With adequate resources and enough funds allocated from the Union Budget, India also may be able to send persons to space, say, within another six or so years, according to former chairman of ISRO G Madhavan Nair. He was responding to a query from a student at a live online interactive session with school students from across the country here on Monday.
“The main issue is finding adequate resources and also prioritisation of the space programme in India,” said Nair, replying to a student from National College, Basavanagudi, Bangalore, who had asked why India hasn’t sent people into space like other countries. “It would require a huge amount of money, say around Rs 12,000 crore, for putting a man in orbit, but at present the budget is too tight.”
As part of the session, ‘Igniting Minds’, an initiative of the science movement Vijnana Bharati, Nair interacted with around 5,000 students from 55 schools across ten states through video conferencing, according to the organisers. Held at Mar Cleemis College of Management, Nalanchira, over a hundred students from Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Nalanchira, attended the function as well.
Nair spoke to the students about his career as a space scientist with the ISRO, from its sounding rocket launching days to the PSLV to the historic moon mission Chandrayaan that happened under his chairmanship.
“The moon mission was very important because it helped us get into unknown territory,” he said, adding that one of the ‘heart-stopping’ moments was putting the satellite into orbit around the moon.
Scientifically, he said, it is significant to study the moon because that can “give us answers on history of the Earth’s formation.”
He also gave his take on ISRO’s latest Mars Mission when a student from National School, Jainagar, wanted to know if it was possible to find a habitable zone on Mars’ surface, given its temperature extremes. “The atmosphere of Mars is not conducive to life as the temperature varies from - 60 degrees Celsius to 70 degrees Celsius,” said Nair. “Oxygen is also a problem. So the challenge will be first to establish special tents to overcome these hurdles to sustain life.”
The session on Monday was a live demo of Igniting Minds. This is an initiative of Vijnana Bharati to improve science communication with school students where they will interact with eminent scientists and technocrats through online video interactive sessions. Fifty-five schools from across ten states have registered for the initiative, according to officials.