Kolkata: A galaxy of exhibits – from strands of Neil Armstrong’s hair to rocks from the moon and Mars – await enthusiasts at this new “one-of-its-kind” museum of astronomy and space science.
The 1,200-artefact-strong repository, which has come up on the premises of the Indian Centre for Space Physics here, also features rare documents like handwritten diaries and notes of eminent scientists and Nobel laureates, Director of ICSP Professor Sandip Kumar Chakrabarti said.
Spread over 7,000 square feet, the museum was inaugurated by Rakesh Sharma, the celebrated first Indian astronaut to venture into space, on Friday.
“This is a one-of-its-kind gallery because such a collection is unheard of for any other museum in India. There are many repositories with numerous exhibits dedicated to air and space, but none with so much astronomical content,” Chakrabarti claimed.
“The key exhibits include hair strands of Armstrong (the first person to walk on the moon), a 370-crore-year-old bacteria fossil, scaled-down models of Apollo 11 and the aircraft of the Wright brothers, handwritten notes and autographs of eminent astronauts and scientists from the last 200 years, as well as rocks from the moon, Mars and various meteorites,” he said.
Sharma, while speaking at the inauguration, said the museum would enthuse the young generation and guide them towards space sciences.
“If you are looking to future-proof your careers, then let this museum ignite your interest – because space, indeed, is the future,” the 74-year-old former wing commander told a gathering of students.
Sharma was part of a joint Soviet-Indian spaceflight in 1984.
Chakrabarti said the West Bengal government has granted Rs 40 lakh for the museum building, where exhibits worth over Rs 1 crore are on display.
“We have dedicated the repository to Kolkata-born Ram Chandra Chatterjee, who is regarded as the first Indian aeronaut (balloonist), and eminent aerospace engineer Stephen Hector Taylor-Smith, who carried out about 300 rocket experiments from the Kolkata region between 1934 and 1944,” he said.
The exhibits have been sourced from different auctions across the world, while some were donated by family members of scientists and astronauts.
(Published 28 October 2023, 12:41 IST)