India can be proud of what it has achieved with the Chandrayaan-2 mission, despite the problems encountered with the Vikram lander, Wing Commander (Retd) Rakesh Sharma, Indias first man in space, said on Friday.
I think it was a wonderful mission. It had the entire nation riveted. I myself went to bed at four in the morning. I think we are all very proud that weve achieved what weve achieved, Mr. Sharma said on the sidelines of the fifth A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Lecture organised by the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) here.
Things not coming through fully, well, thats part of any research and development activity. So thats par for the course. We are on the learning curve, Mr. Sharma told reporters here.
He added that we should wait for the inquiry to be complete so that we know precisely what happened in the last few seconds of the soft landing attempt on the lunar surface.
Mr. Sharma, who flew aboard the Russian Soyuz T-11 spacecraft in 1984, said he regretted the fact that his manned mission took place too early in time. If he were part of Gaganyaan Indias upcoming human space flight programme he could have been sure of being a career astronaut, he said.
Because it would not have ended in one flight. Nobody else has gone (from India) for 35 years. If I were part of Gaganyaan, I could have been sure that for the next few years, there would have been a second space mission and a third space mission, he said.
I saw my country first
During the interaction with IIST students earlier, Mr. Sharma was asked what was it that he saw first from space. I saw my country first. Because, whoever gets up into space from whichever nationality, the first thing they do is they look out for their country. That is what I did, he said. The Indian peninsula with the ocean on all three sides. And it was a beautiful sight, he said.
On his selection as a cosmonaut, Mr. Sharma, a test pilot with the Indian Air Force at the time, said it came out of the blue. There was this rumour that there was this secret mission happening and we were asked, will you volunteer for it? All of us loved the suspense and said we will volunteer, he said.
Interestingly, the first Indian cosmonaut was not an exceptionally bright student as a youngster. He was more interested in sports and dreaming, Mr. Sharma said, much to the amusement of the students. A class teacher, he recalled, once admonished him that at the rate at which he was going, the only future job that he could expect was to stand outside the general post office with his tongue hanging out so that the people can stick stamps on letters.