Many scientists at the INSAT Master Control Facility (MCF) in Hassan would have felt vindicated, on seeing pictures of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Radhakrishna praying at Tirupati and placing a replica of the PSLV-C25 rocket before the deity.
For these scientists in Hassan MCF, responsible for post-launch operations on satellites, had begun the practice of offering replicas or miniatures of satellites to Manjunathaswamy temple in Dharmasthala in 1983. Years ago, the Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari had confirmed the practice in an interview with Express. “In August 1983, during the launch of INSAT-1B, the solar panels did not open, creating tension among the scientists,” he had said, tracing the reasons behind such practice. Following this incident, a team of scientists from MCF visited Dharmasthala and offered prayers. Since then, prior to the launch of satellites, the scientists with the replica of a satellite offered prayers and later donated the replica to the temple.
As scientists visiting Dharmasthala kept a low profile, the practice became public knowledge only after 2005. When ISRO launched INSAT-4A, a fourth generation telecommunication satellite, from Kourou in French Guyana on December 22, 2005, its replica was given a place at the Manjusha Museum in Dharmasthala. However, the practice ended in 2006 when senior ISRO officials disapproved of the practice, saying it came in the way of spreading the scientific spirit of enquiry.