CHENNAI: Salizhan Sharipov trained for eight years before he went on his first space mission over a decade ago. But nothing could prepare him for the Chennai heat. The 51-year-old, who visited Bharath University to inaugurate their brand new Aero Space Research Lab that has been named after him. Sharipov spent the bulk of his time wiping his brow as he addressed students at the event and even had to leave a little early to cool off, a source said. However, the bigger announcement that he would be sponsoring five students in space research evey year created a ripple of excitement in the campus, quickly turning up the temperature even more.
This will be a 15-day programme at the Space Centre of the Roscosmos State Corporation in the city of Korolev, Russia, a university staff member said. Roscosmos is a government body, responsible for the space science programme of Russia and general aerospace research.
Sharipov, who in his career has flown two space missions and logged over 422 hours in space, was all smiles when he addressed the students on Wednesday. “I will take the five best students of this university to Russia for a programme in the summer, to train them on space research,” he said. And the fact that he has been decorated with a Gold Star Medal of the Hero of the Kyrgyz Republic and even has a postal stamp with his face on it was hardly evident from his modesty and hard-to-understand Russian accent.
The two-time spacewalker also added that given that the new lab on the Selaiyur campus has been named after him, he said he felt “a sense of responsibility” to ensure that it reached its highest level.
Dr M Ponnavaikko, vice-chancellor, Bharath University said, “Salizhan Sharipov will be our adjunct professor for the Aero Space department and will offer guidance on all aspects, including research.”
Hoping for a collaborative Mars Mission between India and Russia, at an event a day earlier, Consul General of the Russian Federation in South India Sergey Kotov said to the students, “I hope that one of you will be among the first men from India to fly to Mars.”