The failure of GSLV f-06 is dis-heartening. Yet, failures are not totally unexpected, though the first bit of information that it happened in the first stage of the rocket is unexpected. But then, that’s OK.
Space programs are always riddled with failures. When the GSLV started veering off the initial stages, it would have been so heart-wrenching for the people to give the destruct command. This had been a work of several months if not years. To give it away is not that easy.
We can get money and materials back. We cannot get back time. So the people who toiled hard on it cannot get back the time they spent on it. They have to spend more time in the forward direction on it. Who knows..? Some of them may retire. Some of them may need to move off to other projects. The work may need to be continued by another set of people, spending their lifetime on such projects.
But then, all these are expected. We need to move on further. There is no question of looking back on these programs.
Many may argue the cost of hundreds of crores on these programs. They may argue that this money could have been spent better on development, infrastructure and people welfare. I do not agree with them.
These few hundreds of crores would have gone down the drain, but for these programs. They would have got earmarked for some development programs which the Big Business, Bureaucrats and the politicians would have looted and stashed away in some canary islands, while giving some pittance away to the poor people.
For this has been the model of ‘development’ India has been following all these years. Loot the few rupees of tax paid on tea, milk, sugar, salt, wheat and rice by the billions of poorest of poor Indians, every time they consume anything, make big ‘development’ projects and share this tax loot between handful of Big Business, Bureaucrats and politicians.
Forget it, let’s move onto GSLV. GSLV is critical for India’s space aspirations. We need to have the capabilities to launch heavier satellites, in particular the two tonne types that would ultimately help us in manned space missions.
The intriguing part is that the space technologies are actually available in the world with India, Russia and China. Of all the Cryogenic engines we bought from Russia, only one more is available. India has been developing its indigenous cryogenic rocket stages and liquid boosters. Yet it has not seen its maiden flight. Hence we have a long way to go, beyong GSLV F-06 and its failures.
This journey is going to be a very painful one, as India almost started from the middle and lacks lot of fundamental research in this direction.
While ISRO goes into a huddle and finds out the reasons for failures, the nation’s planners have to start thinking a bit long term. I see a huge disconnect between the ISRO engineers and scientists and the Government in this aspect.
India lacks good ‘scientific institutions’. I am not talking about ‘engineering institutions’. I am talking about ‘scientific institutions’ which cultivate interest in science fundamentals and promotes fundamental scientific research. There are few good institutes like the IISC Bangalore, TIFR etc. But then in the craze of engineering, I suspect even IISC courses are diluted to some extent.
The IITs and Regional Engineering colleges did great wonders for the engineering streams. The same needs to be done for ‘basic science research’. Government needs to invest in ‘Indian Institutes of Scientific Research’ and create several of them across the country. It needs to bring in eminent scientists (both Indian and foreign) from abroad to India and employ the fundamental science researchers coming out of these institutes in cutting-edge scientific research under the guidance of eminent scientists.
Today Government is promoting Engineering streams only. There is a huge difference between engineers and scientists. Engineering streams have ended up creating hi-tech coolies, though some of them have been technoprenuers. Only science streams can create real hi-tech ‘masters’ and ‘scientists’.
Today’s world can be won by Engineers. But not the tomorow’s world. Space research is all about winning tomorrow’s world. And that cannot be won by Engineers. It can be won only by fundamental scientific research.
This returning to basics of science is not limited to Space research. Be it medicine, bio-technologies, genetic engineering, nano-technologies, fuel-cells or solar energy, in all fields fundamental scientific research is what is going to win us the world of tomorrow.
I am not writing this just because GSLV failed. I am sure in the near future, GSLV will succeed with more bought out cryogenic stages. But then that is not the end of this story. We need to indigenize many of these technologies, if we have to progress on manned missions to space, to moon, to mars and to other distant planets and galaxies. We cannot afford to rest on the laurels of other nations in the conquest of space.
Hope the engineers and scientists of ISRO connect with the planners of this country and safeguard the future path of programs like Space Research by stressing on them the need for fundamental scientific research and research institutions.