Four students from Municipal Middle School at Mettupalayam in Tiruppur North who witnessed the launch of Chandrayaan-2 in July this year were elated to receive a letter from ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan. The letter, which had been written in Tamil by Dr Sivan on November 4, reached the students on Saturday afternoon.
An essay competition was spearheaded by their school teacher S Saravanan, who was also instrumental in organising the trips to Sriharikota for the students to witness the rocket launch live. Four students were selected among 100 students who participated in the competition from Municipal Middle School.
The corporation school students, Santhosh, Mohammed Thahir, Manikandan and Harikrishna had written to Dr Sivan first, explaining their joy in having witnessed the launch that took place on July 22. The students were also present when the launch was aborted due to a technical snag at the last minute on July 14.
The students shared that at the moment the rocket took off, they were overjoyed with tears. Adding that they keenly looked up to Dr Sivan, the students ended the letter with the hope that someday they might be able to be a part of space missions, thanks to the efforts of Dr Sivan.
In his response, Dr Sivan updated the students on the project. “Even though the lander was not a success, the orbiter is functioning very well. The orbiter will continue to study the moon and send details for a period of seven years.” Expressing his thanks to teacher Saravanan, Dr Sivan ended his letter on a positive note. “I hope all of you study well and your space dreams and ambitions are realised,” he wrote.
Speaking to TNM, 37-year-old Saravanan who has been teaching at the school for close to 17 years says, “Space is something that cannot be seen by everyone, it lies several lakh kilometres away. Whereas, if you take medicine, the doctors work with things that they can see. It was therefore a moving experience for the students to witness the launch in person. They cried soon after the launch.”
Saravanan, who has been to such launches four times himself, adds that the school with help from a student-volunteer group will continue to inspire students in science. “Open Space Foundation is an NGO that conducted a competition for STEM Projects. Our school won this competition and so the NGO helped us launch an open science centre in the school recently. We have received a telescope and the group is planning on organising a field trip for the students,” he says.