Trailer Of ‘Rocketry’ Based On Former ISRO Scientist Nambi Narayanan Released

Trailer of ‘Rocketry‘ based on former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan recently released. Let’s find out the intriguing story behind his journey at ISRO.

Crux of the Matter

On 1 April, the trailer of Rocketry: The Nambi Effect was released. It is based on former ISRO scientist Nambi Narayanan, who will be played by actor R Madhavan in the movie. Nambi Narayanan is former head of ISRO’s cryogenics division, which is vital for rocket launches (especially with heavier satellites).

In 1992, India and Russia had signed a deal for India to get cryogenic engines and ‘transfer of technology’. However, amidst US objections, the ‘transfer of technology’ was cancelled. As India sped up its work on cryogenics then, Narayanan was arrested in 1994 on accusation of selling tech documents to Pakistan.

He was beaten and tortured in jail, where he was kept for 50 days. However, the case was taken by CBI which declared him ‘not guilty’. SC later claimed the same and dismissed the case.

He was granted ₹50 lakh by SC in 2018, claiming that he was “harassed” by Kerala Police. A committee was also set up to investigate the ‘fabrication of case’.

Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

After looking at ISRO scientist Tapan Misra’s revelation on Facebook and thwarting of Indian tech programmes, let us take a look at the ‘mysterious’ deaths of notable Indian scientists as well the (lack of) response from the Indian state.

Crux of the Matter

Dr. Vikram Sarabhai

  • Commonly known as the father of the space programme of India.
  • 30 Dec 1971: Dr. Sarabhai was found dead in a hotel room at Halcyon Castle in Kovalam (Kerala).
  • Former ISRO scientist S Nambi Narayanan has claimed in his biography that Dr. Sarabhai was cremated without autopsy – his death was likely an “international conspiracy”.

Dr. Homi Bhabha

  • Homi J Bhabha, a renowned Indian nuclear physicist, died in an air crash in 1966.
  • Journalist Gregory Douglas published his interviews with Robert Crowley, a former CIA officer for 4 years in Conversations with the Crow.

Douglas claimed in his book that Crowley had told him that:

  • US had “trouble” when India started work on the atomic bomb.
  • Bhabha was “dangerous” and was “warned several times”.

We could have blown it up over Vienna but we decided the high mountains were much better for the bits and pieces to come down on. I think a possible death or two among mountain goats is much preferable than bringing down a huge plane right over a big city… India was quieter after Bhabha croaked.

Robert Crowley on blowing up Bhabha’s flight according to Conversations with the Crow


Dr. Nambi Narayanan

  • Dr. Nambi Narayanan of ISRO was leading the cryogenic rocket engine project.
  • 1994: Dr. Narayanan was arrested on charges of leaking highly confidential data to foreign agencies, and was beaten and tortured in jail.
  • Exonerated (acquitted) by CBI which took investigation from Kerala Police.
  • 1998: The Supreme Court dismissed the case.
  • 2001: The SC ordered Kerala Government to pay him compensation – ordered investigation into ‘fabrication of case’ in 2018.

Stats
Between 1995 and 2010:

  • 684 persons at ISRO and its “associate units” died as per reply to a 2010 RTI enquiry by activist Chetan Kothari. However, ISRO withheld the causes of the deaths.
  • 197 employees committed suicide and 1,733 employees died of various illnesses across all Indian “nuclear establishments and related institutes”.
  • Notably, hundreds of such cases have dismissed as ‘unexplained’ or ‘suicide’. As per a petition by Chetan Kothari, “[there is a] surprising negligence by media and Govt in regularly passing off such deaths as ‘routine”.

All we know is that at ISRO people have been dying at the rate of 45.6 per year and it does not want to tell the public how have they perished. Majority of the government agencies know the cause of their employee’s death, but the ISRO claims that it has no idea how its employees died. This is either sheer callousness on the part of the ISRO or attempt to hide facts from the public.

Chetan Kothari, RTI Activist who had filed the RTI regarding deaths of the scientists

Curiopedia
  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

Previous Cases Of Foreign Powers V/S Indian Tech Progress

Previous Cases Of Foreign Powers Vs Indian Tech Progress

With ISRO scientist Tapan Misra revealing several poisoning attempts made on his life, a larger picture of foreign powers hindering Indian tech development has emerged. Let us go back in time and know the most notable instances of such.

Crux of the Matter

Who Is Tapan Misra?
Tapan Misra is currently the Senior Advisor at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He has earlier served as the Director of the Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO.

Why Is He In The News?
On 5 Jan 2021, Misra posted an account of several poisoning attempts made on his life on Facebook. This was done in the same month he is ‘superannuating’ (retiring) i.e. in January 2021.

His post also points to several mysterious deaths of important scientists in India in the past. There have also been several instances of foreign powers hindering Indian tech progress in the past decades as well.

Read the detailed story here: ISRO Scientist Tapan Misra Reveals Assassination Attempts On Him

US Rejects GPS Aid During Kargil

  • 1999: India requested the Global Positioning System (GPS) data from the US for Kargil region as Pakistani troops occupied the region.
  • US denied the request, making India realize the need for an indigenous GPS then.
  • Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) was thus approved in 2006, which has been renamed Navigation With Indian Constellation (NavIC).
  • India now alongside US, Russia, European Union, and China to have an indigenous GPS system.

Sanctions Due To Pokhran

  • May 1998: India conducted underground nuclear tests in Pokhran in Rajasthan desert.
  • US and several other nations imposed harsh sanctions against India, denying it critical nuclear and space technology.
  • International sanctions also imposed after the first nuclear test in 1974.
  • Severe impact on India’s nuclear development as Indian atomic reactors operated drastically below their maximum capacity owing to lack of fuel.
  • India also suffered from the withdrawal of humanitarian aid by the US and other nations following it after the tests.

Interference In Cryogenic Engine Deal
In June 2017, India launched GSAT-19, a geostationary communication satellite. The launch was notable due to the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-MkIII) having an “entirely indigenouscryogenic engine. The Cryogenic stage is crucial for the ‘extra thrust’ required by the rocket especially in the case of heavy satellites.

  • 1991: ISRO and Glavkosmos (Russian space agency) signed an agreement – the latter to supply 2 cryogenic engines to the former.
  • Also included ‘transfer of technology’ so that India could develop them by itself later.
  • US had lost in the engine contract race – afterwards objected to the deal citing provisions of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Notably, neither India nor Russia were members of the MTCR.
  • Russia, suffering from then recent collapse of USSR, agreed to US pressure and cancelled the deal.
  • Russia was then allowed to sell 7 cryogenic engines to India instead of the original 2, but the transfer of technology was not allowed.
  • Slowed down India’s GSLV program with no transfer of technology.
  • ISRO started indigenous development as soon as the original deal with Russia was cancelled.
    2014: An experimental flight of the third generation (Mk-III) GSLV having indigenous cryogenic engine was successful.

Apart from these obstacles, Indian scientists have been on the radar of malicious intents to ostracize India’s tech development. Know more about it here: Mysterious Deaths Of Indian Scientists

Curiopedia
  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

ISRO Scientist Tapan Misra Reveals Assassination Attempts On Him

ISRO Scientist Tapan Misra Reveals Assassination Attempts On Him

With ISRO scientist Tapan Misra revealing several poisoning attempts made on his life, let us look at the specifics and the possible motives behind.

Crux of the Matter

Who Is Tapan Misra?
Tapan Misra is currently the Senior Advisor at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He has earlier served as the Director of the Space Application Centre (SAC) of ISRO.

Why Is He In The News?
On 5 Jan 2021, Misra posted an account of several poisoning attempts made on his life on Facebook. This was done in the same month he is ‘superannuating’ (retiring) i.e. in January 2021.

According To His Facebook Post

  • 23 May 2017: Tapan Misra was poisoned with deadly Arsenic Trioxide (As2O3).
  • Poisoned at the ISRO Headquarters in Bangalore.

Effects

  • Suffered from unusual skin shedding, neurological issues, hypoxia, skeletal pain, etc.
  • The poison was possibly mixed in his food.

Major Possible Reason According To His Post

  • Suspected espionage attack to remove important scientist like Misra.
  • Dr Misra is one of the world’s foremost experts in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) development.
  • SAR crucial for defence satellites – few countries have expertise in this tech.
  • Adjusting seniority” – attacks possible from colleagues to replace him as SAC Director.
  • Competition from the US over indigenous technology.
    It was seen in a sudden visit from an Indian American professor of a US university on 19 July 2019 who threatened to not “utter a word in future”. Notably, Misra was removed from the SAC Directorship and other roles on the same day within 2 hours of refusing the Professor’s threat.

My contribution was in developing radar imaging satellites – RISAT, considered as a very high-grade technology… [t]his radar system is 10 times costlier (than the indigenous one) if we buy it (from others). So, if we develop such a system in our own country, it’s obvious that others (who are selling it to India) will lose their business.

Tapan Misra, stating possible reasons to the Press

(Lack Of) Aid Afterwards

  • Exclusion and lack of help from then ISRO Chairman, former Heads and even colleagues.
  • Continuous death threats.
  • 2017 May incident was not the only incident – later ones included:

Further Attacks

  • 3 May 2018: “Massive explosive incident” where a lab was destroyed.
  • 12 July 2019: Poisoned with possibly Hydrogen Cyanide – 3 days prior to the scheduled launch of ‘Chandrayaan 2’ on 15 July.
  • A secret tunnel built to let poisonous snakes in his house.
  • January 2020: Defamation attempt through doctoring of CCTV footage of his room.

Most Recent Assassination Attempts

  • “Deliberate poisoning of [his] mentally challenged son with Covid 19”.
  • September 2020: Attempt to poison him with Arsenic – caused skeletal pain, skin peeling etc.

Read more why such incidents have been happening here: Previous Cases Of Foreign Powers V/S Indian Tech Progress

Curiopedia
  • Homi Bhabha was killed in an air crash near Mont Blanc on 24 January 1966. Former CIA operative Robert Crowley has claimed that the CIA was responsible for the crash. In Oct 1965 Bhabha had said that India could make a nuclear bomb in 18 months if he was given a go-ahead.
  • S. Nambi Narayanan is an Indian scientist and aerospace engineer and Padma Bhushan award, winner. As a senior official at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he was in charge of the cryogenics division. In 1994, he was falsely charged with espionage and arrested. The charges against him were dismissed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 1996, and the Supreme Court of India declared him not guilty in 1998.
  • The Tashkent Files is an Indian Hindi-language conspiracy thriller film about the death of former Indian prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri. Shastri died in Tashkent, Uzbekistan (then the Soviet Union) on 11 January 1966, one day after signing a peace treaty to end the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War.

How Does A GSLV Work?

How Does A GSLV Work?

Recent reports suggest that the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) is engaged in a collaborative venture with ISRO, for India’s Venus orbiter mission ‘Shukrayaan’. As the rocket for the launch is set to be on GSLV Mark II, let’s understand the basics of GSLV and how it is different from PSLV.

Crux of the Matter

What Is A GSLV?
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) project was started by ISRO in 1990, for launching Indian capability for geosynchronous satellites. Since its reception, it has carried out 13 launches from 2001 to 2018.

Role Of Each Component

  • Fairing: Wider than the rest of the launcher, this provides aerodynamic efficiency and shields the payload from mechanical damage during the atmospheric phase of flight.
  • Third Stage: The cryogenic upper stage of imparts a high velocity to the payload and detaches at the periapsis.
  • Second Stage: The high thrust, liquid propellant has a high chamber pressure, which is activated 156 seconds into flight.
  • First Stage: It is ignited 4 seconds after the ignition of the 4 liquid strap-on motors, which help extract maximum thrust.

What About GSLV Mk III?
Also called the Launch Vehicle Mark 3, it has a higher payload capacity than the similarly named GSLV Mk II. It has launched India’s space capsule recovery experiment module: CARE, second lunar mission, Chandrayaan-2. It will now be used to carry Gaganyaan, the first crewed mission under Indian Human Spaceflight Programme in December 2021.

Curiopedia
  • Shukrayaan-1 is a proposed orbiter to Venus by the (ISRO) to study the surface and atmosphere of Venus. It is expected to be launched in December 2024 with a backup date in 2026.
  • Vyommitra is a female-looking spacefaring humanoid robot being developed by the ISRO to function on-board the Gaganyaan. It will accompany Indian astronauts in space missions and will also be a part of uncrewed experimental Gaganyaan missions prior to the crewed spaceflight missions.
  • ISRO has developed a desi version of Google Earth called Bhuvan which allows users to explore a 2D/3D representation of the surface of the Earth.
  • Assuming that the average distance between Moon and Mars is 225 million kilometres, the cost of India’s Mangalyaan mission was around ₹20/per km while that of Nasa’s Mavern Mass was around ₹180/per km.