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ISRO's Space Mission Traditions: Unveiling Superstitions



  Feb 17, 2024

ISRO's Space Mission Traditions: Unveiling Superstitions



Superstitions and Traditions in Space Missions: ISRO’s Unique Approach: Number 13

In the realm of space exploration, where the intersection of cutting-edge technology and age-old beliefs creates a fascinating narrative, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) presents a compelling case study. The decision to skip the number ‘13’ in the naming sequence of its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) series underscores the intriguing blend of science and superstition. The latest GSLV rocket, designated as ‘GSLV-F14’ instead of the sequentially expected ‘GSLV-F13’, highlights a deliberate deviation influenced by the common superstition associating the number ‘13’ with bad luck.

This practice is not isolated to the GSLV series alone. ISRO previously bypassed the number ‘13’ in its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) series, jumping from ‘PSLV-C12’ directly to ‘PSLV-C14’. Such actions mirror the superstitions observed by other space agencies, including NASA, which has its own set of traditions like the sharing of lucky peanuts, stemming partly from the historical backdrop of the Apollo-13 mission’s challenges.

The integration of traditions and superstitions extends beyond nomenclature. ISRO’s launch protocols incorporate auspicious timings, avoiding inauspicious periods such as Rahu Kaalam. Rituals, including the breaking of coconuts and prayers at temples, are performed seeking divine blessings for mission success. These practices reflect a deep-rooted cultural ethos that respects and acknowledges the uncertainties and risks inherent in space exploration.

Interestingly, ISRO’s adherence to these customs does not detract from its scientific rigor or its ability to innovate and achieve remarkable successes. The agency’s decision to launch the Mars Orbiter Mission on a Tuesday, despite the day being traditionally considered inauspicious, and its subsequent success, underscores the balance ISRO maintains between respecting traditions and pursuing technological advancements.

ISRO’s approach offers a unique lens through which to view the global space exploration narrative, illustrating how cultural beliefs and scientific pursuits can coexist harmoniously. This blend of superstition and science not only enriches the cultural tapestry of space exploration but also serves as a reminder of the human element in these highly technical endeavors. As ISRO continues to push the boundaries of space science, its acknowledgment of traditions and auspicious practices adds an intriguing dimension to its journey, bridging the gap between the celestial and the terrestrial.

SRIRAM’s

highlights the fascinating interplay between superstitions, traditions, and cutting-edge science within ISRO’s operations, reflecting a broader understanding that in the quest to explore the unknown, both human beliefs and technological prowess play pivotal roles.


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