Yet another feather in Indian space cap

Indian scientists scored one more space goal on December 18 with the successful launch of the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark III. With this, India is just a step away from sending humans into space.

In that sense, the launch marks the beginning of a new set of possibilities that can propel the country’s space programme into an altogether new orbit. The Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE), which will eventually carry humans in it, separated from the launch vehicle a few minutes after take off and was manoeuvred smoothly back into the Bay of Bengal with ease.

The project was also about testing India’s capability to launch heavier communication satellites. The crew module weighed 3.65 tonnes, which means that the space scientists have now made it possible for India to send satellites weighing up to even 5,000 kg.

In an era where the commercial potential is enormous, this means that India will be among the most sought after countries for sending communication satellites. The launch, described by ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan as a great success, was also a definitive way forward for scientists who proved that their success earlier this year with Mangalyaan was no flash in the pan.

In 1984, Indian scientist Rakesh Sharma had become the first Indian to go up in space, but aboard a Soviet space vehicle. Since then, the country has indeed come a long way to a point where it is just a matter of time before more of his countrymen will follow, and on an Indian made vehicle. Not that the path has been without its share of pain, but what has mattered is that with each failure, the resolve of the space scientists has only become that much stronger. The will has been followed up by action as well.

While the technicalities of the launch and the manner in which it was executed is there for all to see and appreciate, what will be the takeaway for ordinary Indians who are otherwise saddled with mediocrity and lack of will of governments to tackle down-to-earth problems like administrative inefficiency and corruption? 

The area of space research and development in India has been among the very few that have been allowed to work without interference and politicisation. No matter which government is in power, none has come in the way of space research.  The success in space clearly shows that India has within  it the ability to rise above the ordinary. Hopefully, someday it will show in other areas too.  

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