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  Opinion   Edit  18 Oct 2023  AA Edit | India aiming for the stars

AA Edit | India aiming for the stars

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Oct 19, 2023, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Oct 19, 2023, 12:05 am IST

Private funding will be the way of the future as wide-ranging testing comes into play to create and sustain space stations

 A screenshot shows a representation of Chandrayaan-3's successful landing on the Moon’s surface. (PTI Photo)
  A screenshot shows a representation of Chandrayaan-3's successful landing on the Moon’s surface. (PTI Photo)

If you don’t aim for the stars, you’re not going to get to the moon. I’ll shoot for the stars, and I’ll settle for the moon,” is probably an apocryphal quotation ascribed to P.T. Barnum. The exploratory instincts of India’s renowned space scientists may have been served by such thoughts though they have exceeded all that aimed beyond the Moon as in the Chandrayaan project they ran successfully at a cost so astounding the world woke up to the wonders of Isro’s capabilities.

In setting a timeline for an indigenous space station by 2035 and a desi astronaut on the Moon by 2040, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may not have set super ambitious goals for Indian space scientists. A Gaganyaan experiment, which is a crucial crew escape system test, having been scheduled for the weekend and 2025 set for its tryst with space, the PM’s message may have been his way to bring focus to even grander dreams like interplanetary missions to orbit Venus and to land on Mars, too.

The universe operates on a grander scale and humans are only miniscule parts of a much larger whole. That realisation has not helped us move past racism, war, and other petty conflicts. But, as a meritocratic organisation that operates to its own rhythms, Isro has set the highest standards of melding science and technology and doing it all at an effective cost. They are unlikely to be pressured in any way by the timeframe to take forward their space projects even as Chandrayaan-3 naps on the Moon and Aditya L-1 heads towards the Sun.

Since the timelines stretch to 2040, it is not hard to imagine that there will be space-obsessed billionaires of that time like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, who see colonisation of other planets to save human civilisation and who may be funding the elaborate plans of Isro. Private funding will be the way of the future as wide-ranging testing comes into play to create and sustain space stations and fund manned missions and interplanetary spacecraft.

It might seem that landing on the Moon cannot be that complex considering that US’s Neil Armstrong took “a small step for man but a giant leap for mankind” on the Moon in 1969. Today’s technology is far more complex, testing more rigorous with the accent on safety and sophistication. And yet we must dream on, as the laureate Rabindranath Tagore wrote — “Reach high, for stars lie hidden in you. Dream deep, for every dream, precedes the goal.”

Tags: aa edit, chandrayaan-3, gaganyaan project