What ails ISRO?
We are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the community of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society – Dr. Vikram Sarabhai
Recently Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had a success in one of its experiments – a pad abort test for a manned crew to escape from a capsule in times of emergency. While ISRO was celebrating a lot many problems were being dumped in the basement literally.
It started with large-scale structural modifications in ISRO Headquarters with the bust of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, father of India’s space programme, virtually dumped in the basement.
Next is stripping ISRO’s Satellite Center of all its frontline scientists and dumping them in the HQ. This will virtually kill any innovation in satellites.
The moon man Dr. M Annadurai is retiring this month and his replacement is slated to be a launch vehicle man with virtually no satellite experience.
GSAT 11 was recalled from Arianespace’s rocket port in Kourou in French Guiana on the recommendations of a retired ISRO professor.
Apart from the huge cost of transportation and attendant risks, there is also a loss of business due to the launch delay. To rub further salt Arianespace is insisting on two further launches of GSAT 30 and 31 at a cost of 900 crore – failing which a firm launch will not be committed.
In the meanwhile, a senior ISRO Center director at Additional Secretary level has been stripped of his powers and made Officer on Special Duty to chairman. Many senior ISRO scientists, who were contributing to various reviews and R&D, have been sent packing.
ISRO now resembles a war zone and the morale is at its nadir. As things stand today, it is obvious that the impact of the present ISRO Chairman will have repurcussion on India’s space programme long after he has gone. Surely the Prime Minister, under whom the Department of Space functions, should get independent inputs and order mid-course correction before there is lasting damage that cannot be undone.