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Space

Astronauts, Cosmonauts, Spationauts... Indonauts?

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With India planning its first independent manned space flight in 2016, Isro, the nation’s premier space agency, may well want to start pondering a certain matter of national importance: what will we call this league of extraordinary Indians? Our first man in space, Rakesh Sharma, may have seen India as “saare jahaan se achchha”, but he was also known as a ‘cosmonaut’ because his space mission was a joint collaboration between Isro and the Soviet Intercosmos space programme. Things might well have been different if Isro had at that time been collaborating instead with America’s Nasa (astronaut), or the French (spationaut), or Chinese (taikonaut). Isn’t it time to coin a uniquely Indian term that will corroborate our recently acquired space ambitions? “We will certainly look into your suggestion and try to have a term of our own for Indians who undertake space flights,” says Isro spokesperson S Satish.

Open decided to put its mind to the project. There were sober suggestions: Bharatnauts, Indonauts. Something to please the Thackerays: Antariksh manoos. And also one that had us cracking up: Coconauts. Jokes apart, do send in your ideas and we’ll try our best to convince Isro.