Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Reaching for the moon

Fairly historic day, today. India's first moon mission lifted off early in the day, from the launch site at Sriharikota, about 100 km north of Chennai. We had had some plans of driving down to watch the launch - but with the weather being what it is, it did not seem like a good idea, especially considering that we would have to watch the launch from somewhere outside the gates of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. In the early days of the Centre (it was set up in 1971), Madras was the place to go for the scientists working at 'SHAR'; these days, Sullurpet seems to provide enough entertainment for them. In any case, with several missions lined up, entertainment will probably be the last thing on their mind.

Chennai continues to be a major feeder hub for the Sriharikota Range. It will take about 3 hours to get to SHAR by road - of which a third would be spent in getting out of the Chennai traffic. The trains are faster, but they take you only as far as Sullurpet and you've got to get back on to the road after. Sriharikota is actually an island, so there is also the option of taking a boat from Pazhaverkadu (Pulicat) and getting across the Pulicat lake.

Having decided long ago that today's post / picture would be about SHAR, I had not made any alternate plans despite the rains. These clouds may not be of this morning, but they are definitely the clouds over Chennai a few days ago!

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