Encourage scientists to realise space ambitions
By The New Indian Express
16th July 2012 12:01 AM
It’s another day of pride for Indians as Sunita Williams is the commander of a spacecraft that blasted off from the Baikonour cosmodrone on Sunday to the International Space Station. As the head of the mission, she has added another first to her illustrious career, which has seen her to be the first woman to take the longest space flight of 195 days, the first woman to take the highest number of space walks — four — and the first woman to spend 29 hours and 17 minutes on these walks during her first space mission in 2006.
The second Indian-American woman to be an astronaut — the other being Kalpana Chawla who died in the accident involving the space shuttle Columbia in 2003 — Sunita will take over as commander of the space station when its present two-member team returns to earth. During her stay in the space station, she is expected to take two more space walks to add to her impressive tally. She is familiar with her home in space since she had lived and worked there for six months in 2006.
The space flight underlines the growing importance of Indian scientists, a fact that is also evident from ISRO’s decision to host the 39th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research with the theme: Space — for the Benefit of Mankind. ISRO’s role in space programmes is internationally recognised and should persuade the government to encourage scientists instead of treating them as shabbily as it did in the case of the former ISRO top brass.
The encouragement is needed because ISRO is expected to send a mission to Mars in November next year with the intention of studying the planet’s climate, geology, origin and evolution along with the old question of the presence of life. Although India is yet to send men into space, as China recently did, the Mars trip, and the exploits of astronauts like Sunita, will underline the capability of Indians in space — the final frontier.
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