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 transistor.fm), in which NP and I discussed India’sContinue reading “Being on the NSI podcast”

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 postContinue reading “A new map of Titan”

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 theContinue reading “The virtues and vices of reestablishing contact with Vikram”

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 secondaryContinue reading “The mission that was 110% successful”

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 miraculouslyContinue reading “The alleged politicisation of science”

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 shouldContinue reading “Chandrayaan 2 and the Left”

The fight over ISRO

My report about ISRO’s ’90-95%’ success claim vis-à-vis Chandrayaan 2 had precisely three kinds of response, split 49%, 49% and 2%. One 49% group went like this: The other 49% went like this: The remainder, which constituted meaningful engagement, was virtually residual. To add to this, K. Sivan has brought a new thing about himContinue reading “The fight over ISRO”

The PM’s Chandrayaan group-hug

I understand Dutt’s interpretation of the moment in question but with reservations about what it signals for the nation’s many oppressed. For starters, how many people actually gave a damn? A few hundred people – many of them mainstream journalists – have been saying that over a billion people did, or should. But even ifContinue reading “The PM’s Chandrayaan group-hug”

Moon, mission and Modi

Should Prime Minister Narendra Modi not have been in the control room during the autonomous descent phase of Chandrayaan 2? Did his presence exert unnecessary pressure on the ISRO scientists? I don’t know if the pressure was unnecessary. Irrespective of who was present where, a decade-long, Rs-1,000-crore effort is going to be high-pressure when itContinue reading “Moon, mission and Modi”

Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)

This review assumes Tanul Thakur’s review as a preamble. There’s the argument that ISRO isn’t doing much by way of public outreach and trust in the media is at a low, and for many people – more than the most reliable sections of the media can possibly cover – Bollywood’s Mission Mangal could be theContinue reading “Review: ‘Mission Mangal’ (2019)”

Why covering ISRO is a pain

The following is a bulleted list of reasons why covering developments on the Indian spaceflight programme can be nerve-wracking. ISRO does not have a media engagement policy that lays out when it will communicate information to journalists and how, so there is seldom a guarantee of correctness when reporting developing events ISRO’s updates themselves areContinue reading “Why covering ISRO is a pain”

Firstpost’s selfish journalism

I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of false balance, which is based on the conviction that there are two sides to every story even when there aren’t or when it’s not clear to anyone what the other side is. I’m also sure you’re aware of how journalism based on false balance can legitimise fakeContinue reading “Firstpost’s selfish journalism”