A podcast, narrated by cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, reveals untold tales of India’s space missions
Season two gives a sneak-peek into thrilling space missions
Science and stories related to the subject can be complex. But thanks to the efforts of this team which also includes Bengalureans, the task has been made simple. Employing a storytelling narrative, Mission ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation), a podcast that is currently trending, attempts to lift the layers off the Indian space history in a conversational style.
Narrated by cricket’s commentator Harsha Bhogle, the podcast is back with its second season with an inspiring timeline of India’s space missions. From stories involving building large communication satellite launch vehicles to the shocking arrest of top ISRO scientist Nambi Narayan for alleged espionage, season two gives a sneak-peek into thrilling space missions.
Digging through tonnes of data on government archives, academic sources and interviews was an arduous task. However, Archana Nathan, a Bengaluru-based freelance journalist, who predominantly writes on art and culture, took upon the challenge of reading extensively on scientific data and records to interview experienced and elderly scientists over video calls.
Piecing together material from books and documents of ISRO scientists to put forth a script was not her cup of tea. Or so she thought until she took on the project. “For a person who writes mostly on art and culture, switching to writing on science and technology was not an easy task. I had to run through numerous records from various sources which were not easily accessible. The most technical terms had to be broken down into simple sentences that sounded conversational and appealed to even someone with no scientific knowledge,” says Nathan.
As a scriptwriter and interviewer, she also setup video interviews with the top scientists who worked with Vikram Sarabhai, the founder of ISRO. “Convincing and interviewing senior scientists over video calls, many of whom were above 80 years of age, was challenging. Since all of this was done during the peak of the pandemic, interviews were the least priority of most,” adds Nathan, about the podcast which has two seasons. Each episode, over 30 minutes long, involved 16 pages of script. The title track for the podcast was composed by Raghu Dixit.
From capturing moments like ‘assembling rocket parts in a shed in Peenya’ to ‘being able to place the satellite in space orbit,’ All Things Small, an audio-visual studio which produced the podcast, wanted to exemplify the Indian way of doing things. Gaurav Vaz, producer of the show mentions that Mission ISRO is inspired by BBC’s podcast titled ‘13 Minutes to the Moon’.
“India lacked the right resources and educational qualifications for producing scientists. Drawing inspiration from 13 Minutes to the Moon, we wanted to find out how with limited resources, Indian scientists managed to work on rockets, launchpads, satellites with lack of scientific resources. From carrying part of a rocket on the bicycle to assembling them in a small shed near Bengaluru, this is an attempt to show the Indian way of doing things,” says Vaz, who is hopeful of another season.
Harsha Bhogle, who is currently in UAE for the ICC T20 World Cup, was unavailable for comments on the show.
(Mission ISRO is now streaming on Spotify)