The triumph of Chandrayaan-3 – India’s moon mission – was the culmination of tens of thousands of hours of research and analysis by hundreds of scientists, engineers and technicians, who propelled the country into space history last month after the Vikram lander made a soft landing near the moon -south pole. Spearheading the efforts of the Indian Space Research Organization was the agency’s chief S. Somanath, who spoke exclusively to NDTV on Saturday about his personal and professional journey and India’s importance in creating and establishing a ‘permanent habitat’ on the moon, Mars and exoplanets.
Among the points the ISRO chairman discussed were the many challenges he faced over the course of his career, including the (now barely credible) comment “my position (in ISRO) was threatened… I had been thrown out could be”.
“… don’t think everything was nice for me in my life… I have also faced challenges in personal life and official life. You (meaning he) can be kicked out of an organization.. .your position may have been threatened (and) you are sometimes not even treated with great respect,” Mr Somanath told NDTV.
Looking back on his career, India’s top spaceman recalled harsh words before an earlier launch.
“Many years ago… at the launch of the PSLV Mark-III expedition there was every possibility of failure, but someone had to make the decision (of the launch) and I took it. I think I was threatened… … that it would be a “colossal failure,” he said.
‘But there was no one else and I did it… and it was successful. A lot of things in life happen that way.”
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The ISRO boss said with a smile on his face that even though he had been criticized and his competence questioned, he had taught himself to rise above the ‘foolish words…foolish actions’ of some people.
“‘…you are not a suitable person (for this role)’… I hear all these criticisms, but you have to raise yourself above these foolish things. Once you reach that point (of self-confidence), you can look at these kinds of people and smile. Their foolish actions can be ignored.”
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“How do you do that? You go through a process… learn how to develop your self-confidence. And once you do that, you stop worrying about these stupid people and their words,” he told NDTV.
The man who turned India’s wildest space dreams into reality is soft-spoken and erudite, and describes himself as an “explorer.” “I am exploring the moon… the inner space. It is part of my life’s journey to explore science and spirituality,” he said at a temple after Chandrayaan-3 landed on the moon.
That “journey” involves understanding one’s weaknesses and limitations.
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said Mr. Somanath. “I had several limitations… both in terms of technical capabilities and my own personal capabilities. You work on this in your own way over a period of time. For me, my mental and physical growth and the growth of professional knowledge was due to various people who came into my life at different times and gave me insight.”
On India Habitat on the moon, Mars
On India’s future space plans – including the Aditya L1 solar and manned Gaganyaan mission – Mr Somanath said if humanity plans to travel beyond Earth, habitat creation is needed on the Moon and Mars, as well as exoplanets, and that Indians should be there. .
“We consider ourselves today so inferior… that we are not technologically advanced, not financially powerful. And we always think that we are poor, so we cannot invest in all this. I believe this must go away. for a nation that thinks they are the ones who create knowledge,” he said.