Indian Space History Memory Monologues - S Chandrashekar
Chandra spent more than 20 years working at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). His work at ISRO covered all parts of the programme - satellite, rockets as well as the applications of space technology especially remote sensing.
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[00:01:00] Chandra: satellites.
Okay. Uh, my name is Esther under shaker. I used to work in the Indian space research organization during the. 1993 to sorry, 1974 to 1997. Uh, I joined the space program, uh, after graduating with an engineering degree from IAT Madras in 1972. And then I did a couple of years of management or an MBA program at the Indian Institute of management Calcutta.
And I joined, uh, his role and the profit and profit Dobbins group called the systems, programming systems, programming and analysis group. I just saw headquarters, I think in June, 1974, I left this role around September, 1993 and went on to, uh, a faculty position at the Indian Institute of management BigRoad.
And of course I've been involved in directly or indirectly with all [00:02:00] kinds of space activities, even after my leaving Israel. So, this is about some of the things that occurred to me during my tenure at the, at the space program, in the space program. Uh, I thought some of the things that we experienced at that time would be, uh, would be worthwhile for many of the people who don't know anything about the earlier days of what we did in this role, uh, to become aware of the kinds of challenges and problems that we faced at that time and the kind of people and the way in which it was organized.
And the leadership that it provided to a whole host of other entities, uh, was something that needs to be kind of add and become more prominent. And well-known um, so let me try to, let me try to give you a flavor of the kinds of things that, uh, happen to me. Uh, during my tenure at ESOP, I will only talk [00:03:00] about the things that, uh, I remember very vividly as.
There's a whole lot of other things that have to be studied and understood in greater detail and it's worth, uh, a major, uh, uh, what I would call a narrative or a historical narrative if you want, or what happened and the events and the people involved and what kinds of things made is so what it was at that time and what it is today.
Uh, so I will try and give you a few of the personal things that I experienced at that time, which kind of stand out even now after so many years now, what are the most important things that I remember as a major moment of elation for all of us who worked at this at that time was the launch of the SLV three.
The first launch of the SLB three took place around 1980 or 1981. I don't remember the exact date, but I do remember it was a time of jubilation and, uh, and a celebration of success. There is a small film that [00:04:00] was made at that time by the films division of. I think it is worth looking at that film because that film captures something that many of us may not even be aware of today.
It short the kind of joy and the kind of unanimity of this great achievement that we thought we had achieved at that time. And it kind of symbolized the fact that this law at that time believed that after the launch of, uh, SLV three, we could do practically anything in the world. And technology was not a constraint.
Money was not a constraint. So it was like, you know, the whole world and the whole opportunity space was there for us to take. It was a moment of jubilation and joy for all of us. It was a fantastic event, but let's not forget that before this event happened. The first launch of the SLB three, which happened, I think in 1979, actually failed.
And what I remember about that failure, and again, I cannot forget, uh, the greatness of our, of my boss, professor Davon, [00:05:00] uh, who actually. Did the, did something that amazed me at that time? Uh, he actually, after the failure, he actually took responsibility for the failure. And I remember he made us, he made a statement, as I saw as something that you said we did not fail.
You said something like we were partially unsuccessful. And you know, that statement created a lot of controversy in the pop press. Even today, you can see some of the controversy regarding space activities that comes out in the newspapers and affects everybody else. But what I remember most vividly about that, about that particular moment was that actually took responsibility.
And not only did you take the responsibility, you also wrote a letter of rec. And sent it to the prime minister to say, you said, I take complete responsibility for what happened. And he did tendered his resignation. At that time. I happened to be, I bet many of many people may not be aware of, of this particular event, but I was there at that time and it [00:06:00] definitely happened.
Uh, and in contrast when SLV three actually succeeded in, in, in 1981, did not come and talk about it himself. He made sure that Dr. Calum who was responsible for the, for the SLV three architected at that time actually made all the public statements. So in a sense, it, it kind of, I remember this very gray, very vividly because Pasa Darwin was this great inspiration for a lot of us at that time.
Not only was he an inspiration in pocking, he was also an inspiration in the way he did things. And I believe that was one of the most important parts in my. Uh, and his impact on what I do and how I do it is still there after so many years, even though he's not around anymore. The second incident that I would like to talk about is a little bit more personal.
I would argue, uh, see, one of the things we [00:07:00] set up in this room in the early days was a number of study groups that try to look at what the future was. And it so happened that after joining, I became involved in the remote sensing program, uh, of India I, and another couple of colleagues Rajan. So different two to some extent, uh, were important, uh, components of some of these things.
And we proceeded and set up the study group for looking at remote sensing satellites. And I was the member secretary of that study group and actually produced. We actually produced a report, which in a sense set the kind of trend for the IRS. So I had what I call the beginnings of the remote sensing satellite program.
Uh, I was involved in it. I think the satellite got launched in 1988. Okay. So that 12 year period in my, I saw the satellite from conception through the phases of initial, uh, technological confidence being developed across the board. And then I saw it [00:08:00] actually being made. I was involved in a lot of the activities associated with its making.
I was involved in the mission planning and all that, all, all that went with the mission planning of it. And finally, when it was launched, I was, so I actually saw the cycle from conception all the way to a realization orbit delivery. And then when I saw the first picture that it showed, I think it was a picture of the coast of Tamil Nadu.
And it was like, uh, you know, one of those really fulfilling moments in. And of course you feel very high and you think that, yeah, we have achieved this and there is nothing that we cannot achieve. It was, it was a fantastic, uh, and uh, the fact about IRS was the other thing that made you very proud about IRS was, uh, you sort of actually came up with this choice of the sensor.
The sensor compliment on IRS was based upon a technology called charged couple device technology. And it was fundamentally different from the major [00:09:00] technology which NASA had pioneered called the multi-spectral scanner technology. And I remember the study group with which I was associated, one of my colleagues from the space applications.
I don't know whether people know him, Dr. George Joseph, and his group, the sensor development group that they actually came up with with the idea that the NASA technology had kind of reached its limit. And it was no longer capable of going, uh, no longer capable of becoming, uh, you need a higher resolution capability as we go forward.
And India had this peculiar problem of small field sizes
and therefore higher resolution requirement was important. So I remember the presentation that Dr. George Joseph made to our group, which actually said that the current technology or the one that we were trying to follow had reached its limit, and that we should look at the new technology. Some of the study group was able to understand the implication.
[00:10:00] And we actually pushed a lot of it. I mean, we have documented this, so I will make that report available so that you people can, we actually documented how it happened. The people involved the processes, it's more like a, how innovation happens happened in this world. That time it's, it's a report that I can make available to all of you.
And, uh, you know, it, uh, it, it actually moved. I think it's role was one of the earliest countries in the world to embrace this technology. And I think the French and we were almost parallel or almost simultaneous in our choice of this, uh, sensor for the payload of IRS. And what happened is as a consequence, the parts to higher resolution and, uh, you know, addressing genuine problems of Indian agriculture opened up.
And I think after I left the store in 93, 95 or so was launched and I are, as one, see, when it was launched for the certain period, I think had the district. [00:11:00] That it was the satellite with the highest civilian remote sensing resolution in the world. I think maybe for a period of five or six years, I think that choice still, uh, enables is slow to kind of take a leadership role in the remote sensing satellites of the world.
And I believe that, uh, you know, so my involvement and support and, uh, all that happened as a part of that is a truly remarkable experience for a person like me. And I have to say that a group of us will underscore this and you know, kind of did it and it's all documented. And of course, one cannot rule out the role of prostate Darwin and my other colleague Rajan, who was involved in it.
And a lot of my colleagues from, uh, right, this was, uh, something that, uh, that I thought I should share with, uh, with a larger audience. So this was one thing that I, I would like to add the third thing. I mean, although I don't know whether to call it third or fourth, So one of the earliest satellites, remote sensing [00:12:00] satellites that we employed was called Baskara, which had a very poor one kilometer resolution.
It was a kind of building block for IRS at that time. And it had this television camera, a payload to take pictures of the Earth's surface, uh, when it was launched, the cameras were switched on, but there is a high voltage section and TV, right. And you kind of do some technological potting or to make sure that, so there was some problem.
And the high voltage section created a kind of spark that prevented the cameras from getting switched on. Uh, so we decided to put off the cameras and use the other payload, which was a microwave radio meter in order to be able to do something with it. And then, uh, our analysis and all our experts had done a lot of simulation and.
That because of the gases that were responsible for the sparking. If you allow time, the gases will diffuse out because of the vacuum in space. And maybe after sometime we [00:13:00] will be able to switch the camera on. So the proposal was that after about a year of working of basketball, one, we would try to switch the camera on again.
Now we had a meeting in, uh, I think in the satellite center and I think professor Davon was there and all of us were there. And there was this debate about whether we should or should not do it. Oh, there was a view that if you put it on and the satellite had a problem that we would lose the satellite.
And there was other view that we should take the risk because anyway, most of the mission things had be done. And if you get the image, actually the object would be realized. So there was this huge debate within Israel. And at the end of it, we decided that we would go ahead with that. I have a colleague of mine in the satellite center called P S coil, who was very sure that the camera would work.
And, uh, was also there said, uh, he why'd, he was for the thing. He also said that he, so he actually said something like, we'll take a bet, you know, I can, I could be sure. And all that. So I think there was this bet between [00:14:00] and him, and I think the bet was for rupee one rupee and Pasa Davon said that if it really works, I will give you one rupee.
And so I think finally, when we did switch it on the camera did work and we did take a lot of pictures and we were all very proud of it and all that. I think also Darwin gave a one rupee note to Goyle signed by him and all that. I don't know whether he still has it, but I still remember that very vividly as one of the kind of way in which he sort of looked at all these problems and the camaraderie and the kind of give and take that happens between a very high level.
And I don't know, not so high system of management within the system. So this was something that, uh, I mean, Uh, it's still comes to, you know, uh, still comes to me. Uh, the, the fourth, the other thing I would like to talk about is, uh, you know, the, some of the notions that organizations had about, uh, how easy [00:15:00] or how difficult it is to build on technology that we've actually achieved and to kind of, uh, you know, improve it.
Now, I remember that after we did SLV, the question is, or even before we did SLV Prosser dominant, already started the work about trying to do what was, what had to be done. Of course, one requirement was the PSLV. I'll talk a little bit later about the PSLV, but I thought it's useful to mention that we also came up with this idea or what I call the augmented satellite launch vehicle or the SLV as we used to call it and okay.
And. The idea was that, you know, SLV had four stages. So you would add to equal and four stages to the, to the first stage. So you had a kind of strap on boosters to the first date and you would then go from a 40 kilogram payload to 150 kilogram payload. And because of that, you would, uh, you know, you could do significantly more things in space.
Uh, [00:16:00] we debated this extensively and, uh, I think finally the organization decided that we would go with it. I think the first launch happened after Darren had left yet quick test chairman. And, uh, we realized, uh, the first, uh, the rocket took off. Okay. And just as the two booster stages were going to separate, right.
About 50 seconds into the flight, it failed. Um, so there was usual failure analysis and all that. And a lot of people said, ah, there's some fail safe device that prevents it prevents the satellite from exploding on the launch pad. Maybe we should pick it out and all this. So this was like a top top-down led investigation of the failure.
And, uh, you know, many people at the top felt that this was the reason for the failure and maybe that's why the failure happened. So they fixed that. And we did the second launch of SLV. And if you look at the second launch of ASAP, it failed almost exactly at the same time. [00:17:00] You know, again, at the separation of the, you know, of the booster from the first date.
And so there was this, uh, you know, so there was a lot of introspection and debate within Israel about why, and since the two failures are very similar, you know, maybe there's an underlying reason that we didn't understand what was the reason. And so we had this time and investigation committee from. It was led by
Who's also a student of and a member of the space commission maybe at that time. And that investigation came up with a very detailed assessment of what the failure was. So it came out that it was adding those two strap points was just not an incremental change on SLV, but a fundamental, radical change in the architecture.
So the way changes in complicated linkages of technology, it's called architectural changes, kind of impact performance was something that we all assumed that by doing it, it's easy to [00:18:00] do. We all wanted it to be easy, right. In a sense. So you can argue that it's an organization belief that what we were doing was logical understandable, but technology is not like that.
Right? When you add those two strap on boosters, it's not an incremental change for the vehicle, but a fundamental alteration in the vehicle parameters. So this was a lesson that was bitterly learned by. But I think the greatness of Israel was that not only did it learn this lesson, well, it also assimilated this and we brought a lot of this to, uh, into the PSLV design.
And as you can see, the PSLV design is a robust design based upon this kind of learning. And therefore the ASMR will be, in my opinion, even though we didn't continue with it as a major project was a learning platform for a lot of things that actually happened on PSM. So this is like, you know, what you need to do internally in order to learn the right lessons and to kind of improve upon it and therefore to go forward.
So I, I would argue that this was another main [00:19:00] thing that was characteristic of his role of that time. It was a learning organization, it learned from failures and it kind of built on that learning. So I think that was one thing that I would, I would like to, uh, kind of emphasize. So let's get on to, uh, Oh PSLV.
Okay. I mean, my point would be that, uh, the PSLV possibly represents one of the most successful, uh, long-term, uh, not only built by India, but it, it would stand on par with almost any loan to build anywhere in the world. And, um, when it was configured. Okay. Um, it was a very odd combination, right. We had the solid rocket and then we had the liquid stage.
Then we had another solid stage and the original design had a fourth solid stage. And then finally think due to differences and the way we had to inject something into orbit, it was replaced with a liquid stage. And, uh, [00:20:00] in my opinion, uh, that configuration was odd. You know, many rockets were liquid rockets.
Nobody had a solid rocket and it was an architecture that was indigenously done. And a lot of people used to make all kinds of comments, including, um, uh, uh, whether it would fly at all or not. I would argue that it was an architecture. It was largely, uh, it largely came from within Israel. And a lot of it had to do with, uh, professor Darwin's understanding of it and maybe all the, the technical capability of our Travon drum center BSSC, which is in my opinion, the heart of his source technology.
And, uh, so it was, it was one of those architectures that, and it had several very original, uh, kind of approaches. And it had a lot of indigenous, uh, technology that had been pushed earlier, but it kind of soft proofing in it. I just like to talk to you about a few of them. So one was this architecture, [00:21:00] which everybody said was not going to necessarily be a question whether to work or not.
Uh, the other thing that, uh, that it has. It had this control system that was, I think, very unique in the world. And that uniqueness largely came about because of the constants that is sort of faced. One of the constraints that Israel faced was the fact that, uh, we did not get the required microprocessor, uh, capability because they all came under export embargoes.
I think by the time PSL we had come MTCR was in force and the microprocessors are the heart of Fort when called systems computers, computing capabilities is key to that. And so therefore we had to do therefore with conventional microprocessors and conventional microprocessors, not what are called space quality, right?
So we had to take regular, uh, microprocessors, clean them, put them through some kind of environmental testing and finally [00:22:00] use them. So PSLE had this unique control architecture where there were four micro processes that were working in. Okay. And then one failed. The other three could do the job with two failed the other, other two jobs.
And they were cross strapped in such a way, right. That effectively. I mean, unless all of them failed effectively, the mission will be successful. Now I remember that we had these so and, uh, you know, maybe, uh, wanted a review of, of whether, you know, format. So we got a couple of experts from, I think from NASA, some people from ISA European space agency, the national aeronautics and space administration, and they came and they looked at it and they were actually shocked.
They said nowhere in the world. Right. Have you seen such an architecture? You said most of our vehicles use one minute. Right for the control logic, say, let's not forget the launch. It is not going to last. It's not going to do a function for a very long time. It's going to take a short time because to work really, I believe only for a [00:23:00] very short time, so the problems are elaborate.
They are kind of different for, but, you know, so they were, I missed at this and I would argue that the PSLV therefore represented a very, very under software, very complicated software and logic. But I must say that our greatness in VCC was a fact that it has worked. It has worked so well. And I think PSLV, as I said, has been one of the most successful launches anywhere in the world and therefore it, so the point I'm making is indigenous capability.
Indigenous resign business is, is kind of very, very important part. Now PSLV has other great things that I think is what it represented a lot of indigenous capabilities. What are the choices that is so hard to make was about choice of propellant. The standard propellant that SLV used was something called poly Buda acrylonitrile.
So the shin would be in a better position to talk in greater detail, but let me give you the gist of what I know. So the, so people felt that it was antiquated [00:24:00] little old fashioned, and that we should push the latest in terms of the technology requirement that is needed. And that was something called hydroxyl nominated.
Polybutylene. I remember a meeting in ESOL headquarters where this was debated and finally throw didn't have any, any understanding of it. It didn't have any capability. Also, it was a kind of lab scale demonstration, and we took the risk and said, we will go with that. So hydroxy terminated, poly bitter dying without a lot of.
Just like the CCD decision, right. We took that decision and we went with it and we developed it. We transferred it to industry, it went into production and then it went into the rocket and it's performed very successfully. So this was one other choice. The third thing that I think you should talk about a little bit was, uh, you know, we, we had these, uh, w the critical part of a, of a rocket is going to be the guidance system.
And gyros are very important for that. It's not hard invested a [00:25:00] lot of money in something called a floater gyros. They use a lubricant, a liquid lubricant in order to drive, those have to spin at very high speed. So they need to be lubricated. Okay. And they use the liquid floater gyros as the bean, as the main requirement for it.
A couple of people, uh, I, uh, in, uh, you know, one of the major innovation groups in VSOC was a group headed by Mr. Huerta. Right. Who actually in a sense was one of the innovation pioneers. Many people may not know about his contribution, but I thought I should tell you something about that because, and the soul he and his group, I think a couple of engineers in his group came up with this notion that the alternative technology, which was kind of emerging was something called , which did not involve liquid lubricants, but a kind of dry approach to doing it.
I don't want to go into the technical details, but it was kind of a new technology that is evolving. Right? So the question is whether we should stick [00:26:00] with the old technology and the investments we've made or go with a new technology. I remember I'm huge meeting again in, in, uh, maybe SOC, right. And we finally, again, decided to go with this tune and dry tune genitals flow, not only in PSLV.
They also fluent IRS, which also request generals. And therefore it represented a major leapfrogging in a very critical area. Guidance and control is possibly the most, the heart of any on-set or satellite. And that was one and weather terms group. Also pioneered what I call the solar drives. You know, one of the requirements for, uh, for a satellite is that the solar panels have to get deployed and the salt, the, the panels have to rotate in sequence with the capturing the maximum, uh, what should we say, uh, light from the sun.
So they rotate along with the OPIC. Okay. And therefore they need to be continuously working for the satellite mission, those, those IRAs, but also developed by the same [00:27:00] group. Right. And, uh, uh, they did also these momentum builds that are required for satellites, which kind of provide the heart of the control.
So all these things were done by this group at random. And I think apple, IRS, and, uh, you know, all PSLV where all kinds of common elements that benefited from this. So therefore, and I think finally, which I think I should also talk about it. Uh, one of the other requirements is the structural part. You know, the solid, the part that has to go with the, so it's not used the French team called 15 CDB six in the SLB three.
And the question is whether we should continue to use them or replace them. Right. I think Sudarshan, my colleague here. Talked about merging steel, which is the alternative, which was state of the art at that time. And, uh, we, uh, I mean, all of us at that time felt that it was the way to go. And there was this debate, 15 CDV six.
We had investments. We [00:28:00] had, uh, you know, mastered everything, whether we should go with marauding steel, merging steel, involved a lot of problems because you have to go to get a fabricated. A lot of heat treatment was involved. So we had to tie up a DMD model and a whole lot of other, other entities. So the sun actually did a lot of that work.
And finally, we did go with, uh, marauding steel and again, it represented in my opinion, a major push in the technology side. So I would argue that apple IRS and, uh, uh, you know, uh, uh, and PSLV gave us this major headstart in key areas of technology. And most of these technology developments came about because of Devon's insistence that we create a lot of internal study.
That kind of where the, you know, kind of link the silos of, you know, structure control, you know, uh, different domains of knowledge into something that actually makes sense for a program. So the project position, the program position, and the kind of cross [00:29:00] links that we created actually created this hybrid organization.
So it was a combination of a formal vertical structure and an informal kind of networking that created a, what I would call a very innovative organization. So PSLV, IRS, an apple therefore represent, you know, uh, kind of major intermediate steps and they were all creation to prove the double. Okay. And so that was, that was something that I thought I should talk about.
Okay. Now what else can I say? Yeah. Uh, I think one should also look at, uh, insect little bit because, uh, I. Maybe not directly involved in all of it, but peripherally involved, maybe a little bit and some parts of it more directly involved. Okay. So when went covert in the early seventies, uh, there was a major problem.
Sarabhai had come up with this notion of insect. Okay. And everybody knew that a communication satellite in [00:30:00] geostationary orbit and the ability to reach it. So GSLB, and inside were the kind of goals that the school wanted to kind of get, uh, get at. Uh, and therefore, uh, you know, uh, we needed to be able to build right communication satellites that would serve Indian needs.
This was a major challenge for us at that time. I think sorrow by if he had continued to be alive, might've made it happen. But when took over, things were not that good. Now I have actually seen a letter, right. I mean, during my time on this, so I've actually seen that. From the secretary ministry of communications.
I don't know whether it was to become Sarabhai or to Pasa down. I don't remember very clearly who it was, but that letter very clearly stated that the ministry of communications and the department of communications did not see any merit in launching a communication satellite for India. In other words, there was no user interest in, in [00:31:00] communication satellites.
So Prosser Darwin had a major. Uh, how do we go about trying to resolve that problem? I think this is where I think perhaps the dominance mastery of strategy and an understanding of politics is kind of important. I would thought I would therefore talk about it. So he had to get a base of users to agree because insight required money and it also required support.
And he could not go to the government without guaranteeing the user ministry that actually did not say it should not be required. Okay. I mean, they actually, at least should say be neutral or it also supported ideally he wanted them to support it. So what, so we were going through this debate of how do we do that?
Okay. And how do we garner support? So one of the things that we came up with was that we would do a lot of experiments. So the one came up with this, uh, experiments, communication, satellite experiments, where we got hold of a European space agencies, symphony satellite, and they gave us a satellite on. And we demonstrated a lot of [00:32:00] ground-based communications experiments with symphony that was a kind of intermediate application kind of focus.
Then we had this opportunity to launch apple, right? There was a development flight of the Aryan and European space agency wanted some, you know, some country, uh, to take the risk. It might fail to take the risk and put a satellite. And if the, so, I mean, they would give us, give us the launch free of cost.
We didn't have to pay for it in those days. We didn't have the money to pay for it maybe. And, uh, and, uh, so this opportunity was available and this little saw that opportunity and possibly. In a sense, saw that opportunity. And we decided that we would bid for that. And the apple satellite came directly out of that opportunity space and we pushed it in a two year development.
We actually made it work. I'll talk a little bit about apple a little bit later about one of the things that happened, but that, that was awesome. So we had this nucleus of sorts being created in parallel, and therefore we needed a way in which insight could be progressed because after [00:33:00] apple, we had to go to insect.
Clearly that was what was needed. So process, and then came up with this fantastic possibility that apart from the communication requirement, we could also add what is called a very high resolution radio meter, which actually takes. Off the weather patterns in the country. And you know, that site clones are major problems for India.
And one cyclone can create so much damage. And if you can at least prevent a one against the site, one, you can actually save a lot of lives. So she already had an application possibility that if it could be combined with the communication, possibility can actually justify the cost of building an insect.
And maybe the benefits are likely to exceed the costs. Right? This was a calculus that I think, uh, uh, had made and we did a lot of work in order to kind of back it up and support it to do that. And therefore the idea of bringing in, uh, uh, uh, uh, kind of weather payload or a weather camera, [00:34:00] put it very crudely into the insect.
Was largely a political decision in order to justify the program and to make sure that the government supported the program. So this was a master political move, but it had a number of consequences, which I think I must also talk a little bit about so that you understand the totality of the moment. No, at that time in the world, there was only one satellite that I remember had a combination of a communication payload and promote and the weather payload.
And that was the 86 act light, which had been used for the site experiments. You know, it had been moved to a location over India or near India, and we used it for the satellite instruction, television experiment that Sarabhai had kind of come up with. And that happened during that time. So it was, it was to show that education.
If we reach the villages or the country through space. Okay. That was the kind of message that was done that so no other [00:35:00] satellite had ever had this combination. Okay. And it had a lot of what I call architecture. The satellite architecture will therefore get affected by this combination. So we did a lot of work and we came to the conclusion that in spite of all the complications, the satellite was doable.
So one of the requirements for the insights specification was that we would have not only a communication payload and the TV broadcast, both are what I call electronic transponder based things. And in combination, we will have an imaging instrument for the, for the weather, right? So I am the ministry of communications and do the Shannara information and broadcasting became a three major use for the insight program.
Now this had a consequence because when the satellite was designed, uh, the way VHR required instant. Cannot directly look at the sun. Okay. It has a problem. So big because infrared dictators, if they see the sun will stop functioning. Okay. [00:36:00] So they had to make sure that the satellite orientation was such that it would never look at the sun.
So if you have solar panels deployed on either side, the solar panel reflection would affect directly the imaging instrument and all that. So they had to move the panel, huge panel because insight required a lot of panel to one side. So the moment they moved it to one side, there's a question of stability of the satellite, right?
So in order to provide that stability, that to deploy very long boom, on the other side. So that was the architecture that, that came up of in SAC one year was not the boom. You know, the inside one year was bought from Ford aerospace because we could build it in time. And, you know, so they came up with this design, great design, very well conceptualized, but unfortunately the boom did.
Okay. So one of the consequences was that the boom did not apply at inside one effectively. Didn't last very long. I mean, it kind of, so there was this, you know, churn again and all that, but it's still stuck to this logic that it was a technically correct solution. And the subsequent insights, our [00:37:00] satellites actually work and many insects, two satellites, which were built in India, also followed.
And in almost all cases, I think in all cases, the deployment of the boom and all that did work very well. So this fundamental choice is no longer an issue, I think because of developments and the increased need for communications and the two payloads may not be separate. But in principle is still build the satellites and, you know, I just separate them or do them together.
Both options are available. So there's another question about how the political part of what we're talking about can actually have technological consequences and actually create an impetus to be different. And I would argue a little bit original. So once again, you can see it, that kind of thing happening and insight.
Okay. So this was the other thing that, uh, I thought I should talk to you and, uh, there's a, what else can I talk about? Okay. Let me talk a little bit about, uh, some thing to do with geopolitics. Okay. [00:38:00] Since I was directly involved in a lot of it, a couple of things stick out in my mind, which I think I must at least talk about, uh, one of the things that, uh, I remember, um, was the India signing the fog, uh, space treaties.
Now when I joined the had already part about signing. Okay. So there are four treaties on space. The mother created something called the outer space treaty, which lays the basic foundation stone. And then there is a liability convention, which says that if somebody launches a rocket and the rocket lands somewhere out of some satellite, , it can cause damage.
And how do you address the issue of damage? Okay. So that was the other treaty, then astronauts, uh, going to space at that time. Right? What happens if an astronaut lands in some other country, et cetera, and all that, what do you, you know, what kind of legal arrangement that you through [00:39:00] that, all that, and then the fourth one was what is called the registration convention, which means every satellite that does launch indoor.
You have to provide details to the international community, you know, a lot, bit, you know, pedagogy, apology, what kind of payload, where is it launched from? And there's an international numbering sequence that gives you all that number of colors. So these were the four, three days now. I think India had signed all of them, but signing in the UN parlance is not the same as ratification.
We need to accede to the treaty formally and we had never acceded. Okay. So going back to 67, we have never acceded to any of the treaties. So when I joined this role, I was working with on trying to get, uh, you know, uh, Indian ratification, because believed that since we took a lot of help from international organizations, you know, uh, Baskara on audio, but, uh, right site, we also needed to show that we are responsible, uh, citizens in the space world.
And he felt that signing, that would indicate that India is a [00:40:00] responsible space. And, uh, we put a lot of effort into it, right? I think I must have had about four or five huge files of correspondence. So we, the ministry of defense had some concerns about internal security. Our external affairs had some concerns about something else, right?
So there's a huge, uh, you know, government bureaucracy is a huge problem, right? So we, I mean, from 74, when I joined till about 78 or 79, this thing was going on and you know, every time down and went to Delhi, he would go and meet the cabinet secretary or go meet the defense secretary and try to get them to understand what was the reason.
But it got tangled in this huge mess. So bureaucratic red tape ism and all kinds of things. So nothing happened. What happened is there was this, uh, there was this, uh, American, uh, space laboratory called Skype. That's, you know, it had a problem initially, one of the panels in work and all that. So it got into a problem right from the start, but they were [00:41:00] able to operate it.
It's like a space station, not like a lab. It's more like a space station. So what happened is it kind of started deaking they lost, uh, you know, it didn't have enough proper land to control it. It started decaying and there was a likelihood that you could reenter the, but it's a huge satellite, 80 tons or something like that.
And when it disintegrates in the atmosphere, large pieces are likely to land fortunately, or unfortunately for this role, one of the areas over which it landed was the Indian ocean and India. Those are so NASA had said there's a high probability that this would land over India. Uh, and I was in Delhi with professor Darwin and we were having a meeting about, uh, were preparing, you know, having a preparation preparation meeting for this United nations conference that was scheduled for 1982.
So we've got . I don't remember. Maybe we're having a meeting in Delhi when suddenly this issue came up, you know, and the question then was taught if it lands in India, [00:42:00] does India have any legal recalls to being able to handle that problem overnight? You know what we had been working on became a high priority issue, right.
And I remember there was this joint secretary in the ministry of external affairs, a person called KP. You know, um, so we were wondering what to do and our process. I mean, we were saying, you know, we've been trying and all this stuff, so he took on himself, the responsibility, uh, to do it. So we had to do it just before, you know, Skylab really, really.
So we didn't have that much time. I don't remember the dates, but maybe you can check it out and see, but I do remember we didn't have a lot of time. Okay. And. Uh, at that time then, uh, you know, he said we will push it and all that. So he took upon himself the responsibility and he managed to, I managed to get the government paperwork done to make sure that we acceded to the treaty.
I think two days or three days before the entries. So my point is, you know, you spend a lot of time doing the obvious, but [00:43:00] it takes a crisis in order to find a league. And I think there was some weird comment they said in order not to make it appear. I mean, this was a comment in order to make it appear that we are not doing it because of the re-entry of Skylab.
We will sign to the liability convention and the astronaut convention maybe first and then after, uh, uh, after some time we will sign the other two treaties, I think finally, so we assign these to PTs just a couple of days or two or three days before the entry of Skylab and the other two treaties. We signed again together a little later, and there's the other feature that was being negotiated called the moon treaty about how the Russo's moon ought to be used for all that.
So we signed that again, uh, maybe together with the other two treaties. So this was the other thing that you kind of see, uh, happening. Uh, so the other thing on the, on the geopolitical thinking was, I must tell you a little bit about. Launch services agreement that we had with the Soviet union for IRS.
I'm [00:44:00] sorry. I do a lot on IRS because of more intimately involved with that. Uh, there are of course, many other things that one can talk about, but, uh, so we, we had this, so we had to launch a Jada's and, uh, uh, the Soviet union was an obvious candidate because in my opinion, they had done the Bhaskar launches and, uh, wanted it to be a commercial launch.
He said, we don't want this free bit. We should do a commercial launch. So we had a committee, three of us, I think Dr. was the project director for the IRS at that time, Mr. , who was our additional secretary or joint secretary? And I, we were the three members of the committee. And, uh, so professor Davon insisted, you know, we need to compare.
So we looked at , we looked at Arianne, a whole lot of other launches, and we came up with this possibility that we should look at, uh, the Soviet launch. And we came up with a justification for the Soviet launch right now. One of the issues that came up during that time was whether we should launch liability.
You know, this bit I [00:45:00] was talking about whether we should take insurance now inside had proceeded a lot of those negotiations or the Americans always insist that liability for launch, right. Should not be with them. Right. So that will limit all liabilities less than $500 million will be covered by. You need to go to an insurance company and take insurance so that if there is a liability claim, the insurance company.
NASA will be liable only, or us will be liable only because all countries, not NASA us will be liable only if it exceeds find that million, something like that they had, and we had negotiated inside. And so, you know, the standard disrupt practices, we go to Lloyd's of London and take an insurance. I think it was about a hundred thousand, $200,000 in those days.
Quite a lot of money. Okay. I mean, really we're not exactly floating in money in those space. Quite a lot of. Um, so when we were doing this, uh, you know, Mr. Station and all I'd been involved in those kinds of negotiations now, I had been only peripherally involved in that, but [00:46:00] I understood Russia and Soviet union quite well.
And I know that they are sticked interpreters of the Deagle part. So we had this internal debate about how do we do it, according to the liability convention, all it says is that we should get to get into an agreement with the launching state about liability. It doesn't say, you know, you should do insurance.
And that was a practice that NASA had followed. So I was saying that we should talk to them and ask them what happens if there's a failure, right. Rather than going and saying, we'll take insurance and do that. Right. So we had this huge debate and I'll pass it down and said, there's no harm finally in trying it.
And we should go and try that. I remember we went and explored this possibility, and I think the Russians only said I was Soviet, totally said this. They said, we will be responsible for the launch. If the launch fails, we'll give you another line. Okay. That was what they said at that time. So this was, uh, something that, uh, also was, uh, I thought, uh, kind of, uh, you know, I would say, you know, we were willing to go and try it [00:47:00] out, you know, and it's not as though here Archy and knowledge had some value, let me put it that way.
Uh, of course, Mr. was a great, uh, was a fantastic person also in his own way. So what our president said, they would finally do whatever it took. I'll talk a little bit about them later. So the point that you're really making is that this was something that, uh, I will remember because if we did save, I don't know, $200,000, not a lot of money, but it was something that, uh, I felt proud about.
Uh, the other thing about the launch was the price. Okay. We had a, so I remember we negotiated with them and session Mr. Sessions, a hard numbers. And, uh, so we did that are there. So the Soviets were very, very nice. Okay. Absolutely gentleness. They said. So we brought the price down to 7.5 cross for the, if you compare it to a target, I would have cost us about a [00:48:00] 30, 35 close audio and might've cost about 30, 35 pros.
So we were really about four times or five times cheaper than the international thing. So I think we went and met professor Darren, and I think all of us custodian and myself and Mr. Station, we all agreed that they could possibly bring down the price. Okay. For that treat negotiate harder. Also that told us that I don't want any more negotiation.
You said 7.5 growth is a. We will stick with that. I don't want any more things to be negotiated. We definitely need to make sure that we honor what the Soviets have given us. Okay. So that was his take on it. So this happened and we agreed on that price. And then finally the contract had to be signed in Moscow.
Okay. So uh, and I think that Dr. Rangan and my colleague, Roger, I didn't go to Moscow. So this is second time. So I don't know, but this is what they used to tell me. So we went to, so [00:49:00] the final thing was being signed in Moscow. At that time, the Indian ambassador to Moscow was, uh, was ambassador. Okay. And, uh, he, I thought he was, I have not met him, but he, according to all the people who were there, it's very much like a Russian.
So he said this price is too. Right. And we must reduce it even further. First. The are not very comfortable with it. I'm sure he was not. I mean, although I was not there, I would assume that he was not. And, uh, so apparently the, the minister and ambassador who went in into, uh, I don't know where the word car was drunk.
This is the story I've heard. Uh, some toasts were exchange and the price came down from 7.5 gross to 4.5, some number like that. Okay. And so that is something that, uh, we all, uh, I mean, all of the people who are insiders, we kind of used to talk about it. I don't know whether anybody still remembers it, but I thought it's something that you should [00:50:00] know.
So it was a very, what I would call again, a very informal, uh, uh, formal informal combination that made this role, what it was. Okay. Uh, so that is one thing that, uh, I thought I should talk about. What are the other things I can talk about? I can talk about some of the people I think his school was at that time gifted.
I would argue that some of the most capable people in the country, we were actually, I think an organization that had the best technical talent, right. Uh, as I said, VSOC is a fantastic technology organization. Uh, Isaac is very good space application center where a lot of things happen is also very good, uh, launch complex entry area.
Kartra staffed with a lot of, and a lot of engineers of all kinds. I talked about whether it's alum versus many of our engineers are fantastic. They are very good. Uh, but I must talk a little bit about some of the other people I talked [00:51:00] about, whether chillum talked about Sudarshan. I had this colleague Rajan, who was my boss, immediate Boston.
He kind of integrated all competence of the program. It was a scientific secretary, the second scientific secretary in the, so in my opinion, he actually created the job. He actually grew and created the job. He worked very closely with and he was a kind of linking pin amongst all the programs. Okay. He kind of, and he provided this combination of what I would call, uh, integrity, uh, and difference.
Right. And, uh, he was fantastic in his job. So he was one person I will never forget. And, uh, Sudarshan by other colleagues in Israel, they are all very important parts of one's life at that time. Yeah. So we had a very close knit, very, very capable group on the , but that was not part of this. Dr. who headed the Trivandrum center in my opinion was not only in [00:52:00] one sense, even a head of he was the St.
And he was actually the unifying force that made SLV three possible because VSOC is talented, capable, but it's also political, very political. And Dr. BP was the person whose, who was what I call it the way he lived in the way he did things kind of United and brought together these diverse, very different political entities within, uh, the heart of his trust technology capability.
And I would argue that he made SLV possible. Now this is also one of the few times I know in Indian organizations, especially government and organizations, I don't know whether to say plus a dumb one was number one. And Dr. BP was number two. I don't see that as, I think they were both equal in a sense, I would argue that Dr.
BPO is even a little bit ahead of down. His own state shirt, and nobody talks about Dr. BP. You know, that's one of the sad things that we we have. So [00:53:00] this was one of those rare locations where these two people really worked hard in tandem and made all this technology that is so created possible. And I would argue that, uh, this was one of the, I have never known the number one and number two, or the number two or one and two either way to work so well together.
I have not seen it after that. I have not seen it in any other government entity. I think it was one of those very unique things that made this robot. It is today. So that is one part. The other thing I would like to take as a talent, other talent that we're talking. was the director of the space application center.
Everybody knows him, right? It was also in my opinion, the only person whom I know who was unanimously elected by a very political body called the United nations committee on the peaceful uses of the space to become the secretary general or the second United nations conference. It was an honor to India and it simply honored the fact that represented, in my opinion, what they thought was the best in Indian science and [00:54:00] technology, right?
He was my guru at the unite, you, and he taught me and Rajan a lot of things that we all learned from him. So he is one person I will always, I remember we used to have dinner together at prostate. Paul taught me how to. Okay. So we had this kitchenette in our small, uh, room in one of the hotels, a new dog, and told me how to make the, I used to be, I still have vegetated.
So you said you got paid, it didn't have any problem so you to learn to cook. So you actually taught me how to cook. I think most of all, when I, when I've used to go together, we kind of continued. The tradition for survival is also a pretty good cook. And we used to have these debates about who's better than all of it, but it is very much there.
So he is so prosaic Paul, uh, props at all, uh, personal also in his own re you know, um, was a builder of, uh, of the SAC night center. There's no doubt about that. And then Mr. , I must say that [00:55:00] he was, uh, possibly, uh, very, very competent, extremely, uh, knowledgeable, uh, likes power, like polar and the exercise. But beneath it, a very good human being because, uh, you know, the few times we've had some personal issues and you've gone to him, although we used to argue and debate about everything and we would never agree on anything in the formal meetings.
Uh, he was absolutely a great person in terms of how it dealt with all of us. And I, you know, I think it sort of does open quite a bit. Okay. Dr. Calum, I don't have to talk about, uh, he saw SLB three and he, I mean, SLV three was possibly the most complicated project India had undertaken at that time. And a lot of it was possible because of the Brahm Prakash, Abdul Cullen, Satish, Tom.
And I would say it's a distant third, but important. They were the people who actually made it happen. So that is something that you talk about. [00:56:00] I would also like to talk about Dr. Guevara group that pioneered a lot of the proper lens and you know, all the stuff that they made out, ammonium poker, it, all the materials that we needed for that were better done by them.
I talked about where the Tulum and, and his contribution Dr. or the project director by artist, very close friend and not a great person who all of them, you know, became successful in different parts of the space program. So I would argue that one of the things that you remember, all these bonds of, uh, experience friendship, and, uh, all that, which kind of even now, you know, kind of keep us, even though we are all in the declining part of our life, kind of keeps us going.
So that was, I would argue that this was, you know, the period I spent is like this Shangri-La place, right. Yeah, I think you suspend disbelief. You believe that anything can be done. And I [00:57:00] mean, the demonstration of a lot of it was that. So you had what I call the process, Paul called it suspension of disbelief or something like that.
All right. So my point is that was the assault of that time. Right. And, uh, I have another couple of things to talk about, but I thought I will reserve them. I don't know time. Okay. Um, so maybe I'll talk a little bit about two other things that, uh, I think you need to do, uh, this is, this is the time this has to do with two things.
One is what I call the cryogenically. Right. And what happened in the clouds thing and the other down the other one is about my colleague number nine. And what happened to him? Right? Uh, these are not necessarily, uh, the, I mean, these are not necessarily the great stories that one once a year, but it also represents the kind of things that have changed over the time that I was there now.
Well, one of the [00:58:00] things that, uh, that was a major trigger for his role is how do we get to DSL? Right? If you look at the configuration of a GSLB, it depends upon the mass of the communication satellite that y'all put in onward. Now this is like a dynamic target. You know, when you look at the progress of the communication satellites, every generational satellite requires more and more.
Okay, so you failed to design a launcher to put that satellite in orbit. We've got to anticipate what the weight is going to be in the future, and you have to design for that. They also have to be realistic in your timing because as launch vehicle gets delayed, you may not have an adequate capacity to be able to put a payload that is meaningful.
Well, this was a real problem in the baby. Had to look at inside when Pasa Davon had to kind of decided to quit a slow and resign. I mean, take Richter retirement from Israel. He had come up with the idea that we would use the modules of PSLV, which had already developed and put on top of it, a single cryogenic stage, which he believed to be developed in the [00:59:00] country and which would give us the required payload to put into geostationary orbit.
And that was the configuration. He believed that Israel was not capable of doing parallel things, that one focused project and one approach to doing it would be the right way to go. So this was more ti kind of. Uh, uh, when a prostate Dublin left his throat wanted to take another look at all the, so we went to another series of studies and we finally came up with the possibility that there were other ways of doing it.
So one way, which many people suggested at that time was we buy the cryogenic stage. Okay. And so that way we would save a lot of development time because Claire's any technology is difficult. It takes time and it's hard. It's not easy to do that. So the view was that we would explore the possibility that we could go and buy it.
So we spent a lot of time. Uh, so we went to, uh, the U S they have a [01:00:00] stage center state, which could do the job. We went to Japan, they have another stage which could go the job. I think we went to the French and the Aryan and they could do the job. So we spent a couple of years trying to figure out whether these things were going to come up with.
I think the Americans said, we'll take a look, but finally said, no, the Japanese said no, a big, no, I think the French said, we will give it to you, but the price was $2 billion and all kinds of restrictions. So we couldn't afford it at that time. That was no. So we had to go back and do an indigenous development.
So all this happened and we went and actually create clear the project with an indigenous girl. And the government had actually approved the project. Now, when this was happening, the Russians at that time, the Soviet union had collapsed on the woods, have collapsed. The Russians came up with this offer, right.
Of saying that we will, uh, give you a cryogenic stage, okay. Which you can use for. And they made us a very good offers, 200 curls or some number [01:01:00] like that. They will give you the stage that we could put on the modules of PSLV in our own way and be able to launch it right. So this was the, it was a very good offer and the Russian technology was pretty good.
No question about all that. The only question that was a major issue was what would happen in terms of geopolitics. Okay. Oh, you must remember. There is something called the missile technology control regime, right? So the American view was that any, any, uh, rocket stage that could put a certain amount of mass into a certain kind of.
Into a certain kind of orbit would, would be very important. Okay. So they had put a kind of limit and the cryogenic stage that we were buying clearly came under that. Now, one of the things that went on in the, in debate and I was actually involved in, it was, I said, we should have a contingency option. We should have an [01:02:00] indigenous alternative, even if you decide to do that.
And the consensus was that it was not what, what they wanted. So there was a lot of debate and we finally went and signed it or shouldn't be okay. And one of the reasons why I left console was also because at that time I had to get out of all this because you know, this, all this happened, oh, I had actually made a prediction saying that, uh, this is going to backward.
Because the Americans and the Russians had a huge space at engagement going, which was what, a couple of billion dollars, including all kinds of stuff that the Americans were just buying out of the erstwhile Soviet union. Okay. So I think precisely about a year later, the Soviet, I mean, the Russians went back on the deal and then we had to go through this complicated loop of doing not only the Russian engine and the stage.
We also had to reverse engineer it, Indian engine, and then we had to develop a new stage. So in a sense, you can argue that all the delays in the realization of the [01:03:00] GSLB are to do with this kind of thing. I don't want to go too much into the detail, a lot of geopolitics and war, but it's, again, an example of how geopolitics can actually directly affect many, many things.
So this is one part. The last thing I'd like to talk about is what happened to my colleague. okay. No, and this is again, an example. This is after had left. Now my colleague numby was accused of being a spy. Right. And he was, uh, put in, uh, it was taken into custody and beaten up. And, uh, and then finally the CBI was ordered to inquire the CBI, found them, uh, uh, you know, not only it didn't find them guilty, but they said there's absolutely no evidence behind the chart.
And he was released, okay. Then the government, uh, the Carola government decided that they would pursue the case further. Right. And, uh, so they actually, uh, started, uh, you know, so the whole process could have repeated. And, uh, so [01:04:00] this was the problem. I had gone to see him. I had gone to a store to see pro and I happened to meet okay.
At that time. And, uh, he, uh, so I spent a couple of hours or maybe the whole day with them. I felt that it was something terrible and he was actually innocent and that we needed to do something about it. Obviously I have no, uh, you know what I call representative, I, I'm not an icon. Do I have the, what I call the political, uh, recognition that, you know, these things can actually.
So I mean, like I, like I did with everything, I went and met Pasa, Darren and I spoke to him about it. And he said, Chandra, are you sure about everything in his standard style? So I said, so I told him, sir, I think what is happening is correct. He said, that's not enough. I want to see everything. So why don't you put together a, go see it for me?
And so I ended up a couple of others who were very convinced about what had happened. We actually put a lot of [01:05:00] effort, looked at all the data, looked at the CBI report, looked at the investigation, looked at all the paper clippings and what was being talked about. And we provided a dossier. And I mean to convince about all, this is kind of difficult, but I mean, I must take the fact that he saw that there was a, a very human related element that had to be talked about.
So after all that, he was finally convinced and then he said, we will do one thing you said. So he said, we will put out an open letter, right. Looking at all the evidence, putting everything together and then trying to, uh, say something about it. And he said, but before we go that and go public, he said, let me talk to somebody who you used to know.
Um, this chief justice of the court in Carola. I don't forget. I don't remember his name, but he was a personal friend of his, a Cushner yet, just as Krishna yet. He said, [01:06:00] I will send the papers. And let him take a look at it and we'll see, because he felt that maybe talking to the government in catalog, talking to the government in daily, maybe, you know, can be made to disappear and all that.
So I dunno what you had in mind. So we did send that out to them, but we didn't hear anything. So I think finally after another couple of months, we decided that we would go public. And, uh, so we actually got, uh, because of professor Darwin taking the initiative, we got all the major people who are involved in Israel to sign on that petition.
Okay. Process Paul signed, uh, proposal, all signed is the association signed. Um, and then a person not Simone was a member of the space commission and also very closely associated with process dominant sign. And I aside, because Pasa down said, since you did all this paperwork, you should also sign. So we actually signed that petition and we put it in.
Into the, and meanwhile, the Supreme court had heard it and it became what is called sub dish. [01:07:00] So I think pros, not some, I went and consulted justice. I'm going to tell ya. And I think he said we should not do it and all that. So I think we again had this debate and then finally close it down and said, it doesn't matter.
We, I think we have to do it. And we finally went and did it, I don't know whether it had any impact or not, but according to numby who was directly involved in it, uh, the Supreme court finally, uh, you know, came out in this. It was a water damages and then you pursued it for a long time and now more or less everything is settled.
I think there's a film now being made upon it. I don't know how much the film will actually reflect all this reality. Well, it was quite a messy affair and, you know, it represents this very unique combination of politics and, uh, internal, uh, differences and, uh, all kinds of polar. It's like, you know, this alignment of planets that people talk in astrology, which I don't believe it seems to be a real life example where all these, you know, happened and this guy, poor guy had to face the consequences.
So that's the other thing that I thought I should, uh, kind of [01:08:00] share with you. Right. See, when I joined the SLO, I had two ambitions. Um, one was, uh, I didn't believe I was going to live in India. Okay. I've been very clear. I had two ambitions. I actually majored in finance, economics and marketing in IMC. I'd kind of lost this belief in technology.
You know, I was studied in a fancy place, all that. I didn't get a job. Okay. So I said, what the hell? Why should I go? And so one thing in, in businesses that you figured out, you know, what is important and money is obviously important. And economics and finance sounded to me and marketing sounded to me to be a great job opportunity.
So I actually had this interview with the Tata administrative service. Okay. I mean, I don't know how they called me, but they called me and that interview, I didn't do. I mean, I didn't make it to the final round though. So, so I was thinking of a Tata job or a job in a bank or something like that. And you know, the ambitions of management guys [01:09:00] are all, you know, very money minded.
I was no different. I, I don't think. Fundamentally different. And then the snow came to campus and they made me an offer. Now, the reason I decided to take it seriously was my younger sister was instead of science doing a doctorate, my eldest sister had just gotten married and was moving to Bangalore. And my mother historically grew up in Bangalore.
Then she's a banker. So I said, I should, I should therefore look at it. And I came to slow. My, my priorities were very clear. I said, I'm going to spend maximum two years. I want to learn a little bit and I'm going to join, uh, you know, do a lot of work on economics and join the world bank. So this was, these were my pool main goals at that time.
So when I joined this role, maybe the first few months I was not. Particularly doing anything great. I mean, it was like, you know, a kind of initial experience of feeling it out and all that. So my first job was to manage this whole budget since I come with a management background and all that. So we pioneered something that professor diamond pioneer does something called program [01:10:00] planning and budgeting.
It's the first time in the country that we actually do what is called link money to programs. And this one has this masterly transformation. The, I don't know whether they still have it, where you take the program related elements, which make sense from a technology, a government, uh, accounting, which is horrible.
Okay. So you have to be able to convert from one farm to the other. And we kind of pioneered a lot of it. So we started this program planning group and the systems programming analysis group. So my first job was to control this roll budget, which I think when I first joined, it was 15 close or something like that.
And I was responsible for managing. We used to look at every thousand rupees, 10,000 rupees and all that because we were broke. And, uh, I, it was also very powerful job because, you know, everybody who mattered in Israel had to come to you because you were in charge of the money. I remember Dr. Calum used to come.
Right. I mean, so you actually had this fairly powerful position, even though in the hierarchy was possibly the lowest down in the, in the hierarchy. Right. So that [01:11:00] was how it was so, so what happened is I suddenly became particularly fascinated by the possibilities of space. And initially I was looking largely at, uh, you know, the, the vacuum.
And so at that time was remote sensing because Rajan and I were the only two people looking at it. And so I decided that I would kind of learn a little bit about, uh, looking at, uh, so I, you know, we did a number of aerial surveys. I was involved in a lot of that and all I got involved and Bhaskar, I got involved and, and I S I did a lot of this paperwork and I got hooked.
Okay. Um, and the problem was that when saw this contradiction in me, it was not true that I was going to. So he and Roger and my boss actually in 19, I don't remember the date, but I think early on this decided that I would be sent out of the country. I mean, they wanted me to get exposed to the world. So they sent me on a, kind of a visit to California.
Okay. There was this, [01:12:00] uh, uh, remote sensing workshop that NASA was holding. And I was nominated to go in that, in that workshop and the wing commander, who was the head of an artist at that time was my, was also there at that workshop with me. So I got know him also very well and as a great Indian, nobody talk very much about, so I worked there, I did, uh, I went there and, uh, you know, he, they also made me visit.
I had a six week visit. Okay. I went to all the scientific establishments and the NASA centers in the whole of Canada. So from San Diego, which is on the Southern thing all the way up to, uh, San Francisco and all that. And, you know, I had a number of classmates from my eight. You were working in Stanford, for example, at a classmate in Stanford.
They were all working on integrated circuits for IBM, for Intel and all those companies that had started at that time. And I came back very excited, you know, saying there's a lot of possible. So that trip made me realize that the kind of job that I was doing in this role was [01:13:00] far more interesting in terms of challenges that what one would be able to do in the U S so in a sense, it kind of transformed me from this outward looking, you know, foreign guy.
I think it's a mistake, frankly, if I look at it, but it happened. Okay. And I think it had largely to do with this whole culture and professor Darwin and this personal kind of impact that he had on all of us, not only me on all of us who doesn't want to meet. So this is, this is the point that, uh, so I kind of changed.
Okay. And, uh, and I think it's slow. So I remember sent me to the UN to represent India when I was 26. So I was here. I was speaking on behalf of the country on all kinds of matters of policy. Of course you go through this process of consultation. So you, I, at one stage in India, I was the possibly the only guy on this, on the legal regime of space.
I, I used to know more than anybody else at that. And we all negotiated much of these treaties. So all of us still are in a sense, I, I'm still very comfortable with all the [01:14:00] space laws, treaties, et cetera, even though I haven't done much in these areas. No, but it is there. So you had all these kinds of things that happened.
So that was something that, uh, and you know, I have always, uh, even now I think space is something that is really kind of, uh, uh, I'm in love with. I also hated at times when it, you know, when you don't get what you think you should get, but I kind of love it. And it's something that I, uh, I dunno when I look at these pictures from Jupiter that NASA sent and all that, I mean, it's awesome.
What is. Right. Not only all the, you know, economic stuff and all that, but look at it in terms of knowledge, look at it in terms of doing a lot of other things and going about the world and, you know, knowing all that. So I kind of, uh, you know, spent a lot of wasted, a lot of my life on, on doing this smart.
So I know a lot about it, but my point is, I don't think it matters very much what, you know, [01:15:00] but the final analysis. So, uh, I moved to, I am right from Israel. I think I am was very good to me. I was, uh, I, I did a lot of work on technology, which I had not done in this school, but a lot of that is school experience and the way to look at the world in the way to understand the world.
Uh, and if you teach the theory gets grounded in practice or my understanding of how we throw work and how is throw can be made to work and the organizational part. Which are all there. And it's a, it's a very much, shall we say, fulfilling kind of thing. So I have a number of cases I've written a lot on, um, I have cases on, on space.
I have some cases on the Columbia accident and how NASA does always four does. So all the stuff that can connect technology with business, crisis management, leadership, those softer parts are quite that. So for me, it's been a very, you know, [01:16:00] this slow experience and what I learned there, I've been a building block of everything that I've done.
And as I said, it's the Shangri-La of one's life. Okay. I don't know whether I can ever get back to it. No other organization for that period gave it gives you that satisfaction. And I, I would say that this and my colleagues, all of them who are so generous with what they knew and gave it was, as I said, BPS.
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