Kolkata This rocket scientist hasn't visited home in Manipur's Bishnupur district for over two years because of his love for work.
Meet Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientist Ningthoujam Raghu Singh, who was one of the bright sparks responsible for sending Chandrayaan-3 to the moon.
“I miss home, but have not been there for almost two years because of the nature of my work,” Singh told PTI, adding that he was yet to make up his mind when to visit home next.
“But, I must thank technology such as Whatsapp and Facebook for helping me interact with my parents almost every day,” Singh said.
In one of India's finest moments, Chandrayaan-3 successfully soft-landed on the south pole of the moon on August 23, creating history.
“The landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the moon is just the beginning of the much more ambitious next chapter of the Indian space programme that is set to study the sun, and put Indians in space on an Indian platform under the Gaganyaan programme,” he said.
“We are now focusing on Mission Gaganyaan, which envisages demonstration of human spaceflight capability by launching crew of three members to an orbit of 400 km for a three-day mission, and bring them back safely to earth, by landing in Indian sea waters,” he said.
So far, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma is the only Indian to have gone to space. In 1984, he went to space as part of an India-Soviet Union joint mission and spent eight days aboard the Salyut 7 Space Station.
Singh, son of N Chaoba Singh and N Yaimabi Devi from Thanga in Bishnupur district, comes from a humble fishing family of Thanga Khwairakpam Leikai, which is situated in the hillocks surrounded by the Loktak Lake.
He is an alumni of IISc Bangalore. Singh completed his Masters in Physics (gold medalist) from IIT-Guwahati and graduated in physics from DM College of Science Imphal. He joined ISRO as a scientist in 2006.
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh took to X, formerly Twitter, and said, “It's heartening to share that a scientist from Manipur, Dr. Raghu Ningthoujam, from Thanga, Bishnupur was part of the Chandrayaan moon landing mission. The setbacks we encounter from time to time cannot erase our 2000-year-old history. Regardless of the difficulty of the challenge, the people of Manipur will always bounce back stronger.” Stating that the successful south pole moon landing is a monumental accomplishment, he said the landing marks India as the pioneering nation to achieve this feat.
“We're immensely proud of this incredible achievement, and it is bound to inspire many young minds in the field of science and technology,” the chief minister added.
Ningthoujam Raghu Singh said: “We have put in a lot of effort for Chandrayaan missions over the years. I would like to say the credit not only goes to the ISRO scientists, but to every Indian who supported us over the years."
He said when Chandrayaan-2 failed, people of the country did not lose hope as they continued to support ISRO.
Singh said the journey from Chandrayaan 1-3 was one of the most remarkable achievements in global space research and exploration.
“India has always been the underdog in the global space race; USA, China and Russia have been at the forefront, but the Chandrayaan mission has put India in the league through its implementation of innovation and technology,” he said.
All three Chandrayaan missions have different objectives with Chandrayaan-1 being an orbiter mission, and Chandrayaan-2 and Chandrayaan-3 being a landing mission.
“India is not in a race to compete with NASA and other space organisations; we have our objectives which we hope to achieve and are not in a hurry to do so,” the scientist said.
Other Manipuris who also serve in different departments of ISRO include James Leichombam and Leichombam Praneshori.
Y Bishal Singha from Silchar was a team member of the Thermal Control Team in the Chandrayaan-3 mission, officials said.