ISRO HQ (BENGALURU): Gazing at the final countdown for the Vikram lander from 150 m to 30 m, sixty year-old triumphant Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) director S Somanath looked in control – of his emotions – much like the Chandrayaan 3 that was descending in front of him, 3.84 lakh km away.
The unflappable, stoic scientist wasted no time in sharing the euphoric moment as India’s 2023 mission looked complete on the south pole of the moon – a star revered by the billion Indians as Chaand on Karva Chauth and every full-moon night.
The New Indian team was present inside the prestigious quarters of Indian Space Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in ISTRO as Somanath began speaking.
“We have achieved a soft landing on the moon. India is on the moon,” he proclaimed, exuding both pride and relief, as he narrated the sequence to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, live on ISRO conference at 6:03 PM.
Saree-clad women, kids in tow with their father scientists and employees as well as locals gathered in Bengaluru broke into collective joy, clapping endlessly and beaming fulsome smiles across ISTRAC.
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The bespectacled ISRO chief, sporting a sleeveless black jacket atop a white collared shirt still, looked unfazed as he took turns to first congratulate his colleagues — males & females.
“I want to congratulate Project Director P Veeramuthuvel, associate project director Kalpana K and the missions operations director Srikanth and Shankaran who has been the lead of a centre that has integrated all of this effort in last so many years” he said.
As congratulatory messages poured over, Somanath stepped out of the tracking centre to meet the media crew that had gathered in a huge number.
His eyes shone with a glimpse into the future as he disclosed “We are looking forward to the next 14 days from now for Chandrayaan-3,” he affirmed. The anticipation was palpable as he shared that the Pragyan rover would embark on its study of the moon, offering a treasure trove of insights into the lunar landscape.
“Pragyan rover will complete its study about the moon in 14 days”. He revealed that after the Pragyan Rover comes out, many instruments will be deployed ,” Rambha will measure the atmosphere of the moon, Chaste will pierce the surface of the moon and measure the thermo physical properties of the sylgolith and Elsa will touch the moon’s surface and measure the seismic activities or the moon.”
The achievement has not only added a crown on India’s R&D efforts but also swept away the disappointment following Chandrayaan-2’s crash landing four years prior.
Somanath’s joy was evident as he kept on embracing his colleagues, showing what ISRO has become today – a symbol of bon-homie and camaraderie.
“Thank you everyone for the support… We learned a lot from our failure, and today we succeeded,” Somanath, the man from Kerala, lifted the spirits of those who had seen the setback in the last decade.
Addressing the media, Somanath said,” The PM congratulated all of us and said that he would like to personally come down and congratulate each one of us. ISRO’s next mission is Aditya L-1 mission which is getting ready at Sriharikota: ISRO chief S Somanath on Chandrayaan-3 success.
The chief took the opportunity to announce ISRO’s next mission ‘Aditiya L1’which will study the sun. The spacecraft will be launch in the first week of October. Seven instruments will be there.