8 September, 2019
Chandrayaan – A Billion Hearts Beating As One
Perhaps the ordinary Indians, especially the young, have not been as closely engaged with Science and Space, as they have been in the recent past. While they may have happily sat up to watch a movie, a game of soccer or cricket match, it was perhaps impossible for many of us to envisage the young, giving up their sleep to watch something land on the moon. And that precisely is the biggest achievement of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), with their Mangalyaan success and an almost on target Chandrayaan 2.
It was not just the ordinary citizens, but even the Prime Minister of the country was present in the ISTRAC monitoring room in Bangalore at 1.30 a.m. on Saturday, the 7th Sep 2019. Accompanying him were many school kids from across the country and even from Bhutan. If the Vikram lander had succeeded in landing as planned, then, India would have created history as the first nation to land in the South Pole of the moon on its first attempt. The orbiter is still out there and will work, while the communication that was lost with Vikram is still being explored to be set back. It has been spotted by the orbiter and people are hopeful.
Lessons from the moments of despondency
While there was total silence in the ISRO center when the communication was lost, the PM Mr. Narendra Modi, who was apprised of the situation, quickly took stock and gathered the scientists around. He spoke inspiring words to them about not losing hope and proceeded to also chat in the same way with the school kids present there.
If that was not enough, he came back to the ISRO center at 8 a.m. again in the morning and spent time telling the ISRO scientists that the nation stood with them, that it was not a failure, but a step forward. He also shook hands with every one of them and thanked the scientists for their untiring contributions to the nation, and even their families for their sacrifice. In the end, the people the world over also saw how he hugged a visibly upset ISRO chairman, Mr. K Sivan and consoled him. Perhaps, in these moments of failure, many lessons were learned, about leadership, to overcome setbacks, to look and plan and more.
Well, it remains to be seen, if ISRO can manage to get the communication back in place with Vikram and figure out if they can land it or if it already has landed, etc. If so, the mission would still be a stupendous success. Even now, the space agencies the world over are lauding ISRO for their fully indigenous efforts in this mission, that costed less than the budget of a Hollywood movie, much less than what other space agencies have or would spend.
But, perhaps, apart from sport, India found something that can unite its population as one, without any form of discrimination coming in between. Science and space missions have come into the fore; the country was praying hard as one, for the safe landing of Vikram. The whole country, though despondent that the communication was lost, continued to stand by its space agency, ISRO, and it was trending on social media.
Kids across the country stay awoke and are also discussing options to pursue science, their minds are now ignited to pursue unseen frontiers, and they believe in missions like ISRO. They saw firsthand, what goes into such missions, the thrill, the hard work, the sweetness of success, and also the moments of despair. They also realized that real heroes are these people, out of the movie halls, who aspire to follow their dreams, all the way into space. Kudos to ISRO and the Chandrayaan 2 mission. Whether connection with Vikram is established or not, they have managed to achieve a lot – A billion hearts beating as one for one!
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