Friday, October 24, 2014


Article II of Outer Space Treaty 1967, which is based on the Antarctic Treaty 1959 states:“Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means…”. However, the elite of advanced western nations, not having achieved the escape velocity to take leave of the colonial hangover, does not take kindly to India or other ‘developing’ nations partake of efforts to explore these regions. This is what the western press has to say about the Mangalyaan mission:

“India Mars Mission to Launch Amidst Overwhelming Poverty” was ‘The Guardian’ headline when the probe was launched.... ‘Is India’s Mars Mission the latest escalation in Asia’s space race?’, asked CNN.... The Economist asks ”How can poor countries afford a space programme..?”

This used to be called ‘churlishness’, if one remembers aright!

Balaji Vishwanathan, writing in Firstpost mimics the headlines thus: “European Space Agency launches a satellite despite the inability to control religious riots in Paris and Tottenham, London”

Closer home, Harsh Mander calls the mission a ‘remarkable indifference to the dignity of the poor’! ( Real harsh, he, he, he...The pompous gentleman needs to be reminded that there was only one man who had courage to carry his feelings about the Indian masses to the logical end, and who can therefore legitimately harbour these feelings (don’t know if he did)

BV ends the article with” These journalists are like the rich bullies who enter a poor man’s house and mock at the books kept by the poor man – “You poor people can’t afford to eat rich food and you can afford to buy more books?”

But wait: there are people who know, and matter, in the US, who warmly applauded India’s achievement. Emily Lakdawalla, Senior Editor with the Planetary Society founded by Carl Sagan has this to say:
Today I am delighted to welcome India into the ranks of inter planetary travelers. Today their Mars Orbiter Mission has successfully propelled itself onto an interplanetary trajectory, departing Earth forever and setting sail for Mars. No matter what happens to the spacecraft between now and next September, India has achieved interplanetary travel. Congratulations to India, to the Indian Space Research Organisation, to the mission's scientists and engineers, and to the people of India.
As reported on ISRO's website, the rocket burned for 1328.89 seconds to impart an incremental velocity of 647.96 m/sec. Here's a little animation I put together from photos posted to the mission's Facebook page:
What's next for the mission? According to a Press Trust of India article, the plan includes four trajectory correction maneuvers, the first happening on December 11. The rest are in April 2014, August 2014, and then 10 days before orbit insertion on September 14.

….For this mission, the three most hazardous events were always the launch; the injection onto an interplanetary trajectory; and arrival at Mars. All three of these events have to go absolutely perfectly -- any problem would almost certainly mean failure of the mission. Mars Orbiter Mission has now successfully weathered two of the three biggest challenges. The last comes in September 2014, when the spacecraft will meet Mars.
… We can look at Japan for two tragic cases when this step did not go well. Japan's Nozomi, which was intended to be a Mars orbiter, suffered a series of setbacks, beginning with a short trans-Mars injection burn, and ending with frozen fuel lines. Nozomi reached Mars but was unable to fire its rocket to enter orbit. Unable to be grabbed by Mars, it continued on a heliocentric orbit and, too damaged to produce a useful science mission, it was shut down. 
……Of course there are other kinds of failures, too, like the one that happened to NASA's Mars Observer only two days before it was to arrive at Mars. India is not out of the woods yet; the next step, entering Mars orbit, is a tough one, and it comes after 300 days of deep-space operations. But so far, so good. And so far, it is more than India -- or, indeed, most nations -- has ever achieved before….”[ 30.11.2013]
After the final entry in September 2014 she said “Mangalyaan is already a mammoth success. If the Mars Orbiter Mission does nothing else but return to us a variety of global images of Mars from different positions and phases, the mission will be a great success, as far as I’m concerned”
And you must watch what NASA’s Carl Sagan, the popular American space visionary, spirit behind the Voyager mission, says about ancient Indian thought about the mystery of Creation. This movie was shot in Tamil Nadu by Carl: just appreciate the tenor of the movie so far as the subject 'India' is concerned. Radiates with Carl's curiosity, empathy and affection...that's what a little more of intelligence does to a human being, Louis Malle, Guardian, Economist need to be told no...?

Finally, about Emily’s spouse: Indian born Darius Lakdawalla is the Director of Research at the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California and a managing director and founding partner of Precision Heath Economics, a health care consulting firm. He is best known in the insurance world for his views favouring “Terrorist Cover” insurance policies. 

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