Thiruvananthapuram, Jan 5: When the countdown began in Sriharikota Sunday for the launch of the Rs.365-crore mission to flight test the cryogenic engine designed and built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), S. Nambinarayanan’s heart was beating fast and he could not speak much. After its successful launch, he said: “Now, the sky is the limit for India.”
In 1991, it was Nambinarayanan, a former ISRO scientist, who was busy working as project director for the development of cryogenic technology.
Three years later, he was arrested on the allegation that India’s space programme was sold. Along with another top ISRO official, two Maldivian women and a businessman, he was named accused and arrested on charges of espionage.
However, in 1996, the Supreme Court dismissed the case against him.
Sunday, this scientist was sitting in the studio of a leading TV channel and found it difficult to hide his emotions – removing his glasses and wiping his tears of joy – when the mission turned successful.
“I am really happy and mind you it was this technology which we all saw just now, that was told by people here, that I ‘sold’ it then (1994),” said an emotionally choked Nambinarayanan.
“… We should now have an overall plan and I am sure scientists are working on it as this cryogenic engine is the best of its kind. Incidentally, this was first developed in 1967 by Russia,” he added.
A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.
This was the first mission of GSLV during the last four years after two such rockets failed in 2010.
One of the GSLV rockets was launched with Indian cryogenic engine and the other one with a Russian engine.
The GSLV is a three stage/engine rocket. The core of first stage is fired with solid fuel and the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second is the liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
For the country, ISRO perfecting the cryogenic engine technology is crucial as it can help save precious foreign exchange by launching communication satellites on its own.
Even now, Nambinarayanan is busy in his battle seeking justice for his fair name and has already tasted success. In 2012, a division bench of the Kerala High Court upheld the order of the National Human Rights Commission directing the state government to pay a compensation of Rs.1 million to him.