ISRO's new satellite launched with 'Sri Balaji' insurance

Last Updated: Thu, Apr 26, 2012 15:23 hrs

A unique sign of India's step forward into the space age took place today.

It was not the launch of the RISAT-1 satellite on the PSLV - C19 launcher. That went off without a hitch at 5:47 am on Thursday.  

No, the sign was whose help ISRO scientists sought to ensure that a successful launch would happen in the first place. (Hint: It wasn't NASA.)

Displaying admirable devotion (and a slightly worrying lack of faith in their own scientific abilities) a team of scientists, led by the ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, visited Tirumala to pray for the successful launch of the satellite.

Now traditionally, devotees make an offering when they pray to Sri Venkateshwara. However, the scientists did not mention what they had promised.

Perhaps it was a fin or a gauge from the launcher.

Incidentally, the scientists did take a model with them to the temple, where special prayers and rituals were held. This is understandable. There are several hundred satellites and thousands of pieces of space junk up there already. So it was good sense to show Sri Balaji which exact satellite the blessings were being sought for.

Although a question must be asked if this divine insurance was also taken for all the launches that failed. What about the ones that exploded over the Bay of Bengal? Were those launched at an inauspicious time?

The blessings were probably sought then as well, since ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan is already quite famous for his zealous ability to ensure that his scientific career does not come in the way of his superstitions and religious obligations.

While we do not have all the answers we might want right now, we can only hope the scientists remembered to tie the lemon and chilli garland to the front of the satellite before the launch.

Because, as we all know, if you are going to launch an imaging satellite, you should make sure that your scientific efforts are not thwarted by a someone's jealous and evil eye causing some misfortune.

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