertarianism, so I’m not using the word Marxist as hyperbole. The quest for self-sufficiency is what had kept socialist India and China so poor till 2 decades ago. It is still why North Korea sucks. I am surprised that you want USA to do the same path.

      To begin with let me address your PPP issue. Americans spend in dollars. It doesn’t matter if those translate to a higher worth in rupees. It is cheaper for USA to outsource in many important areas, regardless of whether Indian firms are intrinsically more efficient or not. To you, an American, all you should worry is whether you are getting your money’s worth. Someday when India becomes highly developed, the PPP advantage will disappear. Till then, USA should seize the opportunity.

      A lot of things involved in space programs/defense are off-the-shelf. If the USA tried to build everything without any help from India or China the costs would be huge. A lot of NASA’s contractors have robust IT systems (often outsourced to India) that allow it to manage complex projects efficiently. They use cheap computers thanks to China. Can you imagine if they insisted everything was made in USA? Wouldn’t they have charged NASA far more? Same for the military contractors. They directly or indirectly benefit from products and services made elsewhere.

      And India has built many crappy things, and has been forced to buy more crappy things, thanks to the embargo that USA has put on India. Why is this even desirable?
      At the same time India has been able to excel in some areas like IT and textiles, providing world-class products at cheap prices. What is wrong with that? I live in India and I am very happy that foreign MNCs have come and invested in India, both as providers of goods/services and also as employers. I am also happy that I provide good and services of value to people in India and abroad.

      Yes, your company decided to build robots instead. Do you know that robots are heavily used in India and China too. Their maintenance etc. is much cheaper in India because of lower living costs for the engineers. Why do you assume that mindless human labour is all what India and China have to offer? With every passing year, both India and China are upgrading their human and physical capital, not to mention the quality of life. They are becoming smarter and adopting new techniques and technology.
      And human labour is becoming outdated here too. India and China have one of the largest truck fleets, rail systems, highway systems etc. By your logic, they should have stuck to using humans to carry everything on backs on footpaths. But they don’t. They should use humans to calculate things, but they use computers, So there is no surprise here. I really think you need to take a good objective look at India and China.

      And please don’t use the term “slave labour” whether it is in China or India. That labour is voluntary and people get paid much better money than they would get doing farming or cleaning filth. Please don’t use the word slave so casually, it not only offends the workers, it also offends actual slaves in USA, who didn’t get the fruits of their labour.

      I would strongly recommend you watch or read Milton Friedman’s work “Free to Choose”. As an Indian, I wish he had been in India and saved us from the socialist hellhole that India was right up till 1991. He would have sharply contrasted with your views.

      • gopher652003 says

        I understand where your misconceptions regarding the advantage robotic labour has over human labour come from. Most people don’t seem to have grasped how dramatically society is going to change over the next couple decades due to the switch from human labour to robotic labour (and indeed, how dramatically entire industries are changing today). Here is a basic breakdown of what will happen in the next few decades:

        i) Automated labour will surpass human labour in terms of both initial purchase efficiency (training for humans, cost of acquisition for robots) and maintenance efficiency (wages for humans, repairs and replacement parts for robots) This has happened in several industries already, and relatively soon nearly all industries will be affected.

        ii) Shipping is – and will continue to be – one of the largest costs associated with production of goods. Shipping raw ore from mines to processing plants, then to manufacturing plants, then to assembly plants, then to warehouses, then to cargo ships, then across oceans, then to other warehouses, then to end retailers… that’s expensive. It’s cheaper to have everything all in one place (ie, mine with ore processing and various factories that contain the stages of manufacture right beside it, then shipping straight to the end customer). However, needing to ship millions of human workers to distant mining sites stops that from working. Without human workers, it’s cheaper to simply concentrate all production in situ at a mine.

        iii) Of course, resources are spread out. But there are multiple places in the world where there are a lot of untapped natural resources just sitting there in relatively close proximity to each other. In the new automated world, those would be the prime locations for nearly all robotic labourers to be. Certain small parts of Australia, Canada, southern South America (Chile in particular), China, Russia, South/Central Africa, and the US are the main places were heavy concentrations of many of the most useful materials exist. The rest of the world is largely barren, with only small concentrations of anything useful.

        iv) Once automated labour is cheaper than human labour across the board, corporations will engage in mass layoffs of human employees. It simply won’t be worth their while to keep humans around. A significant portion of the world’s population will be unemployed and, thanks to continued advances in automated labour, they will be permanently unemployable. This will happen in countries both rich and poor alike.

        v) In order to maintain power, governments will be forced to step in and begin providing the basic necessities of life. In heavily socilized countries this will undoubtable take the form of a welfare state, while in more capitalist leaning societies I’d expect to see some sort of “make work” programs popping up. How well any of these systems will work (and which ones will work the best) we will see. We don’t have enough experience yet to know which systems will be superior.

        vi) In order to fund these programs governments will have to tax the only entities left with excess wealth (ie, economic resources). That means the corporations with mass robotic labour forces. The more automated production a country has, the more it can make taxing that production at a reasonable rate (if the taxes are too high the corps will try to relocate as much of their production as they can elsewhere, shipping costs be darned).

        vii) In this new regime, a country’s standard of living (and total wealth) will thus be determined primarily by two factors: concentration of and total volume of extractable resources, and population density. The greater the amount of resources, the more wealth that can be spread out over society (the vast majority of it will still be concentrated in the hands of a few individuals, but still;)). The greater the population, the more spread out the total wealth will be, and the poorer everyone will be. (if you have a billion dollars split amongst 1000 people, they’re all rich. If you have a billion dollars split amongst 1 billion people, they’re all poor).

        vii) From that it should be obvious that countries with low population density and lots of resources will be the best off. That pretty much leaves Australia as the richest per capita country in the world (with the highest standard of living), followed closely by Canada and then Russia. A few countries like the US and China will have middle of the pack wealth (lots of resources, but fairly large populations), while countries like India and Pakistan will be the poorest in the world (few real resources for robotic labour forces to work with, but fairly large populations to support).

        This is the inevitable outcome of the automation of our society. There are no other paths forward in the short term. Over the longer term – as our technological prowess grows – we will (potentially) move into a post scarcity society. Then all bets are off. India might well become the brightest beacon of humanity at that point. But that’s still a ways off, and we have no way of predicting what will happen that far in the future.

      • NonBeliever says

        @gopher652003:disqus

        But the fallacy that machines will replace humans and cause mass unemployment has been going on since the Luddite movements of the 1800s. Socialists often use it to attack progress. For example, the Communist Party of India rioted a few decades back when India installed its first commercial computers. I have read your entire argument and I’d like to point out that :

        1) The greatest resource is the human mind. Only a human mind can give physical resources any meaning and value. In 1859, in Titusville, Penn., when prospectors first drilled specifically for natural oil, they were laughed at. Because at that time, natural oil was not a “resource”, it was a pestilence that contaminated water wells. What was Uranium till we had the technology to harness its power?

        2) The Luddite argument has not stood the test of time. After computers came, didn’t they generate employment for millions in IT, web development etc.? Do you think all humans will just retire and decide to sleep just because we have more automation? No, there will always be new worlds to explore and new horizons to seek.

        3) Even if were able to develop a far higher intelligence, don’t you think we would integrate that into ourselves first? Every generation of humans has a higher average IQ than one before it (The relative “100” IQ point has to be adjusted every few years. We are more intelligent that 2 generations back.)

        4) Your increasing socialism scenario is ill-founded. Throughout the 1800s to 1930, USA had almost no major welfare program. Yet during that time, our old ways and old employments were pretty much wiped out. In 1800s, we had ships bringing Arctic Ice for domestic use. That whole industry disappeared thanks to Linde Nitrogen cycle-based fridges. Not to mention textiles, show-making, car-making, food packing which were once hand-made…..All were industrialized and taken over by machines. But it did not lead the kind of chaos you are describing.

        5) Natural resources play a very small role in most major developed societies. Natural resources are not limited, new ones are being harnessed ever so often.
        The largest contribution comes from the services sector which is based on the human mind.

        6) You are really underrating India. India is very rich in natural resources including materials, agriculture, livestock etc. and now also natural gas. India has world’s 50% known reserves of Thorium, a rather exotic nuclear fuel. When those reactors become viable and makes oil obsolete, who will be the new Saudi Arabia? Might as well be India!

        7) Take the example of Japan , Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Tawian. They have almost no natural resources and have much higher population densities than India! India’s population density is 1/20th of Singapore. India’s population density is almost the same as that of Japan and Israel !! And what about low-density resource rich African countries? Shouldn’t they sky-rocket? No, beacuse their human and societal resources are not developed enough to make use of their natural resources. They can’t extract their oil themselves, nor refine it and worst, not use it! That was the case with the tribes of Saudi Arabia till the British started drilling.

        You should really rethink your scarcity society hypothesis. It hasn’t happened in the past and isn’t going to happen in the future. Human mind continuously creates new possibilities .

      • NonBeliever says

        @gopher652003:disqus

        But the fallacy that machines will replace humans completely has been going on since the Luddite movements of the 1800s. Socialists often use it to attack progress. For example, the Communist Party of India rioted a few decades back when India installed its first commercial computers. I have read your entire argument and I’d like to point out that :

        1) The greatest resource is the human mind. Only a human mind can give physical resources any meaning and value. In 1859, in Titusville, Penn., when prospectors first drilled specifically for natural oil, they were laughed at. Because at that time, natural oil was not a “resource”, it was a pestilence that contaminated water wells. What was Uranium till we had the technology to harness its power?

        2) The Luddite argument has not stood the test of time. After computers came, didn’t they generate employment for millions in IT, web development etc.? Do you think all humans will just retire and decide to sleep just because we have more automation? No, there will always be new worlds to explore and new horizons to seek.

        3) Even if were able to develop a far higher intelligence, don’t you think we would integrate that into ourselves first? Every generation of humans has a higher average IQ than one before it (The relative “100” IQ point has to be adjusted every few years. We are more intelligent that 2 generations back.). If we develop strong AI, we would embed them in our brains to begin with.

        4) The price mechanism encodes the relative value of things. If robots are more expensive than humans in some area, then for that area it is more efficient to use humans. If people are worse off and are willing to work for less while giving the same quality, then it is more efficient to hire them. The workers demanding more must realize that they ought to be doing something more productive to justify the extra wages.

        5) Your increasing socialism scenario is ill-founded. Throughout the 1800s to 1930, USA had almost no major welfare program. Yet during that time, our old ways and old employments were pretty much wiped out. In 1800s, we had ships bringing Arctic Ice for domestic use. That whole industry disappeared thanks to Linde Ammonia cycle-based fridges. Not to mention textiles, show-making, car-making, food packing which were once hand-made…..All were industrialized and taken over by machines. But it did not lead the kind of chaos you are describing.

        6) Natural resources play a small role in most developed Western societies today. Services usually contribute the most. Countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong etc. had no natural resources but they were able to become very rich and successful countries thanks to free trade.

  12. gopher652003 says

    Also, the parts used by the various space programs aren’t off the shelf consumer goods most of the time. They’re either military grade hardened parts, or custom designed, tested, and built for the particular mission in question. No one is buying custom built parts from India, they’re building them (or 3D printing them) in their own private labs. And frankly no one is buying antiqued military equipment from India either:P. Everyone’s seen the news stories about the ancient rusty Russia ships India uses. Not exactly top of the line technology.

  13. gopher652003 says

    I actually agree with your assessment, except for one thing: in the past society adapted well (after some upheaval) because the new industries that were created still required humans. There was never a time when machine labour didn’t require human supervision and intervention. Now there is. Any new industries that are created (and undoubtedly many will be) will not provide new sources of jobs for humans, they will provide new sources of jobs for nearly fully independent machines.

    One point about the history of the workforce: you say that in the past new jobs were created as automation progressed. That’s technically true, but it’s not as true as you think it is. New jobs were created as old industries automated, but they weren’t skilled labour. In North America today around 75% of the labourforce work in the service industry (retail, telemarketing, etc). Service industry jobs are low paying and, frankly, getting easier and easier to replace en mass with much cheaper non-human labour (everything from self checkouts to automated answering services). Americans might blame Clinton, Bush, and Obama for the slowly decreasing standard of living, but they’re not to blame.

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