Friday, May 06, 2005
PSLV-C6 took off successfully from the second launch pad at SHAR (Sriharikota High Altitude Range), Andhra Pradesh, yesterday. I closely relate to these launch vehicles b'coz I've been to SHAR and had a briefing on the process of rocket manufacture. My mamaji (mom's brother) is a rocket scientist at ISRO and had arranged for all us cousins to visit the space centre, a couple of times.
I'd last been to SHAR in 2004, two days prior to the launch of GSLV-F04 (EDUSAT), and watched the vehicle up-close in its launch pad, ready for the liftoff. When it did break free from its chains, I could see that the vehicle which was right before my eyes two days earlier, was going off into space. Mamaji took us on an extensive trip all over SHAR. It was an experience of a lifetime. I was awe-struck at the sort of work carried out by the engineers. Perhaps, what we as software professionals do, amounts to nothing when compared to astronautical engineering. Everything they do is in mammoth proportions - from manufacturing and storing rocket fuels, which is a highly hazardous task, to the final assembly of all shuttle parts. I'd been to one of these assembly towers, where a rocket was being assembled and my jaw dropped at the sight of it and the whole structure towering high above me! The entire operation of vehicle launch is precisely monitored on giant screens in the control room. It sure requires some nerve of steel to work under such live-wire conditions! I won't be able to recollect the technical details right now ;) but the intense thrill I had while watching all of it, still lingers on. And this time, ISRO has really done India proud, as the cryogenic stage on PSLV was built indigenously.
If anyone has a chance to visit a space centre, go for it without fail! One has to see it to believe it. I'd really want to take my kids to SHAR when they come along into my life; hope mamaji wud still be with ISRO then!