Chennai: The Indian space agency may be sending rockets and satellites to various planets but are also guided by their own superstitions and beliefs, said a retired official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). On the home front, ISRO will not start the countdown for a rocket flight at Rahu Kaalam, said the official not wanting to be quoted. Rahu Kaalam , or the one-and-a-half-hours of planet Rahu, is considered inauspicious to start any new work.
“In the case of inter-planetary missions, it is not possible to coincide auspicious time with the rocket’s launch time. The latter is decided based on the position of the target planet on the day when the spacecraft is expected to enter its orbit. So, the countdown is started on the auspicious time,” he explained.
Similarly, prior to every rocket mission, ISRO officials pray at the famed Lord Venkateswara Temple in Tirumala in Andhra Pradesh 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.
Curiously, following the failure of Apollo-13 to land on the moon, the American space agency has not named any other mission with that number. India’s Rs 450 crore Mars Orbiter Mission, however, was a tradition breaker in a way by flying on a Tuesday. (IANS)