Eye in the sky: On ISRO’s hits and misses

ISRO must open itself to public gaze, and not shy away from sharing its successes, failures

The failure of this mission is worrying not only because it breaks a long, successful run, but because there are several important missions in the pipeline: Aditya-L1, the sun watcher, and the Gaganyaan mission, which will carry humans to space, are slated for the coming years. Thursday’s failure will increase the stress on ISRO scientists to doubly make sure the chances of success in these missions. In the meantime, the impact of this failed mission is being kept away from interested citizens for now. For some time at least, there will be no official word on what actually happened and how the mission failed, and this owes in no small measure to the propensity of ISRO to cover up and enshroud events in mystery, especially mishaps. Admittedly, the stakes are high, in terms of investment and national pride, but scientists, of all people, should wear the belief that failure is as much part of the game as success. From a culture of warding off eyes, the organisation should embrace the limelight. ISRO indeed has many stories to tell of scientific endeavour, the method and the manner of progress; and as it opens its doors to the public gaze, it can only rise to the skies.

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