A concert with satellites for drummers

A
cardiac
murmur
in the sky
turns our
pectoral
muscles
into broken
cymbals, and
our hearts
into bamboo
shoots, whistling
in the salty air;
and our
feathered
friends, clad
in pensive
gowns, tickling
a silent lake –
with choruses
to declare.

Arun Venkataswamy, a friend of mine, is an ardent astronomy junkie. Since he spoke to me about these launches with such passion, I wanted to witness one. He is also a fantastic photographer (astronomy and otherwise) and you should check out his photography blog. I had written this on December 20, 2014.

On Thursday morning, at about 9:30 AM, India launched the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MK III (GSLV MK III) – a powerful new rocket along with a prototype landing capsule. The launch took place at the Satish Dhawan Space Center – India’s spaceport on the Sriharikota Island, near the city of Chennai.

GSLV M3 launched

GSLV M3 launched

My knowledge of space – as an entity – is abysmal. My pursuit of science too is faint unless a growing interest in the physics behind tumbling down a cliff without breaking both legs counts. What I terribly addictive is the passion that people have for it.

So, a few of us drove towards a breathtakingly-still section of Pulicat Lake, about 11 kilometers away from the launch site. There were other astronomy enthusiasts, sitting patiently. It is apparently well-known in the astronomy circle that one gets a great view of the launch from here.

They brought their cameras, binoculars and telescopes; friends and families too. There were interesting discussions on previous launches. Predictions on the future on space exploration. There was palpable excitement in the air. A few even moved their lips to a silent 10-second countdown.

Indian swiftlets

Indian swiftlets

When the GSLV MK3 finally took off, it appeared like a fire-breathing lantern, sounding like the loudest and most chest-crushing version of a Led Zeppelin drum solo. As it roared through the sky, there was a murmuring of Indian swiftlets over the Pulicat Lake. As though in a ballet, they paraded like locomotive burn marks against the pristine landscape.

There was silence for a few seconds. Everyone just stood still, soaking in the moment. Smiles soon broke out. A few joked about the skies being too foggy that morning but they all seemed warm, fuzzy and just plain happy

As they were packing up their equipment to return back to life, I felt a little spaced out. Perhaps overwhelmed. People had driven for many hours for an experience that lasted 15-20 seconds. And it was foggy morning, and the skies could have been kinder. But not one regretful expression could I see. Just passionate people doing what they wanted to do instead of worrying about what the world expects from them.

I intend to attend as many launches as I can. And not just to see a really cool visual. Well, that too. I just can’t wait to feed on the energy of these rocket-launch junkies. Birding is something that causes tiny explosions in my chest. The passion in people does wonderful stuff to my brain.

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24 comments

    1. thank you, and you should try attending one too. The other two launch sites are in Thiruvananthapuram and Orissa (just figured they changed it to Odisha which sounds like a Greek villain, making it the only Indian state with a new name that doesn’t sound stupid) 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pretty neat description of the launch. I was fortunate to witness a launch at ITR in Chandipur, Odisha, but being a Strategic Studies nerd if I had to describe it, I would have ended up with a poem about its payload sure to make the reader “space out”, unlike your engaging post.

    Liked by 1 person

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