This blog is about the rise, the struggle and the story of Mr. Nambi Narayanan. The legendary Indian scientist who is a prodigy in his field and who eventually became a victim of false accusation and envy from his naysayers.
He received an offer to work at NASA at a very young age at a higher pay. But he rejected that offer and eventually joined ISRO under the guidance of his guide Dr. Vikram Sarabhai.
The “Vikas” engine works on liquid propulsion technology. During the early days, when Dr. Nambi Narayan joined India’s space industry, most of the experiments were solid-fuelled. The thought of liquid propulsion was much of a futuristic idea. Not many of his senior colleagues & bosses, including ‘Missile Man of India’ – Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam were really convinced of the need of liquid propulsion technology at that point of time. However, they didn’t stop Nambi from working towards his goal.
In 1974, Societe Europeenne de Propulsion made a deal with with ISRO stating that they would transfer the Viking engine technology in return for 100 man-years of engineering work. This was done by Narayanan leading the team of 40 engineers divided into 3 teams. The ISRO experts were able to accomplish this after five years of development on the French engine.
He was the inventor of Liquid Propellant system. He put out a quotation to Russia to supply them components for cryogenic engines. Cryogenic engine uses cryogenic fuel and an oxidizer. Cryogenics is a technology that involves freezing and storing things at extremely low temperatures for preservation or for better performance. In this case, the fuel and the oxidizer are both gases which are stored in liquid states. This type of fuel is used in powering liquid-propulsion rockets.
Much to the envy of USA, who started out a conflict against this effort, India and Russia had a hard time bringing in components discreetly without the USA’s knowledge. The USA was totally against the India-Russia Partnership, even resorting to the extent of violence.
He was working in ISRO for the love and patriotism towards his country but unfortunately he was falsely accused for being an anti-national and a traitor.
He was arrested on November 30, 1994, for allegedly indulging in espionage with two Maldivian women, Mariam Rasheeda and Fauziyya Hassan, for giving drawings and documents of rocket engines to them.
The case, initiated by Kerala police and Intelligence Bureau officials, came to an end in April 1996, when the CBI submitted a closure report stating that they were false accusations and that the testimonies of suspects were forced through torture.
Thus he was fired from his job from ISRO. He then faced a lot of issues from his family. It took him 2 years to prove that he was not anti-national. It took 24 years to recognize him and offer him the third highest Civilian award The Padma Bhushan. He would’ve been the chairman of ISRO if it weren’t for the case which affected his personal and professional life.
All three of India’s active space rockets, the PSLV, GSLV, and GSLV Mark 3, have a technological attribute: they are all (in one stage or the other) propelled by the “Vikas” engine. All Indian rockets use the liquid-fuelled Vikas engine, which is still in use today. It has also aided in missions like Mangalyaan and Chandrayaan. This wouldn’t have been possible without our scientist, Dr. Nambi Narayanan – the man behind the the great leap into the era of PSLV rockets. The journey towards the success of “Vikas” engine has not been a catwalk for anyone.
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