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Just 55 years and 2 days ago (precisely as of today, Nov 23rd 2018), the first SLV- Satellite Launching Vehicle of India of 40 Kilo Gram was brought on a bicycle to the launch pad and the pay loads on a bullock cart! It was in 1963 Nov 21, 6.25 pm. Just a matter of 40 seconds mission! The rocket (Nike Appache) was given by America, Satellite launching technology was from France and rest by India, the outcome the so called ‘Cold War’ between Soviet Union then and America. The mission led by the visionary leader, Dr Vikram Sarabhai! An inspiring as well as unparalleled story of dedication and determination by all means.
The coastal plane, Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of Kerala, a less populated fisherman village then, was found due to its equatorial uniqueness (it was very close to the earth’s magnetic equator) as well as easy evacuation of people by getting a ‘Holy Amen’ towards the plea made by the Bishop Dr Pereira during a Sunday holy mass at the St Mary Magadelene’s Church .
That catholic church was the official office of the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launch Station (TERLS). The prayer room was the first Indian Space Laboratory, the Bishop’s room was the design and drawing office. (All these details are beautifully inscribed in “Wings of Fire” by Former President of India, Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the Missile Man of India, who was the chieftain of this mission). “To this day, the church is maintained in its full glory and, at present, houses the Indian Space Museum.” (Wings of Fire) On 22nd Nov 2018 (yesterday) I got a golden opportunity to visit this museum and thereby I was forced to write this article- Author.
The story of bicycle had continued even then with a slight improvement too during the launching of APPLE. In June 19, 1981 the APPLE, an experimental geo-stationary communication satellite had brought to the launch pad on a bullock cart! That mission was also successful. Such a humble but strong beginning by great Indian minds like, Dr. Sarabhai, Dr. Homi J Bhabha, Dr. Kalam, etc. has paved the path for India’s Space Odyssey from 1962.
The whole saga is a mix of stunning success as well as staring failures such as the most venerated launching of SLV-3 in Aug 10 1979 and Ist PSLV mission in Sep 20 1993 together! The SLV-3 carried the Rohini Technology payload, however, ISRO was not able to place the satellite in the orbit. After 317 seconds of its launch, the Satellite Launch Vehicle crashed into the Bay of Bengal due to a faulty valve. It was the same fate for PSLV- P1, it did not reach the orbit also. The desperate minds didn’t blame their team members, they stood together against the beleaguering crowd and marched towards new horizon of success!
In short, after the meritorious success of Chandrayaan-1 in Oct 22 2008 and Mangalyaan-1 in Nov 5, 2013 in Feb 15, 2017 by launching PSLV-C37, the 39th mission of the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle with 104 satellites and lifted off together to the respective orbits which has been ousted the old stories vehemently. Now Indian Space Mission is capable to think about more serious ventures.
[Dear readers, from here onward I took the direct help from Wikipedia to continue my writing] Chandrayaan-2 will be India’s second mission to the Moon, which will include an orbiter and lander-rover module. Mars Orbiter Mission 2, also called Mangalyaan 2, will likely be launched in 2021 or 2022. It will have a less elliptical orbit around Mars and could weigh seven times more than the first mission. ISRO plans to carry out a mission to the Sun by the year 2019–20. The probe is named Aditya-1 and will weigh about 400 kg. It is the first Indian space-based solar coronagraph to study the corona in visible and near-IR bands. Launch of the Aditya mission was planned during the heightened solar activity period in 2012, but was postponed to 2019–2020 due to the extensive work involved in the fabrication, and other technical aspects.
Tail end: “Don’t understand the logic behind races in poor countries like India” Formula One champion, LH