When the tricolour was still but hearts fluttered

November 14th, 2008 - 11:07 pm ICT by IANS  

ISROBangalore, Nov 14 (IANS) Perhaps for the first time since India adopted the saffron-white-green tricolour as its flag, millions of hearts across the country fluttered but not the flag itself when it reached the lunar surface, around 384,000 km away, Friday night. The heart beat was faster at Indian Space Research Organisation ISRO’s deep space network (DSN) at Byalalu, about 40 kms from Bangalore city centre, and its telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac), much closer to the city.

It was a cavalcade of emotions at DSN and Istrac - tension, anxiety, excitement with a tinge of apprehension dominating as scientists issued the command to their ‘baby’, India’s unmanned moon spacecraft Chandrayaan-1, to detach the moon impact probe (MIP) and allow it to hurtle towards the moon at four to five km a minute and still land safely on the lunar surface after a journey of about 25 minutes covering the 100 km distance.

Sigh of relief, broad smiles, loud applause broke out as the MIP reached its destination. Handshakes and patting on the success of the complex manouevre followed.

Of course, the tricolour did not flutter on the moon’s surface. First, because there is no atmosphere on the moon, and second, because it is not a flag, but the tricolour painted on the four sides of the 375 mm x 375 mm x 470 mm MIP, the first Indian made object to land on the moon, 50 years after the Soviet Union’s Luna 2 became the first man-made object reach the lunar surface.

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