Indian students are all set to leave their mark at the forthcoming International Astronautical Congress to be held at Prague between September 24 and October 1.
On Friday, ``Beyond Moon and Mars,'' along with secretary of India chapter of Moon Society, Pradeep Mohandas, met two students who have played a key role in the design, development and launch of the country's first pico satelllite, Studsat. They were Chetan Dixit and Prithvi Raj Narendra, who incidentally has his home at India's gateway to the moon and Mars, Sriharikota. Lucky guy--I envy him because that is where I want to stay!
For the last few months I have been regularly interacting with Chetan over the telephone about Studsat, but this was the first time that I had the honour of meeting him. Really it was a great experience interacting with both of them. They had come to Mumbai to apply for the Czech visas which they got.
Along with some other team members, they are scheduled to make a presentation at the prestigious astronautical congress about Studsat. All the very best folks. More about Indian students at Prague in the blogs next week.
Prithvi's dad is a doc at the hospital in Sriharikota and Prithvi recalled watching the launch of Chandrayaan-1 from the terrace of the hospital, and I was at the terrace of the Brahm Prakash hall recording every moment for The Times of India.
Studsat was flown into its orbit by the highly-proven four-stage, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (Pslv) on July 12,2010.
Over lunch at the newly-opened Komalas restaurant in Phoenix city, Chetan provided a detailed account of the post-launch scenario and overall its performance seemed satisfactory to him. He said that they were planning the next mission, ``Studsat-2,'' and was looking for a name for it. Any ideas? Came to know that Pradeep too had at one time worked on a satellite project.
Then after a quick tour of the massive shopping mall, we headed for the Nehru Planetarium where its very affable director, Piyush Pandey, provided us a brief demonstration. As usual, he gave Chetan and Prithvi an astronomy dvd.
I showed them a model of the Aryabhatta--India's first satellite which was launched what was then the Soviet Union--which is prominently displayed in the first floor lobby of the planetarium, but could not show them the model of the Sputnik and other rockets as the room was locked. But for the extremely rude behaviour of a security guard outside the auditorium--I guess his name was Kansare or something close to that---we had a fine time at the planetarium thanks to my good friend Piyush, and Chetan and Prithvi found it a memorable experience.
From the planetarium, we came home where we discussed for some time mainly space---it was after all space which brought all of us together.
And I hope it remains that way.