Students of VIT are a great asset to the nation – Mr. S. Mohana Kumar, Mission Director - Chandrayaan-3
During the side-lines of a special lecture, organised as part of Amrit Vimarsh Vikasit Bharath 2047 at VIT Vellore, Mr. S. Mohana Kumar, Mission Director of Chandrayaan-3, ISRO had a detailed discussion with S. Sudarshan on various facets of Science & Technology.
Brief Excerpts from the interview:
1. What got you interested in Space Exploration?
I am from Thiruvananthapuram. When I was a School boy, our teachers used to take us to the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station, Thiruvananthapuram every Wednesday where Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) was being operated and that is the beginning of my fascination towards rockets.
Right from my school days, I was interested in Physics & Maths; I joined B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from College of Engineering (CET), Thiruvananthapuram and it is natural for someone like me who has lot of interest in rockets and space to join ISRO.
At ISRO, I started my career in Pyrotechnic devices & Space ordinance systems wherein all kind of flying will be there and that excited me further.
So, to answer your question in a nutshell, I always wanted to work for ISRO right from my school days and I planned my career accordingly.
2. The biggest learning from Chandrayaan-2?
We learnt a lot from Chandrayaan -2 especially during the landing phase.
ISRO has an excellent review/feedback mechanism especially the sensor data assessment. Based on these, we understood the problems from Chandrayaan-2 and corrected the same and implemented it in Chandrayaan-3
Let me give you an example; the gravity & terrain of the moon is different from earth; The gravity of moon is 1/6th of earth; To make the landing smoother, we created a lunar surface like laboratory at ISRO wherein the systems were dropped and tested for a smooth landing and that really helped
The data collected from Chandrayaan-2 was analysed in detail and the algorithms were rewritten accordingly in addition to 100’s of simulations.
3. What is your role as a Mission Director of Chandrayaan-3?
After the launch manifesto is released, we have to identify the project executives; the mission director leads the team and various project executives would have to be appointed like the rain safety executive, ground station executives etc;
As a mission director, I had to co-ordinate with various agencies within different centres of ISRO and make them work together for a successful launch.
4. What is the objective of Chaandrayaan-3?
We have lot of payloads inbuilt in this like the propulsion model, lander & the rover. The data that we are going to receive from these payloads are going to be precious like the temperature profiles, what kind of electron or ion density available on the lunar surface and what kind of seismic activity happening on the moon etc;
The Southern pole of the moon is unexplored by anybody; It is our own and it is up to us to explore as much as we can
5. As of today, are you happy with the progress of Chandrayaan-3?
Yes. 100% I am happy; All the sub systems are quite healthy and we are receiving lot of data. In fact you must have already seen some of the photos that we receive; All the photos that we collect are uploaded in the official ISRO website
6. This is your maiden visit to VIT Vellore? Your thoughts about the institute?
It is an excellent campus; I visited all the academic blocks and important labs; However one thing that I was very much impressed in your library.
In today’s lecture, I observed the students are very happy to be at the campus; some of the answers that I got during my interaction during today’s lecture were very impressive.
I feel the students of VIT are well equipped to handle the responsibilities and I am sure they are going to be a huge asset for the nation. In fact, I have worked with some of your alumnus at ISRO and found them to be highly knowledgeable.
7. Your message to the student community?
The one quality that every student should develop is the ability to visualise anything – be it an opportunity or problem; the visualisation skills should begin at the young age
8. From a common man’s perspective, how Chandrayaan-3 can help a common point?
I know Chandrayaan-3 has created a sensation everywhere. People who are not from the Science or technology background showed tremendous interest and that is a huge success for Science & Technology. In fact, there has been a renewed interest in Science across all the age groups.