Gaganyaan: The ingredient is not the recipe

The nose cone bearing the spacecraft of the Chandrayaan-3 mission ahead of being fit to the launch vehicle.

For all the hoopla over indigeneity – from ISRO chairman S. Somanath exalting the vast wisdom of ancient Indians to political and ideological efforts to cast modern India as the world’s ‘vishwaguru’ – the pressure vessel of the crew module that will one day carry the first Indian astronauts to space won’t be made in … Read more

Something more foolish than completing phase 3 trials in 1.5 months?

That the Union government and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had entered into a more intimate, but not necessarily more beneficial, relationship became evident in 2019 when then ISRO chairman K. Sivan trotted out a series of dubious claims to massage the fate of the Chandrayaan 2 mission, whose lunar surface component had obviously … Read more

What arguments against the ‘next LHC’ say about funding Big Physics

A few days ago, a physicist (and PhD holder) named Thomas Hartsfield published a strange article in Big Think about why building a $100-billion particle physics machine like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a bad idea. The article was so replete with errors things that even I – a not-physicist and not-a-PhD-holder – cringed reading them. I … Read more

A meeting with the PSA’s office

The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) organised a meeting with science communicators from around India on January 27, in New Delhi. Some of my notes from the meeting are displayed below, published with three caveats. First, my notes are not to be treated as the minutes of the meeting; I only jotted down … 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

Why are we going to the Moon again?

At 2:51 am on July 15, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its Chandrayaan 2 mission on board a GSLV Mk III rocket from its spaceport in Sriharikota. The rocket will place its payload, the orbiter, in a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. Over the next 16 days, the orbiter will raise its … Read more

Solutions looking for problems

There’s been a glut of ‘science projects’ that seem to be divorced from their non-technical aspects even when the latter are equally, if not more, important – or maybe it is just a case of these problems always having been around but this author not being able to unsee it these days. An example that … Read more