A senior scientist working at the Indian Space Research Organisation has become the first Indian to go on a tour of the stratosphere, the edge of space, which is the second layer beyond earth.
The stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. It is stratified in temperature, with warmer layers higher up and cooler layers farther down.
TN Suresh Kumar, an avid traveler, is a senior scientist at Isro's master control facility in Hassan. He paid a sum of Rs 15 lakh for the travel and took the journey from an agency conducting space travel — Country of Tourism Ltd — in Russia which started the journey called 'Edge of Space' six years ago. He travelled to an altitude of 17,100 metres in a MIG 29 from Sokol Airbase.
"Besides me there was a pilot on the flight. I always wanted to take the Indian flag to space and so I deliberately undertook the journey on August 15. Besides the flag, I also took my mother's photo with me. It was very expensive but nothing can be compared to the thrill that I got. After the space journey, I went on a trans-Siberain tour and returned three days back," he told HT.
Describing the journey he said: "It was a 48 minute flight but we were at the edge of space only for one minute."
"It was in late 1985, I was one of the astronauts short listed to go to space but unfortunately the programme was dropped due to explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in February 1986. This was a great disappointment for me. But it set a new goal for me to touch all the continents of the globe."
On his next mission he said: "I am planning to undertake the zero gravity flight from Russia in February next year."