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THE LURE OF SPACE November 17, 1882: The British Royal Observatory reported strange celestial visitor-a circular object glowing green. June 24, 1997: An Idaho (USA) businessman Kenneth Arnold, while flying near Mt. Rainier (Washington), spotted a group of nine silvery crescent-shaped objects, flying in tight formation. What were those strange sightings? They looked nothing like birds, were nowhere near in appearance to aircrafts and were quite different from clouds. Were they illusions? Were they hoaxes? Were they unidentified flying objects from the 'extraterrestrial? There has been no confirmation or explanation for these and other numerous sightings before and after. Same holds true for the crop circles, intricate precision of pyramids, gigantic stone hinge, etc. Almost each one of us, at one or the other point of our lives, has gazed up to the sky marveling at its sheer beauty, wondering where does it begin? Where does it end? What lies beyond our sight and what facts are waiting to be unveiled? Are we not alone? Are we sharing this existence? Are we the most primitive or the most advanced? Won't it be too arrogant to believe that we are the only one in this universe? Do aliens and E.Ts exist? This unknown and unexplained aspect is the biggest 'lure of space'. A blend of earth, fire, water, air, and ether is said to be the basis of life. Man, the most developed life form on Earth, has been gifted with two unique qualities: one is curiosity and the other is perseverance to scrutinize what leads to curiosity. Through different phases of development, gradually man tamed fire; circumnavigated the earth; explored and analysed the land to its core; fathomed the oceans to their beds and scanned the air with hot air ballons, aircrafts and spacecrafts, tracing different layers of atmosphere. But ether or S-stupendous P-promising Aalluring C-combination (of) E-eniganatic entities Posed a bigger challenge than anticipated. The advent of telescopes has enabled us to realize that there is more to the universe than mere earth, moon, sun and stars. The vast expanse of nothingness containing innumerable stars and other celestial bodies and galaxies and many a mystery that is yet to be discovered, is mesmerizing as well as charming. As it is, the idea of the conquest of space is as old as the human brain. Long before Kepler discovered celestial mechanics making interplanetary travel conceivable, space traffic existed in legends. Man rose to the heavens and gods visited Earth. The Puranas mention Devarishi Narad travelling to and fro in time and space. The first space novel was written in 160 AD. The first technical drawing of a three-stage rocket dates back to 1526. So we, the mankind, were bewitched by it and set off to pursue this highly tempting adventure. Gradually the space research and development and technology started progressing and led us to that platform where the space race triggered in July 1956 with the USA announcing a satellite launch. The erstwhile USSR, which had also made a similar announcement after the USA, had the honour of launching the first ever satellite SPUTNIK 1 on Oct 4, 1957 and amazed the world. This flagged down the space race le by the then USSR, from 1957-1967 setting up many records likeLaika, a dog, became the first living being in the Earth's orbit aboard SPUTNIK 2, 1957; Yuri Gagarin on board VOSTOK1, 1961: First person in space an in Earth's orbit;

Valentine Tereshkova became the first woman in space on board VOSTOK 6, 1966; First probe to impact the Moon was LUNA 2, 1959; First space station SALYUT1, 1971; First permanently manned station MIR orbited the Earth from 1981 to 2001 and the list goes on. From 1967 onwards, the US started gaining on the then USSR. The US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration: (NASA) designed the APOLLO programme, which intended to land humans on moon. Six of these missions, APOLLO 11 to APOLLO. If achieved the goal, amongst which APOLLO 11 became a milestone in the field of space exploration. Astronaut Neil Armstrong became the firs man to leave footprints on the moon. His words "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", are emblazoned in gold in the history of space exploration America's first space station 'SKYLAB' kept the NASA busy from the end of APOLLO project to late 1970s. Building of reusable space vehicles, i.e. space shuttles by the NASA added another feather to its hat. Amongst them, COLUMBIA was the first to be launched on Apr: 12, 1981. Also, the probe plans like VIKING to Mars, PIONEER an. VOYAGER missions to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune; the placing of Hubble Space Telescope; International Space Station (ISS) are the other remarkable feats achieved by NASA. In 2006, China became the ninth nation capable of sending 'taikonauts' (Chinese for astronauts) to space in their own spaceships. The other space-faring states are France (1965 Japan (1970), UK (1971), European Space Agency (1979), Israel (1988 and Iraq (1989). India joined the club in 1961 when the Atomic Energy Department started a programme on space research. It was realized that the exploitation of the vast potential of space for socioeconomic development can be done only if India develops 'satellite launching' indigenously an< becomes self-reliant. The spirit of Indian space programme can be surmised in the following lines: 'Don't worry and fret, fainthearted, The chances have just begun. For, the best jobs haven't been started, The best work hasn't been done' Accordingly, in 1972, a space commission was set up in India. The Department of Space was established which carried out its plans through Indian Space Research Organisation. India made its debut in the field of space research on April 19,1975 when the first satellite, designed and fabricated by India, was launched from the erstwhile USSR. It was a purely experimental satellite christened Aryabhatta' after the famous Indian mathematician. It set the pace for all space-related ventures in India. On April 2, 1984, Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma, an airforce pilot, became the first Indian in space. Aboard the Soviet Union spacecraft Soyuz T-ll, he did multispectral photography, anticipating the construction of hydroelectric power stations in the Himalayas. Since then India has successfully launched a series of satellitesBhaskara 1; APPLE; the INSAT series; SROSS 3; IRS series; EDUSAT, etc., Simultaneously India has developed a range of launch vehicles namely SLVs, ASLVs, PSLVs, GSLVs and also has a launch site at Sriharikota. India

has progressed inch by inch learning from its failures, modifying and refining techniques, honing skills and never looking back banking on the faith that: "Manzil unhain milti hai, jinke sapnon mein jaan hoti hai. Pankhon se nahin, houslon se uhdaan hoti hai." In this world where criticism is all pervasive, space programmes have no exception. Huge amounts of money are being spent on them, with each country having its own respective urgencies and responsibilities to cater to, is liable to raise questions. The answer to this is not complete yet. We know not where this hard work and expense will lead us? It might take ages to conclude. Nonetheless we had to start and we have to keep on going because without beginning there is no journey and without journey there will be no end. Who knows, we might find the solutions to all our problems in space only. As for now, daily weather forecasts, telephone calls to the far end of the earth or steering a boat with global positioning system are using space research and development. Remote- sensing satellites are monitoring our environment and managing natural resource efficiently. Communication technology has been revolutionised. Choice of one among hundred TV channels, ISD at cheaper rates, free e-mails and remote area connectivity are only the preliminary benefits derived from the 'lure of space'. The best part is that these services not only pay their way out but are generating more and more profit for the general economy. Whole branches of economy are thriving on space services. Whether they are operated by private or by public bodies, their value and contribution to the economy as a whole, far outweights their development costs. In the future, space technology will have a multifaceted role to play in preventing orbital collision of earth (as between Jupiter-comet Shoemaker Levy), alerting us before the occurrence of natural calamities and harnessing alternative energy sources like Sun. "Without the creative utilization of the space, the future will have no base! And so I say: Let's give in to the LURE OF SPACE." Last but not the least; I salute all those who sacrificed their lives for the benevolent cause of space research and say: "Let not their efforts be wasted, For the rise of mankind, who perished? Let their vision, dream and passion Be realized and cherished."

"Kalam said; if one does not do anything, one does not experience any problem. But if you do any mission, any task, problems will arise. That problem should not become your master. You should become the master of the problem, defeat that problem and succeed." The foregoing was the piece of advice given by Prof. Satish Dhawan to Dr. A.RJ. Abdul Kalam in 1972 when Prof. Dhawan and Prof. Brahm Prakash asked Dr. Kalam to be the Project Director for the first Satellite Launch Vehicle at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala). Prof. Dhawan bucked up Dr. Kalam: "I will give you the required budget. We must do it in seven years. All manpower will be available to you from the organization and from all the centres. We will all work together. Even the Chairman will work for the programmeIt is a very important programme." The first experimental fight on August 10, 1979 failed on account of a leak of oxydiser-red, fuming nitric acid. The experiment failed, but Dr. Kalam did not fail. He sought to locate the cause of failure and the task was made easy by the Chairman of the Failure Analysis Board. The Chairman of the Board and then membersecretary of Board, Dr. Madhayan Nair interviewed 125 scientists and staff about the failure. He analysed over 200 data records. A report was submitted by experts who pinpointed the failure of the air-conditioning plant, which led to dust entering the valve system of the control power plant, resulting in its malfunctioning. Dr. Kalam saw to it that all systems went through rigorous checks. He made constant visits to work centers to see to it that the zeal of the scientists did not flag on any score. July 18, 1980 was a proud moment for India when India's space scientists launched the Satellite Launch Vehicle 3 (SLV-3) rocketing India into the Space Club. The rocket put the 38.5 kg Rohini satellite into orbit in just 12 minutes. The hero of the saga was none other than Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Twenty-five eventful years have gone by and both Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Dr. Kalam have scripted one success story after another. The one-time space scientists, Dr. Kalam is now former President of India and ISRO has become a space organization with manifold programmes and achievements that have won kudos from both developing and developed countries. The US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the space agencies in Europe and Russia are keen to foster joint venture programmes in India. The scientist never stops growing or learning. It was the ever inquisitive scientist in him that brought Dr. Kalam to VSSC in Kerala on July 28, 2005 to rub shoulders with his old colleagues. He worked here for 20 years and laid before ISRO a vision plan for the next fifteen years. India was the sixth nation to join the elite space club in 1980, and the world took note of it. On this firm foundation laid in 1980, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) can today launch a payload of 5,000 kg. ISRO is able to meet the various demands of the nation in remote sensing communications, meteorology, television, telecommunication, tale-education and several other scientific experiments. Except for a solitary failure in 1993, every Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) flight was a success over the past twelve years. AS far as communication satellites are concerned, what is required is a launch capability of 3.5 tonnes and ISRO has come out with a configuration of GSLV (Mark III) that would have the capacity to carry four tones. The launch is scheduled to take placed in late 2007. The new vistas on distance education were opened up recently when the President of India inaugurated the first interactive network on EDUSAT-an Education Satellite that could widen its reach by promoting the selflearning method by laying emphasis on the question and answer methodology. It would also ulilise digital library facilities that were now being put in place so that it could be made accessible to students in remote areas. Eventually EDUSAT would be connected with the village knowledge centres being set up in different parts of the country. This apart, about 1,000 primary schools would benefit from EDUSAT. Twenty major

institutions, including the Indira Gandhi National Open University, the University Grants Commission and the All India Council of Technical Education would start telecasting educational programmes using EDUSAT in 2005 itself. Over 1,000 teacher-training institutes will also use EDUSAT transponders for telecasting lessons. The advent of communications technology, especially Satcom, has enabled taking the benefit of medical science to a large section of the people in remote and inaccessible villages. Since 2001, when the space- based telemedicine network was established ISRO has been providing telemedicine technology and connectivity between rural/remote hospitals and super speciality hospitals and connectivity for mobile telemedicine units in rural areas, especially in the areas of ophthalmology and community health. Starting as a point-to-point system connecting the doctor and the patient alone, it has evolved into multipoint connectivity through servers, linking remote hospitals, rural units and super speciality hospitals in different parts of the country. An impact study conducted by the ISRO on 1,000 patients showed that thanks to telemedicine, the patients had saved 81 percent of the cost because of savings in travel, stay and treatment at city hospitals. ISRO had also combined with the IT industry to do extensive work in developing software and hardware for medical applications. The development of technology-based healthcare delivery systems through the satellite medium could substantially augment existing healthcare, especially in rural and remote areas. ISRO has also promoted tie-ups with industries and academic institutions. The Public Sector Units (PSUs) and the private industry are able to meet almost all the requirement of the Space Department.There a strong linkage with about 300 industries associated with the production of hardware. The VSSC does only research and development work and prototyping. The production is done by the industries in elaboration with the Centre for exclusive use in the country's programmes. As far as academic institutions, VSSC works with the Indian restitute of Technology (IIT) and the University of Hyderabad. It has interaction with more than 50 academic institutions. Though VSSC has been able to realize the vision of Vikram Sarabhai r respect of remote sensing and communications, the organization faces problems in regard to launch vehicle technology since they do not get inputs from anywhere. It faced two failures in launching the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV). They served as great lessons in technology and the organization has stood to gain from these failures. ISRO can be really proud of its indigenisation: from 80 percent to 82 percent of the systems and subsystems are indigenously fabricated. The only area the organization is dependent is on imports of avionics designs. But even here ISRO hopes that it can overcome the problem in just two years. ISRO is also working on reusable launchers; these reissuable rockets will come back after putting the satellites in orbit. One such reusable system is called hyper plane with 100 takeoffs and 100 landings. India's pioneering work in the field of hyper plane is the result of innovative thoughts of Air Commodore (retired) R. Gopalaswami. ISRO is yet to decide whether to have single- stage or two-stage rocket systems as reusable launchers. Why reusable launch vehicles? The idea is to reduce the launch cost. At present, the cost is about $15,000 to $20,000 per kg of payload. To reduce it, ISRO has to change from expendable vehicles to reusable vehicles. The reusable vehicle will be an aircraft-like module-a version of the hyper plane visualised by the President-that can re-enter the atmosphere withstanding the high temperature that would be generated on re-entry. ISRO proposes to launch a reusable vehicle by the end of 2005 or early next year. The spacecraft would remain in orbit for three to 30 days. In orbit, it will carry out micro-gravity experiments. Then it will debit to return to earth. It would land at sea using three parachutes that would bring down the velocity to 15 metres a second. The

objective is to demonstrate reusable launch vehicles. A larger reusable vehicle i under development at ISRO and it would be ready in three to four year; While inaugurating a symposium on launch vehicles, organized i connection with the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the first successful launch of the satellite vehicle SL V-3, at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram on July 28,2005, Homble President Dr. Kalai exhorted India to join the race to set up mining and manufacturing industries on the moon and Mars. He said that the next industries revolution would take place in space and that India should prepare itself for manned space missions to the moon and Mars. He said the count: should develop the capability to refuel, repair and maintain satellites orbit. Hectic days are ahead for India, the fast emerging space power. ISF is collaborating with the Ahmedabad-based Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) to draw research students towards the lunar mission. A number of universities their own are also planning to start programmes connected with the lunar mission. In a nutshell, Chandrayaan-1 will provide challenging opportunities for planetary research for the younger generation. Many of the global players who have themselves gone ahead in space exploration are keen to tie up with India in different facets of space probes. For instance, India may launch Russian satellites for a global navigational system in 2006. The launch will take place under an Indo-Russian accord on the joint use of the Russian satellite communication, GLONASS, signed in December 2004 during the Russian President, Mr. Vladimir Putin's visit to India