Catch this virtual space exhibition

The virtual exhibition ‘ISRO & CNES: A Common History’ presents glimpses of collaboration between India and France within the 1960s and 70s

One of the favored archival photos from ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) is that of APPLE (Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment) communication satellite tv for pc being carried on a bullock cart for telemetry take a look at in 1981. The humble bullock cart was chosen because the scientists wished a non-magnetic surroundings. More such nuggets from historical past type part of the continuing virtual exhibition ‘India and France in Space; ISRO & CNES: A Common History’, curated by Hyderabad-based astronomer Pranav Sharma for the Centre National d’Études Spatiales (CNES).

Jacques Blamont and Vikram Sarabhai at Thumba, 1963
| Photo Credit:

It was meant to be a travelling exhibition, touring completely different cities in India and France. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, it is going to now be on-line ( The exhibition is organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in partnership with France. Following an inaugural handle by Jean-Yves Le Gall, president of CNES, on September 15, the exhibition went on-line and shall be on view until October 10.

One has to register on, and register to take a virtual tour of the pavilions to get a glimpse of the historical past of collaboration between India and France in space analysis from 1962 to the late 1970s. The CNES and ISRO partnership started with the assembly of Jacques Blamont, founding father of the French Space Agency and Vikram Sarabhai, the daddy of Indian Space Program, in the course of the Fifth General Assembly of Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) in Washington, DC in 1962.

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photograph of fairing of the French Centaure rocket in 1968

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s {photograph} of fairing of the French Centaure rocket in 1968
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“The idea of the exhibition was to highlight the humane side of science projects,” says curator Sharma. He calls the mounting of APPLE on a bullock cart an instance of Indian ‘jugaad’: “It’s the height of innovation and yet so simple.”

Sharma is a nationwide award-winning science communicator who has curated India’s first interdisciplinary Space Museum in Hyderabad, and believes that the historical past of science is as essential because the science itself.

Sharma says the virtual exhibition can have 25 panels that current anthropological, cultural, scientific and human tales from the start of Indian and French space packages, thus encapsulating the historical past of friendship, private memoirs, and tales of triumphs.

Pranav Sharma

To spotlight why understanding the historical past of science is essential, Sharma cites one other instance of how professor M S Swaminathan and the early scientists of impartial India got here collectively to make use of satellite tv for pc imagery to check crops and spot pests. “This exhibition will offer people a sample of how space scientists from India and France worked together with sociologists and agriculture scientists,” he says.

Among the opposite highlights are how the CNES supported the sounding rocket programme of ISRO throughout its nascent stage. Indian Space Program was launched with the taking off of the ‘Nike Apache’ rocket in 1963. The VIKRAM engine was developed by India by studying from liquid propulsion expertise developed by CNES and shared with India after the Societe Europeenne de Propulsion (SEP) – ISRO Agreement signed in 1974.

(‘India and France in Space; ISRO & CNES: A Common History’ is on view at

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