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  • This boy from Bidar aspires to be an astronaut

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    Vishal Vasmate, a student of aerospace programme at University of Southern California, in Bidar. —Photo: Gopichand T.

    Vishal Vasmate, a student of aerospace programme at University of Southern California, in Bidar. —Photo: Gopichand T.

    It is easy to tell whether Vishal Vasmate is in town. His motorcycle will be parked outside the madrasa of Mahamud Gawan and he will be sitting quietly on a model of the solar system carved atop the 15th century university.

    He sits for hours contemplating on the medieval era institution of higher learning that attracted international students and keeps dreaming of jumping to the sky in a rocket.

    “It is a matter of pride and unbelievable amazement that my home town had such an academic centre,” he says with a smile. “What is more, the teachers taught astronomy from a classroom on the ceiling, open to the air. They used as teaching aids, models of stars and planets made of lime mortar. The effort behind this is so inspiring that it makes my dream of travelling in space commonplace and doable,” he said. The student of the aerospace program at University of Southern California has come to Bidar to visit his parents.

    His fascination with space started with a chapter on Kalpana Chawla in his school textbook. A visit to a planetarium made him addicted to novels and books about space. “I began idealising space walkers like Rakesh Sharma,” Vishal says.

    His physics professor Jithesh Babu recognised his interest in physics and mathematics and nurtured him. Participation in a workshop for astronomy and astrophysics where he interacted with scientists from the Indian Institute of Science and the mission head of Indian Space Research Organisations’ Chandrayaan programme. “They gave me a firsthand account of the mission and the issues concerning space navigation,” he said.

    Vishal went to the U.S. after a computer science degree from RV College, Bengaluru. He cleared the graduate record examination and chose USC. “I was attracted by its star alumnus Neil Armstrong and teachers like Mike Gruntman and Gerald Hintz, whose publications on design, spacecraft systems, and flight operations have led the way in space explorations,” he said.

    “It is wrong to say that space science is only for scientists who lock themselves up in high security laboratories. Astronautics is an intellectually challenging, economically important, and an exciting field. It has brought unthinkable changes in the way communicate. Some of the by products of space research like artificial legs have revolutionised healthcare. It has touched several facets of our lives,” he said.

    “Vishal was mad about astronautics. We tried it shake it off initially, but realised it was an obsession beyond control. We let him follow his heart,” says Chandrakant Vasmate, his father. Mr. Vasmate, a Bidar-based industrialist, supported his son’s studies, despite snares from neighbours and family friends whose children had joined well paying IT jobs.

    source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National> Karnataka / by Rishikesh Bahadur Desai / Bidar – July 04th, 2016

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