Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan has said that COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown will delay some of India's space exploration missions. He said ISRO has been collaborating with nearly 500 industries and the lockdown has affected their functioning. "They will get back to normal operations after some time. Moreover, there is an expected budget cut as the country is facing an extraordinary economic situation. Definitely there will be some delays," he said.
Sivan stated this while answering select questions from Malayala Manorama's child readers through its 'Hai Kids' initiative.
Read the edited questions and answers.
Will COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown delay India's planned space missions?
During the present lockdown, ISRO centres worked as per government directives. We carried out essential and critical activities. But many of our major works are being done by nearly 500 industries spread across India. Lockdown has affected industries and they will get back to normal operations after some time. Our launch operations also require people travelling from all ISRO centres to Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) Sriharikota Range. This means that we will have to wait till restrictions on interstate travels are eased. Moreover, there is an expected budget cut as the country is facing an extraordinary economic situation. Definitely there will be some delays. But we all are geared to face any demand from the nation and will try to make up the schedule delays.
How is ISRO helping India to fight COVID-19?
Three ventilator designs from ISRO are being evaluated at hospitals. Some centres developed automatic hand sanitizer dispensers, while some other manufactured and distributed hand sanitizers. Staff organisations at ISRO have supplied aid to the needy with the help of local authorities.
Which upcoming project excites you the most?
The most exciting project is the Gaganyaan mission. Chandrayaan-3 (that aims to demonstrate soft landing on the Moon) and Aditya Mission (that will study the corona of the Sun and its impact on earth) are also important.
Is it possible to study the Sun without having a close look at it?
Optics technology has improved tremendously. Aditya Mission will study the Sun from a special point in Earth-Sun system called Langrangian Point L1. At a Langrangian point, the gravity-pull between Earth and Sun balance out each other. As you all know that average distance between the Earth and the Sun is approximately 150 million kilometres. The L1 point lies at a distance of 1.5 million kms from Earth.
Elon Musk has said that he wants to die in another planet. Do you think it will be a reality anytime? Do you nurture such dreams?
I agree with Elon Musk that we, as a civilisation, are on the threshold of technology required to colonise other planets. But I won't put it as "to go there to die". I would rather say that "go there to expand the footprint of human civilisation".