He, who can take you to the moon and back!
Born on 25th September 1920
In kindergarten, when a teacher asks, ‘So kids, what do you want to become in future?’ the number of votes an astronaut collects, triumphs over all the other occupations. The overly enthusiastic youngsters forge a stockpile of newspaper cuttings, pasting here and there, and gaze at the moon from a moving car, chasing him; reminding himself of his ambition incessantly. We keep counting those millions of stars, not realising when and how we have grown up. The dream dissociates while we find ourselves hit by the practicality of the mature adulthood, spaced out in a vapid cubicles. All those goals are stomped under the heavy load of fast earning. Our despondency terms it ‘fantasy’.
But the one who held onto it, who narrowed the light-year between him and those planetoids, who caught the sun in his grasp in actuality, the man of the parallax, Satish Dhawan, asks you to fasten your seatbelts as we are taking off on the remembrance of his star trek.
Talk of building a CV which can win you any interview, Satish Dhawan has it all! He completed his Bachelorette in Physics, Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering in the University of Punjab. He finished the Masters of Science in the University of Minnesota, specializing in aerospace engineering. Then, by 1951, he became the alumnus of California Institute of Technology by pursuing aeronautical engineering and a double PhD in Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering, with the guidance of Hans W. Lipemann.
His success heightened when in 1972, he became the chairman of *ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization), and promoted to be the secretary* to the Indian Government at the Department of Science.
A small mishap, in the words of APJ Abdul Kalam, describes his magnificent orchestration at ISRO at the finest. He spoke about the time, in 1979, the mission to launch a satellite failed when it landed on the Bay of Bengal. As the director of the Satellite Launch Vehicle, he and his team were nervous as they detected a miscalculation of the fuel storage. But Satish Dhawan, kept Abdul Kalam on the side, and faced the media by saying, “We failed! But I have a very strong trust in my team and I believe that next time we will definitely succeed.” Kalam raised Dhawan’s head high up in pride again in 1980 with a victorious launch. But a humble Dhawan didn’t step in; he let Abdul Kalam attend the press meet, making him the face of the grandeur.
Dr. Dhawan became the Director of Indian Institute of Science (IIS) in 1962, demarcating the time he engaged himself with the research towards boundary layer- recorded in the pioneering ‘Boundary Layer Theory’ by Hermann Schlichting. Our country’s first supersonic wave tunnel was installed by him at IIS. His research was not only focused on the boundary layers, but three dimensional boundary layers and trisonic flows.
Dhawan’s ground breaking experiments in remote sensing, satellite communications piloted the *INSAT (a satellite for telecommunication), IRS (the Indian Remote Sensing satellite), PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle)* - rocketing India’s position in the League of Nations revolving space to the top.
The renowned works of Dhawan as noted are, *Direct Measures of Skin Friction (1953), A glimpse of Fluid Mechanics Research in Bangalore 25 years ago (1982), Developments in Fluid Mechanics and Space Technology (1988), Bird Flight (1991), etc.*
He was awarded with Padma Bhushan in 1971, followed by Padma Vibhushan in 1981. He passed away on January 03, 2002 in Bangalore. A satellite launch centre at Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh) was retitled to Satish Dhawan Research Centre. The building of Mechanical Engineering in IIT, Ropar, is named after him as the Satish Dhawan Block.
This was story was first published on This Day.app.