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Comment: Re:US Government (Score 3, Informative) 200

by Tablizer (#47994357) Attached to: Why India's Mars Probe Was So Cheap

Perhaps we spend a lot per probe relatively speaking, but NASA has had a great track record since giving up the "cheapo" approach of the 90's. The NASA/JPL Mars rovers and orbiters have done wonderful science.

In fact, the USA is the only country to land a working probe(s) on Mars. Both UK and USSR have attempted. (The Soviets came close, but it's debatable whether a certain attempt actually sent usable measurements back.)

Even if you deem it expensive, at least we got our money's worth, unlike some expensive Military boondoggles.

Comment: NASA in Vegas (Score 4, Insightful) 200

by Tablizer (#47994177) Attached to: Why India's Mars Probe Was So Cheap

TFA pointed out that India is a lot more forgiving of failure and fast iteration than the US is today.

NASA tried the "faster, better, cheaper" (FBC) approach in the 90's with roughly a 50% success rate. UK also tried a "cheap" Mars lander, the Beagle, that was a bust.

If India can demonstrate they can KEEP going cheap and be successful, then we can conclude they are on to something. NASA's FBC also looked good at the start.

It's too early to tell for India. And even if they could get up to a 70% success rate, the 30% failure rate could be seen as a national embarrassment by some standards. Although, maybe a 3rd-world country may be more tolerable of such, being seen as underdog newbies.

It's also hard to plan science and control staffing if 30% of your probes are duds; and by sheer probability, 2 or 3 could fail in a row even at a 70% average, leaving a decade of gaps.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_