On my trip to coorg, which was more of a get together with my undergrad class mates, Sethu was generous enough to invite me to his place, Sriharikota, to witness pslv-c9 launch. He happens to work for ISRO at sriharikota. Offcourse, I went!
Three of my friends (jayant, rakesh and girish) in bangalore joined. We left on 27th (27/04/2008) night and reached my friend’s home next day morning at arround 5:30 am. Sriharikota is a barrier island with pulicot lake on one side and Bay of Bengal on the other side. The quarters is near the pulicot lake. A road cuts right through the lake to Sriharikota. We spent the day killing time, playing cricket for some time, sleeping for 2 hours after lunch. In the evening we went to view the pulicot lake. We were off-season, so we could barely see any birds. A lone bird standing was quite a view though (Am I consoling myself? 🙂 ). Early morning would be the right time to visit the lake. The main objective was to see the rocket go up. Anything else was a bonus for me!
Sulurpet is the closest town to sriharikota. The quarters is fairly self-sufficient in terms of facilities. They have there own sports club with good facilities. Pity we could not take a dip in the crystal clear swimming pool there. Considering the fact that the climate was humid and hot, the pool was very inviting. And they have there own marraige hall, two lawn tennis courts.
The launch time was 9:23 am on 28th. We left the quarters at 7:00 am and were there in Sriharikota at arround 8:00 am. Here, guys at ISRO had already setup tents and loudspeakers at various viewpoints for the crowd. By viewpoints, I mean, the hospital building, hostel building, admin building. We went to the hospital terrace ten minutes before the launch. Before that, we sat at a conference room in the hospital which had a TV for people to view the pre-launch proceeding. At some time, the commentator said “From now on the rocket is in control of the on-board computer”. It felt like the rocket had gotten a life of its own!
Huge crowd had gathered at the terrace. Many of them were school kids. Many of the boys had climbed to the part of the terrace that was forbidden. The crowd, as the time came near, eagerly moved towards the direction of the launch, to the edge of the terrace! The last ten seconds everyone joined the commentator in chorus, counting down from ten. As the count down ended, everyone waited in silence. At last, we saw the tip of the rocket and in a moment it was above the trees in front of us. I just stood there in silence, relishing the view of it. It went up with a grinding noise. The noise was not like a jet plane. It had more of bass and less of trebble. Like the ground was shaking far off and we can not feel it but only hear it.
Watching the rocket go up was one of those moments I will always remember. I guess its the idea of leaving earth to outer space that makes a rocket launch so special. Something that anyone can relate to. And yes, if you get a chance, don’t think twice. Its worth it.