On Monday evening, ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' telephoned a friend at the Isro hq in Bangalore to get info about the status of YouthSat which is expected to be launched on February 20.
The friend sounded extremely hazzled and said he has been busy the whole day because of a series of developments. When BMM inquired about the developments, the official asked: ``Have you not read The Hindu? . Everything is given in the paper.'' Asked if the report was absolutely correct, he said it was factual on the whole, though there were a few gaps.
BMM accessed The Hindu on the net and read the report which said that the CAG has questioned the way Isro's commercial subsidiary, Antrix Corporation, has given the s spectrum to a private firm, Davos International, headed by a former senior space agency official Chandrashekhar. The report said that the exchequer had lost several crores because of Isro's decision.
The whole day the channels were covering the development in detail, many of them of course in an exaggerated manner. Though the present chairman of the space agency, K.Radhakrishnan, may not be directly involved, still his tenure has seen unfortunate events casting a slur on Isro's super image. There were two GSLV failures and now comes the scam.
Antrix Corporation has been negotiating with a number of countries regarding getting their satellites launched by our Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). What prevents the CAG from finding fault in the procedure? We have always presumed that Isro and Antrix have maintained a clean record. Let it remain that way.
Isro has a huge organisation spread over several centres. Its reputation cannot suffer because of foolish decisions taken by a handful of individuals, Let us not forget that foreign customers have tremendous trust in Isro and its work horse, the four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
Monday's disclosures could not have come out at a worst time for Isro because an US trade delegation led by its commerce secretary, Gary Locke, is in India to discuss business with Isro, among other organisations. The revelations would have caused a lot of embarrassment to the space agency's officials.
Also the forthcoming launch of the PSLV on Feb 20 will be under the shadow of this scam.
Will the successful launch make people forget the scam?