Thursday, October 7, 2010

World Space Week?

        Annually October 4 and October 10 is known as the World Space Week when events are organised all over the world to promote space, especially among school children.

       It was on October 4,1957, that the world zoomed into the space era with the launch of Sputnik in Russia. On October 10,1967 there was the entry into force of the ``Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including the moon and other celestial bodies,''

       While the celebrations are organised under the banner of the ``World Space Week,'' would it be inappropriate to say that in India it can be known as the ``States' Space Week.'' ? I do not think so. The reason: the states are organising their own programmes without any national perspective. For example, an organisation like the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvanathanapuram which is a part of Isro talks of  ``World Space Week'' only in Kerala since it is located in Kerala's capital. VSSC after all does not belong to Kerala. but is a prestigious national institution. The theme of this year's celebration is ``Mysteries Of The Cosmos.''

        Why could not the VSSC have planned the events months in advance, teamed up with local scientific bodies and organised programmes at an all-India level to stimulate a greater interest in space?  For example, in Mumbai it could have colloborated with organisations like the Nehru Planetarium, the Nehru Science Centre and the Tifr to celebrate the ``World Space Week.''  How many Mumbai school kids have heard of the ``World Space Week?'' Very few unfortunately. A recent experience makes me feel that VSSC on its own or the parent body,Isro, should explore the possibility of linking up with the National Council of Science Museums to organise the ``World Space Week,'' at a national level in future. I wonder if the Pune-based National Space Society and the Panchukula-based International Space Society have organised anything?

         Space excites and interests practically everybody. If VSSC can think of ways of holding the ``World Space Week'' celebrations at a national level, the public will be eternally grateful to this highly respected national space laboratory. Think of it VSSC!

          Last year, which marked the first ``World Space Week'' celebrations post Chandrayaan, India was among the five nations which had organised the largest number of programmes--the figure being 88. The highest number of programmes were organised by Turkey (147); Romania (129); Slovakia (56) and Czech Republic (47).

         A total of 8191 persons attended the programmes in India. According to the ``World Space Week'' report the celebrations in India last year took off to a great start and the space for astronomy theme struck the right cord among the students. Twelve states were involved in astronomy education. Public activities included painting competitions, water rocketry, lectures and film shows.

        The World Space Week was declared in 1999 by the UN General Assembly in response to a recommendation from the Third UN Conference On the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (Unispace-3). The goal of the ``World Space Week'' is to celebrate the contribution of space science and technology for the benefit of mankind.

         In 2009, the ``World Space Week'' celebrated its 10th anniv with events in about 55 countries. Its theme was space for education.




  1. Hello! And A Very Happy 'World Space Week' to all the space enthusiasts on planet-Earth! As an Educator, I inspire the younger generation of future astronauts, space engineers / scientists and aspiring space technologists. Towards this end, I'm about to build up a team of young filmmakers (for whom I'm a mentor), to come up with a film on my role model - Late Kalpana Chawla. Our first meeting is skeduled to be held on Fri, 8th Oct'10. This will be a tribute to a remarkable astronaut, an icon, an incredible woman and a great, real-life heroine!
    ~Leena Bokil
    Secretary, National Space Society - India Chapter
    Space Advocate, NASA-Honeywell Educator