ISRO Headquarters, Bangalore. It was a jubilant atmosphere at the ISRO headquarters after the agency successfully placed 20 satellites in orbit using just one PSLV rocket.
While the assembled members of the press received the briefing prepared in advance by ISRO PR Team, the reporter from Faking news was able to reach out to a deeply placed source within ISRO who spoke on conditions of anonymity.
As per the source, ISRO was forced to take inspiration and consulting from an unusual source for how to pack 20 satellites on one rocket: a shared auto driver by the name of Jumman Mian.
“We were perplexed by the problem that we faced,”said the source. “While the PSLV rocket was definitely capable of carrying the weight of 20 satellites, we couldn’t figure out how to pack them on the launch vehicle. It was just not big enough,” he said.
“It was very embarrassing for the agency that claims to employ the finest brains in the country. For a moment, it seemed ISRO would fail to deliver. Then one day, my car was rammed in from the rear while waiting at a traffic signal in Bangalore. I jumped out to see who is the god-forsaken nincompoop ramming into me. I couldn’t believe my eyes for what I saw; it was a 7 seater auto carrying 20-25 people! While an ordinary person would have dragged the shared auto driver to a police station, I immediately dragged him to ISRO headquarters,” the source recalled.
Thus entered Jumman Mia; a veteran of share auto driving for last 17 years. He was immediately put up to the task.
The first thing he did was throwing caution to the wind. ‘Agey peechey ho ke baitho….adjust maadhi (one person sits forward on the seat, the other goes back; adjust)’, this became the guideline principle of the project. In a matter of few hours, Jumman Mian was able to load all 20 satellites on PSLV rocket with enough space left for 2-3 more.
Later Jumman confessed that he left this space for the driver; not knowing that the PSLV rocket does not have a driver. This was a humbling experience for all ISRO scientists present who were not able to fit more than 5-6 satellites on the rocket in their past attempts.
His timely intervention saved the project and has allowed ISRO to keep the deadline (and its face too).
However, not all went well with Jumman. Despite of being the hero who saved the day, he had a dispute with ISRO over payment.
As his ‘consultancy charges’, ISRO paid him on a per satellite basis (as it is the practice in his occupation). However, Jumman was quick to point out that the payment is also dependent upon the distance covered.
As PSLV carried satellites to a distance of 200-500 kilometer, his payment should factor in that. Whether ISRO will accept his request is a subject to future speculation.