The UK is to hand over £98m to India despite the country – which has spent almost the same on a lunar probe – now giving out more foreign aid than it receives.
As part of the UK’s aid budget, the Department for International Development (DfID) will give £52m this year and a further £46m in 2019/20.
It comes despite India spending £95.4m on the lunar probe, Chandrayaan-2, which is set to launch in January.
Meanwhile, India gives away more in foreign aid than it receives – in 2015/16 it took in £254m but gave away £912m.
Tory MP David Davies said India did not “want or need” UK aid and that “in effect we are sponsoring an Indian moon launch”.
Another Tory MP, Phillip Davies, told the Daily Express: “Here we are spending money in a country that has not only got its own space programme but is developing its own overseas aid programme.
“To be honest, the government needs looking at if it thinks that is an appropriate way of spending taxpayers’ money.
“It needs to get out of Whitehall and appreciate the public is not just sick and tired of this but angry too. It is completely unjustifiable and truly idiotic.”
There is no suggestion that India, reportedly home to 230 million people who live in poverty, will use aid from the UK directly for its space programme.
The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter, which also sent a probe to the moon in 2008, will look to land a rover again and collect data from the start of next year.
In 2013, India launched an orbiter to Mars, which is still in operation.
DfID told the Daily Express “traditional” aid to India had ended and that it was now working to deliver joint economic development priorities.
It also said the money sent to India would “help stimulate prosperity, generate jobs, develop skills and open up new markets for both countries”.