ISRO Annual Report – Space Access Component

What to do between work – scientific travel writing?

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on April 6, 2011. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

For quite some time now, I have been thinking about what to do generally between work. The thought of traveling did strike me as a useful thing to do. While I have not arrived at any useful direction on what to do for work, I have come to an idea on what to do between work or to take a break from work.

The idea is an extension on my “Telescopes of India” tour, which did not really work out so well. The idea is to travel to a country which has an astronomical observatory. What I would do next is not really very clear to me now. But, I think I’ll figure things out as I learn more and more about the observatory itself. I don’t know if there’s a genre called “scientific travel writing” but it would be an interesting genre to begin writing in.

There are many people interested in visiting scientific places – like observatories and laboratories. It’ll be interesting to see how an ordinary guy is given entrance to these facilities. This will be in addition to living with a scientist and learning about the “scientific culture” of the organisation. I think that’s how I would define scientific travel writing.

This is really the first draft of this idea but it sounds like an interesting concept for me to try and explore in the future. Since, I have been following the space and astronomy community, this is where I hope to begin probing. It’s a huge experiment.

First Report on Space Tourism in India

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on April 5, 2011. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Clark Lindsey posted on his RLV and Space Transport blog yesterday about this first report on space tourism in India. The report is brought out by the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES) and McGill University. I had a cursory glance through this report and given below are my thoughts about this report.

The Report is done by a University (UPES) which you would not equate with space. It is done by the Center for Aviation Studies and released by a Secretary in the Civil Aviation Ministry. Again, not really showing involvement from anyone in the space business in India today. This makes it a tad difficult to understand their background with relation to this subject.

The Report itself is in an interesting format. It puts out the condition in the US and compares the same with the Indian situation and draws unfortunate parallels. For example, it talks about building spaceports merely by extending airports. It even talks about DGCA playing a role similar to what the FAA does in the USA.

The Report is perhaps a first that is publicly released and perhaps lays the foundation for in-depth topic specific reports on various aspects of space tourism. There have been interesting suggestions for space tourism vehicles based out of India – as an example Earth2Orbit’s Sushmita Mohanty suggested developing the Space ReEntry Experiment vehicle(SRE)  as a space tourism vehicle out of India. Such bold suggestions were not studied or considered during the course of this report. It also depended rather heavily on the US scenario and did not envisage anything from the Indian perspective which could have made it a more worthwhile report rather than trying to make it an Indian copy of a US model.

India has many interesting alternatives. Entrepreneurial companies like Team Indus and Earth2Orbit are sprouting in India which could develop and improve SREs or even totally new ventures developing rockets and crafts that could handle the technology aspect. A Space Transportation Authority could be setup coming out of the current Launch Authorisation Board from within ISRO. There is already an Indian expecting to fly in SpaceShipTwo.

All in all, I think that the report is an important first step which was not bold enough and forward thinking enough but which I hope pushes many more studies and public interest in the idea of space tourism.