New Delhi: “Reaching for the Stars: India’s Journey to Mars and Beyond”, a book penned by scribe-writer duo of Pallava Bagla and his wife Subhadra Menon reveals a lot that never made it to the newspapers.
A few insights that the book has to offer reveals that a proposal for India’s ambitious Mars Mission was sent to the government only after the Chinese Mission failed in November 2011, the news of the cabinet approval to the same was kept under wraps for the then PM Manmohan Singh to reveal it in his Independence Day speech, and former ISRO chief U R Rao had preferred a Mercury Mission over the Mars Mission.
Pallava Bagla, who is a science-technology journalist, said that he had the rare privilege of witnessing India’s Mars Mission from close.
Describing the never-say-die attitude of ISRO along with what goes behind-the-scene action, the geo-politics of the space missions and the Asian space race, the book gives an overall view of India’s space ambition through the eyes of a journalist.
The book contains the story about the launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission, Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO’s) first interplanetary mission to Mars with an unmanned spacecraft designed to orbit the Red Planet in an elliptical orbit.
Apart from that it also delves in what went on during the previous space missions including the Chandrayaan I, which according to the book, was given the prefix ‘I’ by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, himself.
Combining the past, present and the possible future of India’s space programmes, the book also gives a delightful pictorial collection of ISRO’s work in the space missions.
A ISRO photograph of the Apple Satellite being carried for testing on a bullock cart in 1981 brings out the paradox of earlier Indian space missions.
The undying spirit and the sheer toil that demarcates ISRO from other governmental organizations is well brought out in the book which says that the MOM Project Director S Arunan is believed to have slept in the ISRO Satellite Centre almost everyday in the 15 months of the Mission.
But ISRO’s quest to unravel the mysteries seems unending with its plans to open the mysterious Sun for the world.
As Radhakrishnan adds, “MOM is not the end of it. It is merely the beginning.”
There are chapters on the future of India’s space programme as well as international explorations and global plans in a shrinking world.
The book was released in September 2014.
(With PTI inputs)