Bengaluru: Buzz Aldrin, the astronaut who partnered Neil Armstrong on man's first visit to the Moon, on Wednesday tweeted an image of his reimbursement form, which shows $33 in claims 46 years ago.
While Aldrin got to live his dream, two Indian scientists who worked with Isro weren't as lucky. NC Bhat and P Radhakrishnan could have had their moment in space 30 years ago had the US' Challenger mission not gone up in flames. Both of them are now away from Isro's radar.
TOI has been trying to contact them for three months, after Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar confirmed they would have been the first Indian civilians to go to space. Isro hasn't even been able to locate their photographs.
"They had completed more than two years of training but their mission was aborted. Just weeks before they were about to embark on the journey, the Challenger mission exploded and the US decided that no civilians will be taken to space," Kiran Kumar told TOI in April.
At that time, Isro didn't have the self-reliance it has today. The duo was supposed to travel in a space shuttle in 1986 that was to inject INSAT-1c - the third satellite in the series developed by the US for India's domestic communication requirement. That was two years after Rakesh Sharma's historic space odyssey. "They were supposed to travel in the shuttle and perform the operations to inject the satellite into the orbit, but the dream remained unfulfilled," an Isro spokesperson said.
NSAT-1c was to be launched by Ford Aerospace and the duo had travelled to the US for the launch.
"Before they went there for the last cycle of the training and eventual travel to space, they had already completed some rigorous training in 1984-85 in India," another scientist said.
While Bhat retired as a group director (spacecraft mechanisms), Radhakrishnan was an expert in liquid propulsion. While Indians like Rakesh Sharma, Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla have had their tryst with space, an indigenous manned mission continues to remain on the drawing board.
Isro's recent success with the Re-usable Launch Vehicle (RLV) demonstrator is seen as a step in the direction, but those in the loop, including Kiran Kumar, say they have a long way to go. The UPA-led government had sanctioned Rs 145 crore for the Human Space Mission. The objective of the programme is to carry a crew of two to Low Earth Orbit and get them back safely.
Quelle: THE TIMES OF INDIA