GSLV-F14 launch successful

GSLV is the GSLV Mk-II

The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is a GSLV Mk-II. This means that the Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) had an Indian cryogenic engine, and not a Russian cryogenic engine. But, ISRO reverted to calling it a GSLV.

The vehicle had a history of being called a Naughty Boy because of the number of times it fell into the Bay of Bengal instead of to the orbit when flying with the Russian cryogenic engine. With the Indian cryogenic engine, it has been better behaved. With today’s success, it has 8 success and only 2 failures. But, those two failures have been random. The last failure had been two launches before this one.

But, I still love this Naughty Boy.

Launch

This launch was a daytime launch allowing maximum naked eye watching time. I absolutely loved the webcast.

INSAT-3DS

The payload that the GSLV was carrying was the INSAT-3DS. It is a data relay transponder, Advanced Aided Search & Rescue, a six channel imager, and a 19 channel sounder. These are basically a meterological and Search and Rescue mission.

This is a follow on to the INSAT-3DR satellite launched in 2016. This satellite had a 10 year mission span. 3DS was launched while the 3DR is in its eighth year of operation. Kudos to ISRO to launch a replacement well before the expiry of the 3DR.

The naming of this satellite doesn’t make sense. The 3DR stood for INSAT-3D Repeat. So, 3DS stands for Second Repeat? The INSAT-3D launched in 2013 has lost the Sounder since 2020.

February 17, 2024

Inner Mess, Outer Mess

It’s been a really long time since I wrote consistently anywhere - in my analog bullet journal, in my newsletter, at work,or on social media. At work, I have been involved in a transitioning process that does not involve a lot of writing.

This has been compounding a mess” at a very high rate. In days, not in months. This inner mess has led to an outer mess. It is in observing this outer mess that I realised that there was an inner mess as well. Once I realised this, the rate of compounding of both the inner and outer mess has increased. Writing here is the only way to stop this process that feeds off each other.

I think the blog posts that I have posted here so far are a good representative of the outer mess. I have written four posts so far. The first one is an introduction. The second one is incoherent because I did not put the effort into the post that it needs. The third one is incomplete on the PSLV-C58 mission. The fourth one is a policy piece where I’m trying to argue for a status quo. I’m not sure that’s how these blog posts sounded like. This stems from an inner mess of thoughts not really ordered enough so that I can write something coherently.

January 16, 2024

Delhi is not far

India setup the headquarters for its space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in Bengaluru to stay far away from political influence or interference. Or so, the legend goes. But it’s success has got it Delhi’s attention.

The political interference began with Delhi giving ISRO a target of 2022 for flying an Indian into low earth orbit in an Indian vehicle. The opening up of the space sector and the creation of various institutions to regulate the sector have still not stabilized. The lack of a space act is a big part of this lack of stability.

In a recent podcast episode of The Seen and the Unseen, K P Krishnan suggests that the government is shaking up institutions that it sees as being captured by elites. I wonder if it is doing the same to ISRO and the space sector. If so, this is a welcome move.I think the engineering and the science focus of the space sector may save it more than anything else.

The government is the only institution that can invest in space and wait patiently (as it has for the past seventy years) as it develops. Even with the opening up of the space sector, the sector will need continued patronage of the government to grow. The private sector can, at best, make more efficient use of the capital that the government deploys for developing new technologies and applies it in various fields.

January 2, 2024

PSLV-C58 and POEM

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) flew for its sixtieth flight to carry a special X-ray astronomy satellite, XPoSat to orbit. The vehicle reused the fourth stage to move to a different orbit to test experimental payloads.

XPoSat

I have not understood the X-ray polarimetry science despite reading several articles on it that XPoSat will conduct.

So, this is a stand-in post.

January 2, 2024

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I had a copy of the book, Zen and the Motorcycle Maintenance in my third year of engineering college. I picked it up probably because I was fascinated with Zen (still am) and Motorcycles (still am).

It had not stuck me when I became a technical writer in 2019 that the author of the book, Robert Pirsig had also been a technical writer at the time. I discovered this fact when Tom Johnson interviewed Dan Grabski about a talk that he gave at the Write the Docs conference.

Tom Johnson then read the book and began doing experiments around some of the ideas from the book.

In a blog post in the series, Johnson wrote:

During the sixties, with the countercultural movement associated with hippies, there was a strong distrust that technology had introduced destructive and controlling capabilities, with dehumanizing war machines (in the context of Vietnam) and government surveillance, leading to manipulation and mass control. There was a Luddite sentiment toward technology. The post-countercultural movement sought to reconcile that attitude about technology with something more positive, embracing the more creative, connective, and liberating aspects of technology.

I think we are at a similar point again in history.

Looking at my writings from 2007 and 2013 (when I had picked up the book again, close to it’s fortieth anniversary), my takeaways from the book were more philosophical. But, these were not things that I could apply to my life practically.

Reading the works of Ryan Holiday, helps me understand the usefulness to look at how philosophy could help in our daily life. We also had a workshop on the practice of mindfulness and meditation that I think will help me do this. I may pick up this book again as my first read of 2024.

December 4, 2023

Introduction

I am Pradeep Mohandas. I live in Pune with my wife and two children. I work as a technical writer. I like writing, reading, space engineering, policy, geography, technology (in that order) as on December, 2023.

I have been writing a blog since 2006. Most of my writing in my previous blogs have been around space.

I first saw and was fascinated by Blot when I saw Nitin Pai’s website. I wanted to have one too. The wait has been a long one but I think it was worth the wait.

December 2, 2023