Jammu: For a brother-sister twin from Jammu, the moon had always been about the stories they had heard from their grandmother: a friendly celestial body so far away that they could only imagine to reach there some day. Not anymore, they say.
Swapnil and Swapnila, both Class 10 students, this week visited the ISRO station in Andhra Pradesh and saw the massive rocket that will spark their lunar imagination into reality. There, they heard stories about the the moon again, but they would have surely missed the warmth of their grandma's storytelling.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a billion dreams into space on Monday with the lift-off of the Chandrayaan 2 lunar probe. The mission, launched onboard the heavy-lift rocket GSLV-MkIII, nicknamed Baahubali, will land a rover near the unexplored lunar southern pole.
"The launch was only in our imagination. We used to hear stories of moon from our grandmother. When we actually saw it (the rocket), we were spell-bound. It was amazing," said Swapnil. "It's a dream come true."
Swapnila said they saw the GSLV Mk-III rocket that will launch the mission into space. "It was so huge," she added. The students are among 110 children who are part of Chandrayaan-2 project. In Sriharikota, scientists explained the mission to them and they said they feel happy about it.
The mission on board the Geosynchronous Launch Vehicle Mk-III will take 54 days to reach the moon's south pole. Billed as the most complex mission ever undertaken by ISRO, Chandrayaan-2 will make India the fourth country to soft land on the lunar surface after Russia, the US and China.
"We saw the track through which the Chandrayaan-2 vehicle will be transported to the launch pad. We saw the launching control centre and the main control centre," Swapnila said. ISRO has launched a programme for schoolchildren, called the 'Yuva Vigyani Karyakram' (YUVIKA), from this year in tune with the government's 'Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan' vision.
Swapnil and Swapnila were selected after undergoing a series of test of their academic, sports and extra-curricular record. At the age of 7, both have flown the Microlite Aircraft at Hindon Air Base as co-pilots.
The government is inculcating a "scientific zest among the youth" with such programmes for students, Swapnila said. "Best scientists and technocrats will come up now in the country". Shib Narayan Acharya, a photo officer in the Ministry of Defence, and Sarmistha Acharya are proud parents and said they are happy about their children visiting the ISRO station.