Frugal engineering for inter planetary markets

ISRO has just become the first space agency to succeed on a Mission to Mars in its first attempt and at a low cost of only $75 million. It is less than the cost of making the movie Gravity and close to one tenth the cost of larger Mars missions by NASA. Yes, the NASA missions try to do much more (for e.g. they already landed on the red planet) and stretch the limits of what is possible constantly, but smaller cost missions will allow us to do more of them every couple of years with enhanced sensors based on newer technology, to more places in the solar system, and open up opportunities for exploration in a totally new way !


Mars Orbiter Mission ready to go!

Purely from a economics perespective ISRO has a very strong business case to leverage its frugal engineering capibility and create an inter planetary market for anyone who wants to transport anything across our solar system. Most Indian startups also have this same advantage and many have even attempted to leverage local frugal engineering capabilities to target global markets. VirtualWire, based in Delhi, was one such startup which built one of the world's first giga-byte per second wireless system in 2009.


One of world's first gigabit per second wireless system

But it is not sufficient to be super efficient in building products. We also need to have the ability for market development. Market development means identifying early adopters, creating distribution channels, creating not just a need for your product but also understanding how to make your customers feel good so that they become your permanent fan base ! A product is not a technology or a feature or even a solution. A product is an experience for your customers. And that experience starts even before they buy your product.

Apple is an amazing company because they get this. Someone needs to make a movie, documentaries, etc about ISRO. ISRO needs to be present at the World Economic Forum and sponsor kids from US and Europe to come to India to learn about frugal engineering. At the least I would like to be able to buy a T-shirt with Mars Orbiter Mission written on it.