All the space you want...

If you are looking for a hands-on understanding of what space is and the various missions that set out to explore it, look no further than the Space Technology gallery at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum in Bengaluru. From rockets launched to the food that astronauts eat when in space, there is a lot for one to explore here. What’s more, one can get a glimpse of space technology and in particular, India’s space programme. “The Indian space programme had a very humble beginning, with satellites like Aryabhata and Bhaskara being built abroad. But today, we are in a position to build our own satellites and rockets. The gallery tracks this journey and also offers insights into the programme’s pioneers,” says K Madangopal, director of the museum. 

Under one roof

The gallery, set up on the second floor of the museum, brings out various facets of Space Technology in an easy-to-comprehend way through several interactive exhibits. “Though the gallery was launched in 1999 as the ‘Emerging Space’ gallery, we felt the need to update it as many significant developments had taken place over the years,” says K A Sadhana, the gallery’s curator.

The new gallery was inaugurated last year after careful research to ensure that the models displayed are accurate and can engage the visitors. For instance, for the gallery’s replica of the space station at Sriharikota, the staff of the museum visited Sriharikota to ensure they replicate the station as it is. Additionally, to give visitors a sense of how rockets are launched, a demo is given, which is followed by an audiovisual presentation that shows how a satellite is placed in its orbit. In essence, it shows the actual launch sequence from countdown till the rocket takes off.

When one enters the gallery, one is greeted by a statue of Rakesh Sharma and a few pictures from his personal collection that showcase what life is like in space. Not only does this serve as a perfect introduction to space, it also makes visitors (especially youngsters) excited on what’s to follow.

In ‘What is Space?’ section, one gets a basic overview of what space is, with the help of a variety of explainers and models. Here, there is a model that would give you a sneak peek into how the museum and the country look like from space in different powers of 10. Combined with the ‘Flight Mechanics’ section, which showcases the basics of how space rockets work, the introductory segment showcases the most complex concepts, which are explained in a simple manner with models that one can operate. 

In another section astronaut Sunita Williams details her life on the International Space Station through a video. What’s more, you could also place yourself at the ISS through the gallery’s nifty use of augmented reality technology. Here, the visitors, particularly children, have the most fun. A little further away, you also get to know what kinds of food astronauts eat in space and what they wear. “Such sections not only make the children have fun while learning but also allows the adults to explore more,” says Reena, a visitor.

Interactive display

At the Indian Space Programme section, there is an interactive display of India’s most popular and successful space programmes — Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Mission. It also has models of various satellites that India has launched. A small touch display screen, also operable by visitors, provides information about each of them. A model of ‘Aditya’, a satellite intended to be sent to the sun, is also present.

Visitors also get a chance to touch and feel what real satellite materials look like as the Indian Space Research Organisation has donated a few original rocket parts to the museum. One such is the original Heat Shield of SLV-3 and also its motor case. “These were designed by APJ Abdul Kalam, who was the project director for this,” says Sadhana.

Through its carefully designed gallery, the museum has ensured that visitors keep coming back. “After we made the gallery, we have been getting positive responses from many. This is because of two reasons: first, it has displayed the new developments that have taken place in space and technology, and second, the number of interactive models we have here,” shares Madangopal.

The museum is open from 9.30 am to 6 pm on all days. For more details, call 080-22866200

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