LIFE

In search of excellence

"Our space programme is unique. India is the only country in the world, which has got total capability for building, launching and using spacecrafts for the benefit of the people."  

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director, G. Madhavan Nair, has every reason to exult. The man who heads the lead centre for launch vehicles systems development in India's space research programme is obviously happy about the country's progress in the field. And now his former colleague, Avil Pakhir Jalaluddin Abdul Kalam, is on his way to becoming the President of the country.

Mr. Nair, who was in Kochi recently, says that Dr. Kalam, with whom he worked for 20 years, will make the best President

All scientists must take pride in a technocrat being elevated to the top post, he says. "Politics or no politics, Dr. Kalam is a person who can synthesise people and technology. He has demonstrated it beyond contention,'' Mr. Nair says.

"He will perform. You can see a welcome change,'' he says, underlining that the difference between science and academics is very thin. According to him, Dr. Kalam is a fine human being who could bring out the best in any human being.

But his chat is not all about Dr. Kalam and the Presidency. He is ecstatic about the future of the country's space research programme.

``Our space programme is unique. India is the only country in the world, which has got total capability for building, launching and using spacecrafts for the benefit of the people. It is not driven by any commercial motive. We are currently among the six nations with this capability,'' he says, citing his recent experience at an interaction with top scientists from around the world at a U.N. conference in Vienna.

He expresses the confidence that the country would be able to produce in six years the GSLV-MK3 rockets that could carry much heavier satellites into space. Currently, we could take a spacecraft of two tonnes into space.

The GSLV-MK3 will have the capability to carry double the weight.

Apart from lifting heavier weights, MK-3 rockets would reduce the cost of production considerably and help lead the country to a level where rocket launches could be done commercially, he explains.

He says that the country has already made great strides in producing reusable satellite vehicles. He expresses the hope that the country could achieve that goal in less than 20 years.

Pointing out that it costs about $20,000 currently to place a kilogram of material into orbit, Mr. Nair says that with the development of reusable vehicles, the cost could be reduced greatly.

Mr. Nair is at present, guiding a team of 6,000 personnel in research and development activities related to launch vehicle for orbiting spacecraft.

Earlier he was project director for the PSLV. He was the director of Liquid Propulsion System Centre (LPSC) between 1995 and 1999.

Born and brought up in Thiruvananthapuram, Mr. Nair has chosen to remain in the there with his wife, a scientist, and their two sons.

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