NASA experts wanted India to share space technology: ISRO chief Somanath

The ISRO chief who was addressing students at an event organised by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam’s Foundation at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu said times have changed and India is capable of building the best of devices and rockets and that is why Prime Minister Narendra Modi has opened the space sector to private players.

“Our country is a very powerful nation. You understand that? Our knowledge and intelligence level in the country is one of the best in the world,” PTI quoted the ISRO chief as saying. 

“In Chandrayaan-3, when we designed and developed the spacecraft, we invited experts from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA-JPL, who does all the rockets and most difficult mission,” PTI reported Somanath as saying.

He continued: “About 5-6 people from NASA-JPL came (to ISRO headquarters) and we explained to them about Chandrayaan-3. That was before the soft landing took place (on August 23). We explained how we designed it and how our engineers made it…and how we are going to land on the Moon’s surface, and they just said, ‘no comments. Everything is going to be good’.”

“They (US space experts) also said one thing, ‘look at the scientific instruments, they are very cheap. Very easy to build and they are high technology. How did you build it? Why don’t you sell this to America,’ they were asking,” he said.

“So you (students) can understand how times have changed. We are capable of building the best equipment, best devices, and the best rockets in India. That is why our Prime Minister Narendra Modi has opened the space sector,” the ISRO chief added.

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The Chandrayaan-3’s lander successfully touched down near the south pole of the Moon on August 23, making it only the fourth country in the world to achieve the feat of reaching lunar surface after the US, China and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

The ISRO chief further said, “Now we are telling you people (to) come and build rockets, satellites and make our nation more powerful in space technology. It is not only ISRO, everybody can do it in space. There is one company in Chennai building rockets called Agnikul and another in Hyderabad called Skyroot. At least in India, there are five companies today building rockets and satellites.” 

Somanath appealed the young audience at the venue to follow the ideology of former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, he said the most powerful tool is to dream. “Kalam sir told you that you should dream when you are awake and not in the night,” he added.

“Anybody have such dreams? Anybody want to go to the Moon? When we landed Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft on the Moon, I declared to Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) that India is on the Moon. And he asked when are you going to send an Indian to the Moon. So, some of you sitting here will do that job. Some of you will design the rocket which will go to the Moon,” he said.

“And at the launch of Chandrayaan-10, one of you will go sitting inside the rocket and most probably a girl child. A girl astronaut will go from India and then land on the Moon (in Chandrayaan-10 mission)” he said, amid applause from the students. 

Speaking of Kalam as “inspirational in whatever work he did”, Somanath said, “Kalam said that power is unlimited and everyone of us have to find that power among ourselves.” 

The ISRO chief said, “It is our responsibility that each one of us contribute to nation building. And India will be a powerful country. In which area will we be powerful? In technology, we will be powerful. Because only if you have technology, others will respect you.” 

Referring to his recent participation in a space conference, Somanath said everybody from NASA and the space agencies of Europe, China were congratulating him for the success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission. “Why are they doing it? Because they realise that India is going to be a powerful nation. You must have confidence in it. We must also think that we were once a very powerful nation with so much capacity. And we were drained out due to various reasons.”

“Today it is a golden era that is coming back and in the next 25 years, we have to build back an India which is technology prosperous. Naturally, it will become economically prosperous. When it becomes economically prosperous you should be able to influence world decisions” the ISRO chief said.

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Updated: 15 Oct 2023, 09:25 PM IST