Just like NASA’s motto that states “At NASA, we make Air and Space available for everyone”, Dr. Margasahayam from Mumbai proved the motto right.
Dr. Margasahayam is an aerospace engineer who sent over 700 humans into space. According to the Global Indian story, Dr.Margasahayam shared the tale behind his space dream. “It was 1973, I was in engineering college. My friends and I were roaming the streets of Darjeeling, looking for a postcard of Tenzing Norgay, the first man who climbed Mount Everest, when we spotted the man himself, sitting nearby, and we introduced ourselves to him. As he chatted with us, he told me that young engineers must be thinking of climbing Everest someday, but he has already done that.
“ You must find your own mountain to climb’,” -Tenzing Norgay
It was then the Global Space Ambassador for John F. Kennedy Space Center, NASA, Dr. Margasahayam decided to find his own mountain to climb. He went on a quest to find his own peak-to-scale. He found his destination about 15,000 km away from Bengaluru, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, USA. In a glorious career spanning over three decades, Dr. Margasahayam has played an instrumental role in launching over a hundred Space Shuttle missions, which took more than 700 astronauts to space, including Indian-born astronaut, Kalpana Chawla.
The 69-year-old aerospace engineer also shared his meeting with Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam and had the privilege of showing him around the John F. Kennedy Space Center. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam envied him and said,
‘You did the one thing I couldn’t ever do – launch humans into space. You are an Astronaut Maker’,”
Dr. Margasahayam’s love of aerospace started when he was a kid. He was always the curious kid that always got fascinated with machines. Apart from his love for machines, Dr. Margasahayam was equally mesmerised by the glitz of Bollywood. “When I was around 10, I watched the Hindi film Sangam which was about an Air Force pilot, and it inspired me a lot. I thought of becoming a pilot as I would travel to exotic locations, and have a beautiful wife,” laughs the NASA veteran, adding, “Well, I couldn’t become a pilot, but I sent many to space, and I have a beautiful wife”, he added.
In 1989, Dr. Margasahayam became the first Indian to work and research at NASA’s Moonpad, the same launchpad where Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins left Earth for the Moon. He studied the field of Vibroacoustics – which is the science of how sounds can create vibrations and become a load on a structure and affect our space shuttles.
In 2019, he was nominated by NASA Astronauts and held the position of Solar System Ambassador in California. This NASA veteran along the way has encouraged several young people to explore the fascinating secrets of the Universe.
Nothing is impossible if you keep trying and dreaming big. Remember to reach for the stars because you might just become one!