By | Ramesh Ranjan | Editor www.humanengineers.com
In its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites today morning (February 15, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty eighth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the 104 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg.
Of the 103 co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C37, two – ISRO Nano Satellite-1 (INS-1) weighing 8.4 kg and INS-2 weighing 9.7 kg – are technology demonstration satellites from India.
The remaining 101 co-passenger satellites carried were international customer satellites from USA (96), The Netherlands (1), Switzerland (1), Israel (1), Kazakhstan (1) and UAE (1).
Isro successfully placing a record 104 satellites—101 foreign satellites and three Indian ones—in orbit in a single launch cements India’s position as a global leader in space technology. But, more important, it also underlines the fact that the space agency has made innovation in low-cost space technology somewhat of a habit, and that could pay rich dividends in the coming years.
ISRO is one of the smallest space agencies in the world in terms of budgets. A mere $1.1 billion compared to NASA’s nearly $19 billion. And when you consider the achievements, it really makes you wonder how ISRO does it. While we are celebrating our low-cost successes, the American and European space agencies are sinking as much as $18 billion and $6 billion, respectively—compared to the less-than-$2-billion the government has allocated for Isro for the coming year—in deeper research and exploration of space
Success didn’t just come about overnight. Our space program was built on the sheer willpower, brilliance, hard work, perseverance & self-belief of a select few These few carried satellites on bullock carts, rockets on bicycles and built prototypes with their bare hands in a dilapidated church. They didn’t have the luxury of drawing on a pool of experienced engineers, millions of dollars in funding and the ecosystem from an existing space program.
With its frugal budget and Government controlled regulations ISRO cannot afford to hire biggies from IIT, IIM or MIT/Stanford/Harvard. Their team mostly comprises of ordinary Engineering Graduates /MTech from Indian universities. Nor can they offer big salaries. The highest paid at ISRO would be drawing less than Rs.50 lakhs per annum, compare that with a Private Sector where a 1 Crore salary is nothing.
So what ISRO has managed is to assemble a team of ordinary People and produce Extra-Ordinary results and have time and again demonstrated that you don’t need to attract the Best Talent from the Top notch Universities paying BIG FAT Salaries to achieve Extra-Ordinary results.
How did ISRO achieve this. What motivates an employee of ISRO to produce such Extra-ordinary results. You can gauge whats the psyche and the feelings of an employee from this quote from a senior employee at ISRO
“The primary motivation was the opportunity of working on something larger than yourself, larger than life and the opportunity to contribute towards that something large, however small the contribution itself may be. We knew that every improvement and test, every component and process, every circuit and line of code was the responsibility of its contributor and only if executed to perfection, could lead to the success that MOM became given the constraints we had. A budget crippled organisation of an experience lacking nation on a tight schedule pulling off an impossible feat in the first attempt: we wanted to be a part of that story. Of course better paying jobs are out there, and of course there are spells of doubt. But in this line of work, motivation is not hard to find. Space is an inviting endlessness where the innate human desire to explore meets uncertainty and hostility: it is my definition of an adventure”
It reaffirms the fact that when ordinary people are energised by an inspiring & motivating Purpose, they can rise to achieve Extra-Ordinary results.
India’s launch is significant not for its raw numbers, but for what the launch represents. Lacking the resources and technology of more established peers, India has to rely on its own devices and every launch, no matter how small, is hard-won experience. And we are learning fast.
If you look at the larger picture of the Indian space program, the 104 satellites launched in one shot would seem like one of many baby steps to space. The real achievement is in putting India on the global map and firing up young minds in our country and taking us to the next step in our technological evolution. It showcases how Innovation can be achieved with frugal resources and confirms that India is a land of JUGGAD Innovation.
It more importantly it is slowly helping to project India as a Technological super power to the outside world.