India deserves kudos for sending a record 104 satellites into the orbit at one go but it was way behind than China in space technology, a Chinese newspaper said on Thursday.
An editorial in the state-run Global Times said by smashing the previous Russian record of putting 37 satellites into the orbit in 2014, India's frugal space exploration offered "food for thought for other countries".
India did a good job but has a long way to go as there still was no Indian astronaut in space and the plan to establish a space station was yet to take off, the paper said.
"This is perhaps the first widely followed world record India has made in the field of space technology. The Indians have reason to be proud," the daily said.
"However, the space technology race is not mainly about the number of satellites at one go. It's fair to say the significance of this achievement is limited. In this regard, Indian scientists know more than the Indian public, who are encouraged by media reports.
"It's a hard-won achievement for India to reach current space technology level with a relatively small investment. It offers food for thought for other countries. India launched a lunar probe in 2008 and ranked first among Asian countries by having an unmanned rocket orbit Mars in 2013.
"Nonetheless, the development of a country's space technology is determined by the size of its input.
"The US space budget in 2013 was $39.3 billion, China $6.1 billion, Russia $5.3 billion, Japan $3.6 billion and India $1.2 billion.
"As India's GDP is about one-fifth to one-fourth that of China's, the share of investment in space technology in India's GDP is similar to that of China's.
"There is another figure that deserves attention. India's defence budget is about one-third of China's, a higher percentage of GDP than that of China."
It said the Indian space programme was based on certain considerations, including an ambition to make New Delhi a great power.
Also, India felt it should remain present in space technology development, given its close links with military, the daily said.
"On the whole, India's space technology still lags behind the US' and China's. It has not yet formed a complete system.
"There is no Indian astronaut in space and the country's plan to establish a space station has not started."