February 22, 2020
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Boys Club Ticket To Moonistan

Boys Club Ticket To Moonistan
It’s the age when you have stars in your eyes and think you can reach for the moon. Well, Abhishiekh Aggarwal, for one, is getting the last part right. A first year engineering student at the Thapar Institute of Technology (TIT), Patiala, he and 10 other fellow students are winging their way to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week to make a presentation of their space city on the moon. Their proposal for ‘Bellevistat’—the name they chose for their moon settlement—is among the top eight entries shortlisted in a nasa-sponsored contest seeking ideas for a space city on the moon.

Abhishiekh and his team first submitted the concept for a doughnut-shaped space city, in orbit around the earth. Designed to accommodate around 15,000 people at a time, and spread over a 1.2 km radius, the team had provided for gravity, atmosphere and civic amenities in the space city. Now they will design a similar city on the moon, meant to house at least 16,500 people. Predictably, team members are excited about their upcoming trip. While 10 members are first year engineering students, seven are from the Budha Dal Public School in Patiala, which is collaborating with Abhishiekh on the project.

Abhishiekh, the engine and driver behind the project, told Outlook that he’s proud that theirs is the only "foreign team" selected by NASA, the other seven being from the US. Anyway, getting noticed by nasa probably wasn’t as difficult for these budding scientists as managing funds for the overseas trip. For some time, it appeared the team may not be able to go for want of sufficient funds. Then Punjab CM Amarinder Singh and the department of science and technology both offered to help, although financial assistance is yet to come. Meanwhile, parents and friends have put together the money. The team was also invited to meet the US ambassador to India David Mulford last month, to spend some time explaining the project to him.

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