The shadows of Chandrayaan 2

When in September 2019 the surface component of the Chandrayaan 2 mission failed, with the ‘Vikram’ lander crashing on the moon’s surface instead of gently touching down, there was a sense in all public spaces and conversations that the nation as a whole was in some grief. Until Wednesday, I couldn’t remember the excitement, anticipation, … Read more

A request to ISRO about Chandrayaan 3

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said its launch window for the Chandrayaan 3 mission is July 12-19. For now, the mission is expected to lift off on July 14 (at 2.35 pm IST). Chandrayaan 3’s mission is the same as that of its predecessor, Chandrayaan 2, with some marginal additions. It has the … Read more

The ideologues cometh for the IITs

In July 2019, when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched its Chandrayaan 2 mission, the spiritual guru Jaggi Vasudev was present in the control centre, along with other dignitaries, getting a close view of the launch from a balcony. After the launch, he was seen taking photographs with the scientists in the room. Many … Read more

ISRO’s national interest bullshit

For data and other objects, like images and videos, it places in the public domain, the Indian government attaches the GODL license – short for ‘government open data license’. The terms of this license are fairly straightforward: that … all users are provided a worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive license to use, adapt, publish (either in original, … Read more

Being on the NSI podcast

Narayan Prasad, the CEO of SatSearch, hosts a popular podcast called NewSpace India. Every episode, he hosts one person and they talk about something related to the Indian and international space programmes. I was the guest for the episode published January 17, available to listen here (on, in which NP and I discussed India’s … Read more

A new map of Titan

It’s been a long time since I’ve obsessed over Titan, primarily because after the Cassini mission ended, the pace of updates about Titan died down, and because other moons of the Solar System (Europa, Io, Enceladus, Ganymede and our own) became more important. There have been three or four notable updates since my last post … Read more

The virtues and vices of reestablishing contact with Vikram

There was a PTI report yesterday that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is still trying to reestablish contact with the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. The lander had crashed onto the lunar surface on September 7 instead of touching down. The incident severed its communications link with ISRO ground control, leaving the … Read more

The mission that was 110% successful

Caution: Satire. On October 2, Kailash S., the chairman of the Indian Wonderful Research Organisation (IWRO), announced that the Moonyaan mission had become a 110% success. At an impromptu press conference organised inside the offices of India Day Before Yesterday, he said that the orbiter was performing exceptionally well and that a focus on its secondary … Read more

The alleged politicisation of science

“Don’t politicise X” has become the defence of choice for a class of scientists and public intellectuals in India whose class and caste privilege utterly blinds them to various inequities in the practice of science – as privilege is wont to do – and who labour with the presumption that these inequities, should they miraculously … Read more

Chandrayaan 2 and the Left

Since after September 7, when the Vikram lander of the Chandrayaan 2 mission failed to touchdown on the lunar surface, many writers and thinkers on the political left have been adopting a stance of the mission I find hard to stomach. Their arguments can be summed up thus: that CY-2’s mission is half-assed and should … Read more