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Bharat Kidambi

By S.K. Das
Year 2016, pp. 158, Rs. 195.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 11 November 2016

Dad, did you know, Kalpana Chawla was the first woman of Indian origin to go to space?’ my eight year old daughter, who is in class 3, mentioned with excitement. I was helping her with her school project on the solar system. During the course of the project, we discovered together, the truly inspiring personal journey of Kalpana Chawla from Karnal, a small town in Haryana to her joining the NASA programme in the US as an astronaut. Kalpana’s fascination for space and flying was sparked off at a very early age. On a recent trip to the US, I had the opportunity to take my daughter to the world famous Morehead Planetarium and Science Centre in North Carolina. The planetarium was used to train the astronauts for the Gemini and Apollo programme in celestial navigation. It was heartening to see so many parents bring their young children to the planetarium and exposing them to the fascinating world of astronomy. It was really inspiring to see how the instructors took their jobs seriously, and encouraged the kids present to ask any questions. All About Satellites by S.K. Das, an advisor to ISRO, logically explains the need for satellites, the various kinds of satellites and their use. It is fascinating to know that there are over a thousand artificial satellites orbiting the earth. While we worry about garbage and debris on earth and its impact on our environment, outer space too is not spared of this issue. We are informed that there are over five hundred thousand pieces of debris, or ‘space junk’ that are travelling at speeds of upto 17,500 kmph fast enough to cause severe damage to a spacecraft in the event of a collision. The author mentions an interesting fact about how things that fall out of the astronaut’s hand can also become part of space debris. In 1965, astronaut Edward White lost a glove, while performing a space walk in the vicinity of the Gemini satellite. The glove kept orbiting the earth for a month at a speed of 28000 km per hour!!! There is a very informative chapter on the Indian space research programme. Started soon after Independence, India today is one of the leading countries in space development. It is one of ten countries in the world to have independently launched a satellite into space. Today thanks to the brilliant scientists at ISRO, we are able ...

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