Manash Pratim Borah going to NASA : Making India Poud

Manash Pratim Borah became the fist person from Northeast India and the entire Eastern Indian region to have led an Indian team to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and win the Best International Team Award- Jesco Von Puttkamer Award at the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge, 2016.

Manash along with his team won the award for creating a human exploration rover for alien surface with a non-pneumatic wheel that has never been used before. It uses glass fibre and has spoke-suspension and is one of the most durable designs ever created. Manash also became the first from the entire region to become the Space Ambassador to India on behalf of Nasa and the International Space Education Institute (ISEI), Germany on April 19. He succeeded aspiring astronaut Jasleen Josan.

However, despite his great feat, Manash cited that he was denied support from the Assam Government when he was in dire need of funds. Speaking to agencies, he said that he was in need of quite a lot of money for travelling to the US, Moscow and Germany and an equipment that would cost him a huge amount for his team to be eligible to participate in the event. However, when he approached the erstwhile Assam CM for aid, he was turned down because it was election time. He was further declined when he called up the then CM’s residence.

Manish and his team had to spend close to Rs. 12 lakh for the equipment called buggy including his travel expenses. However, since the money they roped in was not enough, Tec Mantra Labs also assisted them with funds which consecutively led to his milestone achievement at NASA.

Up close and personal with the first Northeastener who represented India at NASA

Often, as kids, we have looked up at the stars and wondered how it would be like to live up there! However, as we grew up, we realized that some dreams can never be converted into reality and hence, we chose to give up on them.

However, this one guy from Assam did not give up on his dreams and continued to pursue his passion! So intense was his desire that he ended up becoming the first person from the Northeast region to have led an Indian team to NASA.

Just like any other super hero story, his achievement was not a smooth sailing ship. Sharing his experiences with TNT-The Northeast Today ,  22-year-old Manash Pratim Borah talks about his childhood, his passion, the hardships and how, despite de-motivating  hurdles, he emerged successful.

Right from his childhood, Manash had an unconditional love for the Space Exploration. He remembers watching a lot of TV shows on Nat Geo and Discovery on these topics and how he used to get very thrilled about Space. After joining his engineering course, he wished to explore the concepts learnt in school and use it in a practical way. It was a blessing in disguise when he was given an opportunity and had the chance to explore upon his favourite topic of Space Exploration and Aeronautics.

The universe is a very big component and hence it’s really wonderful to be exploring and learning things in it. This is the only thing that mankind has not been able to learn a lot about, and so this gave him a tremendous potential to learn and grow.

He went on to explain more about the Human Exploration Rover which is a prototype of the Rover which was sent on the Moon during the Apollo Space Missions. The technical features of the Rover include the points like it cannot be more than 120 Kgs. The Rover has to be human powered and in no way can it have any batteries to power the system. The Rover must have a state of the art Differential Gear system which forms the heart and soul of the Rover. In additional the rover must have the place to seat 2 people. The Rover must boast a camera and a telemetry system in order to track all its progress like speed, etc. This rover has to also have the space for the storage of samples of rocks and liquids. It must have a very efficient suspension system because it has to survive the various rocks and the various boulders and challenging obstacles during the course. Our Rover has to have Non-Pneumatic Wheels (These are systems which do not use any air inflated wheel or the rubber wheels). This is the basic highlight of the Rover.

He mentioned how his journey as a Space Ambassador has been terrific till date. It’s been one of the most redeeming and rewarding experiences till date. In addition he has been networking with students and trying to find out talent from the state of Assam.

He was selected as the Space Ambassador along with 2 partners in the competition, DeepikaDaluvari and Shekhar D. Pathak. We have been chosen as the Space Ambassador as we have been predominantly involved for the last one year for the NASA Human Exploration Rover Challenge 2016.

However, not all good things come at little cost. There was a huge price to be paid to fulfil his dreams into reality.

Being from a middle class background, its always very difficult to fund very expensive projects. He, along with his team mates Deepika Daluvari and Shekhar D. Pathak had to travel to 3 different countries to complete their modules for this competition. The total expenditure on travel and building the Rover came out to be about 15 Lakhs. I was very confident about the State Govt. to help me out to hopefully get some help from them. Yet due to election period, his plans to get the required help from the Govt. faded away.

This made him sad and disappointed yet his parents had been supportive and helped him out and made it a point that he did not feel the trouble of getting himself a successful participation for this competition.

Although he wished that the Govt. of Assam would have helped him out, but due to unfortunate circumstances he had to get the funds done by myself. “It was a very very heavy investment”, he sighed.

Message for the youths: “I have always been a firm believer in the fact that if someone has the capability and has the potential to go and achieve success, he can do it and money concerns can never stop him. Just like our respected former President of India, APJ Abdul Kalam, who came from a very monetarily poor family background, yet went on to achieve so many things in life. We all can do that. Just keep believing in yourself and let the magic of a good life filled with joy and happiness unfold in front of you. I sincerely hope the new state Govt. of Assam will surely help the students in such endeavours and make them go on to achieve glorious things in life”.

His parents had been the pillars of his success. They have been the ones who have always kept him motivated and guided and believed in him despite all odds.

His father had been a victim of a very tragic accident in the month of March, just 15 days before the competition, yet the moral support from his parents played an influential role in this front.

He added that North East has been a zone which has had a compelling and enormous amount of growth in the last few decades. He feels people have been exploring what they love to do and they have been pivotal in the success of the states of North East India. And he urged everyone to keep their spirits high and keep going for the things that they love to do and never stop no matter what happens.

On being asked the role of government in fulfilling the youths dream, he said that the Govt. plays a very crucial role in the overall development of the talent of a particular individual and that they must lend a hand of support to all the students who are trying to achieve something big in life.

He requested the Govt. of the states of North East to make intellectual individuals grow by supporting them in all the things that they ever dream for and provide them with monetary help if they have a genuine action plan.

As for his future course of action he said that their team would be going to Germany in Summer of 2016 for 3 months to develop the next generation rover and design.

A message for the people of North East India – “believe in you. You are the CEO of your life, make the best decisions and go for glory. Focus on success, it’s better than thinking “Don’t fail “. The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

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