Friday, June 3, 2011

Kalam's age old dream


         Year 2025:  It promises to be a great and historic year for India: the reason: the first Indian will walk on the surface of the moon.

         Ten years later: 2035:  It promises to be another great and historic year for India: the reason: the first Indian will walk on the surface of Mars.

         All this will happen if Abdul Kalam's age-old dream which he keeps mentioning to children frequently materialises. The latest opportunity came to him on June 1 at the Isro hq in Bangalore while releasing a book about rocketry written by S.K.Das, which was published in December 2010. In an interaction with kids who came for the function he said: ``I believe an Indian astronaut will walk on the moon by 2025 and Mars by 2035.'' He asked Isro to make an effort towards this direction.

         Yes, such a declaration will excite and thrill kids, but the question is will such missions ever take place? Is Kalam constantly making such statements only to trigger excitement? This is a feeling being expressed by a section of the Indian space community.

         But, at the same time one must remember that Kalam in November 2004 had recommended that India land on the moon during the Chandrayaan-1 mission and the plan was successfully implemented on the night of November 14,2008 with the Moon Impact Probe (MIP) which discovered water and carbon diaxide on the moon. This was an unmanned flight.

         So, let us not completely dismiss the scenario of an Indian on the moon and Mars as something which cannot take place. It perhaps may happen considering there is an Asian space race with both China and Japan planning atleast a manned lunar landing. In this highly competitive scenario the question is can India afford to lag behind? No it cannot, and India has the capability to embark on such ambitions projects. Unfortunately such programmes get bogged down because of slow procedures, red tapism and bureaucracy..

        However, it needs to be noted that India has yet to give a formal go ahead for a manned mission in the low earth orbit. Again the rocket for this flight--the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)--is not yet ready and is facing a host of problems. With this background ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)'' wonders how India can embark on human mission to the moon even in 2025?  There is no road map for a human mission at all as it exists in Japan and China.

         Again with regards to an Indian manned mission to Mars, perhaps Kalam is unaware that the plan for even an unmanned flight to the Red Planet has yet to be firmed up. So with what confidence can he say that an Indian will be on Mars in 2035? 

        Yes we share Kalam's dream and vision for such a mission.

         And we hope the dream turns into a reality.




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