The Moon can thank its stars that India failed to get past the Kiwis on Wednesday. Or else, as is the Moon’s wont, the lunar object would have had to play second fiddle. This time to the Virat star-studded and Ravi-coached Indian cricket team. Now that the 18-run defeat has meant Taare Zameen par – as in, brought stars crashing down to earth – the country can rightly focus on the real cosmic journey.
Though something tells me a large cricket-crazy segment of India would have been more happy to land on the Lord’s balcony than on the lunar surface. After all, moon gives a very ghar waali feeling. No, not just because of the Chandamama we read in our childhood or because every second man has promised the stars and the moon to his beloved, but because every monsoon, the moon does a double role in our cities. The roads look no different from the lunar craters elevating every citizen to a potential Neil Armstrong. But negotiating the craters is not a small step for any Indian, it will take a giant leap – a corruption-free and quality-focused India – to make that possible.
But I digress.
The Indian cricket fan is just about coming to terms with the fact that Sunday at Lord’s has been replaced with Sunday (spilling on to Monday) with the Lords of the outer space. Who just like in cricket, will do a reverse countdown 5,4,3,2,1 and say “Let’s play”.
But instead of fit cricketers, a fat boy will take to the field. The GSLV Mk III, referred indulgently by ISRO scientists as `Fat Boy’ is a heavy capability launcher. It has a lift off mass of 640 tonnes, equal to the weight of 200 elephants. The Fat Boy has come good in all the spatial Yo-Yo tests done so far.
Like the Indian cricket team that sought to get a fourth World Cup title in its cabinet (the 1983 triumph, the 2007 T20 Trophy and the 2011 ODI champions title), India too is aiming for a fourth hurrah in outer space. If Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma’s `Saare Jahan se Accha‘ aboard USSR’s Soyuz T-11 showed Indians could dream big, Chandrayaan 1 in 2008 and the Mars Orbiter Mission or Mangalyaan in 2013 were precious feathers in the cap that helped India to a seat on the high table.
India’s Test matches against the West Indies in August will mark the start of the Test championships. Likewise, Chandrayaan II will be a Test too. A test of technology and character for the spacecraft that will enter the lunar orbit only on 5 August, a good 22 days after take-off from Sriharikota. It will be the longest `Decision Pending’ sign on the big screen ever.
The real moment of reckoning after undertaking the 3.84 lakh km journey from India to the moon, will be on 6-7 September when the lander named `Vikram’ is expected to land on the earth’s satellite. That’s when India and its scientists can proudly ask the rest of the world “Howzatt”.