Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi asked India’s space community to take up “the challenge of developing a Saarc satellite” which can be dedicated to “our neighbourhood, as a gift from India”. He suggested that the Saarc satellite could provide a full range of applications and services to all neighbours of India. He also asked the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) “to enlarge the footprint of our satellite-based navigation system to cover all of South India.” Mr. Modi, who addressed the ISRO employees from the Mission Control Centre (MCC) at Sriharikota after the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) successfully put five foreign satellites into orbit, wanted the ISRO to develop more advanced satellites with higher degree of computation, imaging and transmission. “We must expand our satellite footprint in terms of frequency and quality.” The Prime Minister praised India’s space scientists for helping the country become a self-reliant space power. India could be proud that its space programme was indigenous and the country developed it despite international hurdles. “Many misunderstand space technology to be for the elite, that it has nothing to do with the common man. I, however, believe that such technology is fundamentally connected with the common man. As a change agent, it can empower and connect, to transform his life,” the Prime Minister asserted. “Space may seem distant but is an integral part of our daily life today,” underscored Mr. Modi, who spoke alternately in English and Hindi. Satellite technology had become an invaluable asset in disaster management. Accurate advance warning and tracking of cyclone Phailin had recently saved countless lives, he noted.
PM’s interest in MOM
Mr. Modi revealed that he was following the progress of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) with interest. The MOM, which cost less than the Hollywood film “Gravity”, had recently caught the attention of the social media, he said. ISRO chairman Dr K. Radhakrishnan introduced senior ISRO engineers to the Prime Minister. At the MCC, Mr B.N. Suresh, former Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, answered queries posed by Mr. Modi.