ISRO: a personal history – a review

ISRO-A Personal History R.Aravamudan, an Engineer with the premier space organization ISRO, writes his experiences in first person singular, in this fascinating book.  His history calibrates with the history of ISRO and both grow together and bring laurels to the nation.

The story starts when Aravamudan joins Vikram Sarabhai’s team that plans to launch rockets. What a journey from then on!

Aravamudan trains with NASA for 2 months along with Abdul Kalam, and then heads to the tranquil Thumba in Kerala for initiating the sounding rockets programme. He, along with Kalam and a few others, under monthly supervision by Vikram Sarabhai builds the TERLS in Kerala.

Aravamudan details the different stages of development of ISRO, the nail biting moments during early rocket launches, the leadership of Sarabhai, Satish Dhawan and Kalam and the trials and tribulations of rocket programmes run by a newly independent country.

Aravamudan also details the sabotages staged by trade unions and the delays caused by the violent workers who were affiliated with the unions.

The sections on the workaholic Vikram Sarabhai who worked until he dropped dead, the sequence of events leading up to the SLV launch ( Kalam was responsible for this), the sequential upgrades to the SLV Programme – all these are so tightly narrated without any letup that you feel the tension building up in you when you read them.

What is remarkable is that, page after page, you see the young engineers trying to solve a complex problem with what ever limited resources they had. Without sophisticated technical assistance from abroad, with limited governmental budgetary support, what has been achieved is indeed remarkable.

If you need to know about what the US did to scuttle the cryogenic engine technology development in India and how the engineers from ISRO overcame the hurdles, then this book is for you.  You get to know about the contributions of often familiar names : Kasturi Rangan, U.R.Rao, Madhavan Nair, Abdul Kalam, Brahm Prakash, Satish Dhawan and a whole list of luminaries from ISRO.

In 1962 a batch of 5 Indian engineers land in NASA for a 2 month training, return to India and help set up the ISRO and make the organization what it is today. In the same year, a team from Pakistan also visits NASA. Rest is history.

A veritable read that no Indian should miss.

Author: Amaruvi's Aphorisms

Banker by day, blogger by night and a reader throughout.

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