Kerala

ISRO units resume work in capital

It could be months before space missions achieve normalcy

The easing of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions has enabled critical units of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) here to resume work after nearly two months, albeit on a limited scale. But it could be several more months before space-related activities return to normal, officials say.

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) and the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU) had asked the staff, except personnel required for essential services, to stay home from March 23.

Strict measures

Now, adhering to the guidelines issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), the units have opened up the campuses to more of their staff, but the emphasis on disease containment measures remain stringent. All staff holding rank equivalent to deputy secretary and above have begun reporting for duty on a daily basis. As much as 33% of the remaining officers/staff have been directed to attend work.

Safety measures are strictly followed on the campuses. “Internal meetings are restricted to a few people. The duration of the lunch break has been increased to avoid crowding. Employees are encouraged to bring packed lunches so as to keep support staff to a minimum,” an LPSC official says.

However, it could be months before the space missions achieve any semblance of normalcy, a senior official at the VSSC says.

Missions affected

The lockdown has forced the ISRO to put off two missions of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and one of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The lockdown has also affected future programmes including Gaganyaan, ISRO’s ambitious human space flight mission.

“At the moment, much of the work is confined to internal activities on the campuses such as fabrication, R&D and mission studies. Major activities such as space missions continue to be hit due to the restrictions on inter-district and interstate travel and disruption of the supply chain,” a VSSC official says.

During the lockdown the space facilities here have not remained idle. They had redirected their resources to combat COVID-19, which included the development of different ventilator models.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:15:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/isro-units-resume-work-in-capital/article31593767.ece

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