Friday, September 14, 2012

Star of India


Or perhaps "stars" of India would be more accurate, and no, I'm not talking about ships or sapphires! I mean the Ratnaswamy family, who visited one of the main space agency sites in India... something that very few visitorsever get to see.

My Twitter-pal, John R., left this gem on one of the NASA Facebook pages:

John Ratnaswamy
Such an amazing experience for their whole family, and a ringing endorsement for my World Space Agencies map. This is exactly the sort of thing for which I hope it could be utilized! Wow, someone checked it before they went on vacation, and were able to see a space agency they wouldn't have visited otherwise. Awesome.

And it resulted in quite the rare treat that makes me quite terribly jealous! After speaking with John about his trip, I hear that it's quite thrilling to tour around the fast-growing Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), even if photographs are forbidden.

Still, one can get a fair idea of what the Indian Space Agency is up to from their beautifully illustrated literature...

Indian Space Program
Click for full-size ISRO
Space Program Brochure

The ISRO, founded in 1972, is the 5th largest Space Agency in the world, spread across 22 sites (soon to be 23) in India. They are one of the largest satellite providers in the world, working on the construction of their third major launch complex, and also not developing astronaut training center with a mind to future manned spaceflight.

With the success of the Chandrayaan-1 mission in 2008, India became only the 4th individual nation to send a probe to the surface of Earth's moon.

Click for full-size ISRO Satellites
and Launch Vehicles Brochure

Sadly, upon John & family's visit to the Vikram Sarabhai Space Center (which also includes the Liquid Propulsion facility, Inertial Systems unit and the esteemed Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology), they had to surrender their cameras, cellular phones and other combination handheld devices. So, no genuine photographs of the museum, rocket park or surrounding facilities. You have to go there to see the good stuff.

However, special thanks to John for the wonderful brochures, usually only available in India! Some of this information is available on their website, but it takes some digging. Click on either of the above pictures to see 6-page glossy books of the ISO highlights: rockets, research, moon probes, Indian satellites -- and a surprisingly long list of satellites the Indian Space Agency has launched for other countries!