ISRO former chief K. Radhakrishnan (Nature)

How ISRO Achieved Milestones? Ex-Chief Ponders 18-hour Workdays

Scientists at Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had put in 18-hour workdays ahead of the historic space launches such as Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan, the unprecedented breakthroughs, said K. Radhakrishnan, former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), while addressing the students at the IIT Bombay Techfest on Saturday.

Describing ISRO efforts as role-model for other space missions elsewhere in the world, Dr Radhakrishnan said as many as 51 moon missions by other space agencies were thoroughly scrutinised, especially 60% of them which had failed.

Learning from the failures of others was the key to ISRO’s success in these two historic launches, he recollected. Dr Radhakrishnan was instrumental for launching the two missions successfully amid accolades from the space scientists’ fraternity all over the world.


ISRO scientists worked 18 hours a day before the launches of Chandrayaan and Mangalyaan, revealed former ISRO chief Radhakrishnan.(ISRO)

“We learnt from them and their mistakes,” he noted. By correcting those mistakes and adopting corrective measures, all the space missions were designed to be independent limiting the ground control to monitoring them not to commit mistakes and take wrong decisions, he explained.

Another key focus was on space weather, which is complex and features high variations and they were integrated into the space missions from the designing stage to post-launch stage, he said. The robust planning stage helped in achieving the required accuracy in execution of launch discipline and success as nation’s pride is involved in every scientist’s mind, he added.

It was the subtle difference between success and failure or national pride or national shame which had kept many scientists awake throughout the pre-launch phase and criticism often set them re-work vigorously to achieve the desired results.

Though the Mangalyaan mission to Mars was undertaken at Rs.450 crore, far less than other similar missions undertaken by big nations, many critics had derided India’s decision to take it up terming it expensive. But now the world is there to acknowledge what India has achieved, he reminded.

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