Sunday, January 4, 2015

First rocket launching station

Guess how were rocket components transported to India’s First Rocket Launching Station (Thumba Equatorial Launching Station) about 52 years ago for the lift-off? It was transported on a bicycle! 21st November 1963, A beautiful day with clear skies. History is about to be created at the small coastal village of Thumba in Thiruvananthapuram. A bicycle carrying a cone-shaped device trundles onto the sandy beach. A small team of budding scientists soon gets down to business. Among  them a frail young man with long hair. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. The newly built rocket launching pad was set on the beach, a clearing in the midst of coconut groves. A local Catholic church, the St Mary Magadelene’s Church served as the main office for the scientists. The small place of worship became the mainstay for the team of rocket scientists.
The first sounding rocket, Nike Apache, was launched successfully that day. Scientists traveled daily from Thiruvananthapuram in buses, carrying lunch bought at the railway station. Many rocket parts were carried by the scientists on bicycles from one place to another within the sprawling range of Thumba.
Also in 1980s for antenna-range test satellites were brought in wooden bullock cart to protect its highly magnetic sensitive instruments, so no Iron structure or metal vehicle could carry it. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Indeed Incredible India!

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