Despite the prevailing uncertainty over the location of Chandrayaan 2’s Vikram lander, the students living on Sriharikota, a little island in the Bay of Bengal have been inspired to become scientists and astronauts. This is because the Satish Dhawan Space Centre is just 5 km away from the spindle-shaped island. However, to realise their dream, the students travel for two hours to reach the school in that region. This also often involves the use of boats as there is no school near the homes of most people.
Sriharikota is India’s only ‘spaceport’ from where satellites are launched. While the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Centre in Thiruvananthapuram is used for launching rockets for conducting upper atmospheric experiments, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre was selected as a satellite launching station in 1969. The island has a total area of 43,360 acres and a coastline of 50 km along Andhra Pradesh. On the eve of Chandrayaan 2’s launch, many teachers had allowed students to stay home so that they could watch it. Moreover, the municipal high school in Sullurpet town arranged a live screening of the launch of India’s Second Moon Mission in their digital classroom. It ended up being a thrilling experience for students as the teachers explained the research that went into going to the Moon.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has made persistent efforts to ensure that children get to know more about space. Earlier this year, it started ‘YUVIKA’, a programme aimed at training school children in space technology, science and applications. As a part of this, three class 9 students from each state and Union Territory were chosen for a two-week residential stint at ISRO’s centres during the summer vacations. Similarly, the ISRO opened its viewing gallery in March 2019. Children above the age of 10 can view the launch of the rockets in the stadium-like area that can accommodate around 5,000 people. According to ISRO Chairman K Sivan, the objective of this initiative was to encourage youngsters to join the space sector.