Free Press Journal

Indore: ‘Still miss poha-jalebi and Rajwada’

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Indore: Residents have helped Indore carve out a niche for itself on the world map. Children of Indore have travelled to different parts of the world proving their mettle. One of them is retired lead principal scientist Lead Principal Scientist of Alliant Techsystems Inc aka ATK, Pramod Nayate.

He has spent last 20 years in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) working on rocket technologies for various space missions. This 70-year-old rocket scientist grew up in streets of South Tukoganj and studied mechanical engineering in Sri Govindram Seksaria Institute of Technology (SGSITS).

During his recent visit, he relived old days and shared his journey from Indore to NASA with Free Press. Though he described his journey as “luck by chance”, it was his sheer hard work and upbringing that moved him saw him rise in hierarchy from an entry level engineer to a key player in NASA’s crucial missions.


“I was born in a middle class family in Indore and had never thought of going to USA, especially in NASA. During my studies, I only read about works done by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO),” Nayate said. “I live in USA but my heart is in Indore,” he said and adds, “I miss poha-jalebi and Rajawada.”

Taking about his professional journey, Nayate said that after completing engineering, he worked with Kirloskar pumps in Dewas and tried his hands at fashion designing.

“One day, my friend asked me to go to USA. We both tried for bank loan. Luckily I was selected by a university there as well. After completing post graduation, I got married and joined ATK. I loved to work there owing to challenges in accomplishing the missions,” he said.

Talking about differences in technology and development in NASA and ISRO, the rocket engineer said, “What ISRO has achieved in last few years is fantastic and cannot be achieved by many nations as yet. We have now among a handful of nations using space technology commercially as well.” Despite fund crunch, ISRO’s achievements especially after Mangalyaan have India the fourth nation to reach Mars.

“The major difference in NASA and ISRO is that NASA is an independent body which takes its own decision while ISRO has to face political influence. However, whatever is been done in ISRO is not a result of today or tomorrow’s work but the energy and life devoted by scientists like APJ Abdul Kalam for last many years,” he added. Nayate tried to return to Indore many times but didn’t get success due to responsibilities towards family.

One rocket can be used 19 times

People have seen rockets falling from the sky at the time of launch of space shuttle but these rockets fall in sea, as directed, and are reused at least 19 times. “Missions may be different but rockets used for launching them remain the same for as many as 19 times. Rockets give the speed 3,000 miles per hour and generate thrust of 7,000 pounds in two minutes which sends the rocket to a height of 35 miles,” Nayate said.

Interestingly, the cost of launching a space shuttle is many times higher than making it. For example, if a shuttle is prepared with the cost of 100 million dollars than it will be launched with at least Rs 300 million dollars. ‘What India has achieved in last few years is not even dreamt by many nations’