ISRO is as superstitious as you and me

The Indian space agency is as superstitious as any other agency. So, ISRO refuses to start the countdown for a rocket at Rahu Kaalam, which is considered inauspicious for starting any new work.

Prior to every rocket mission, ISRO officials pray at the famed Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala and place a replica of the rocket at the God's feet seeking his blessings for a successful flight.

Over the years, some more temples near the Sriharikota rocket port have been added to the list and officials or their juniors will visit those temples and pray for a mission's success.

Similarly, pujas, or ceremonies, will be conducted before starting the integration of different stages of a rocket. "It is all individual beliefs. One cannot take chance with God and poison," a former ISRO chief told IANS.

According to a retired ISRO rocket scientist, a project director used to wear a new shirt on the day of a rocket launch. Incidentally, there is no rocket named Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C13 (PSLV-C13) in ISRO launch roster.

After sending up PSLV-C12, ISRO jumped a number to PSLV-C14 which put into orbit Oceansat-2 and six European nanosatellites. "There is no rocket designated with the number 13," a high ranking official said while declining to comment whether the space agency considered the number 13 to be unlucky.

Curiously, following the failure of Apollo-13 to land on the moon, the American space agency has not assigned any other mission that number. However, India's Mars Orbiter Mission broke away from tradition in a way by flying on a Tuesday.

"This was the first time in ISRO's history that a rocket was launched on a Tuesday. Tuesday is generally considered an inauspicious day," an ISRO official had told IANS.

However, another senior official involved in the Mars Orbiter Mission said that for him Tuesday was a lucky day as the mission succeeded.

Take-off at 2.43 pm

The 20-hour countdown for the launch of the Chandrayaan-2 mission began at 6:43 pm on Sunday. The mission will be launched at 2:43 pm on Monday from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Andhra Pradesh.

‘‘All arrangements are going well,’’ the ISRO chief said. During the countdown, the rocket and spacecraft's systems will undergo checks and fuelling. Chandrayaan-2 will perform 15 crucial manoeuvres in the days to come.

The spacecraft was originally scheduled for flight at 2:51 am on July 15. However, the launch was postponed after a technical snag was detected.

By SRIHARIKOTA

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