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Ranchi brain behind new Nasa rocket * Share

This space scientist, with roots in Ranchi is on a new mission. Working in Nasa, his team is trying to build a rocket that can carry six persons to space, instead of the usual three.


Aquil Akhtar (41), a former student of Ranchi's Guru Nanak School, who later went on to join the Nasa as a scientist, is the main designer of the rocket Aries-I.


The project has already kicked off and the rocket is expected to be ready by 2014. The Ranchi scientist is working with the structural analysis department and presently in the team of scientists for Aries-I constellation future rocket programmes, which will replace the current shuttle programmes.


"We are modifying the present space shuttle to build Aries I. Here six persons can fly into space as against three in present space shuttle," said Akhtar while talking to The Telegraph from the Nasa headquarters. He was thrilled to be a part of the Aries I mission, the latest version of the rocket programmes.


Akhtar's team includes four other scientists from India and he is the only one from the Jharkhand-Bihar region.


Akhtar wanted to become a doctor but life had different plans for him. After completing his Plus Two from Guru Nanak School, he went on to complete his BTech in mechanical engineering from BIT, Sindri, in 1988 before he moved to the US for further studies.


In 1991, he had completed his MTech from Steven Institute of Technology, New Jersey, after which he worked in various automobile companies including General Motors in the US.


"At General Motors, I was in-charge of designing new cars. Now, this experience is helping me to design a rocket, though the two things stand on entirely different realms," Akhtar added.


He also has a political link. Akhtar is the grandson of Late Khan Bahadur, a former Member of Parliament from Ranchi. Akhtar's brother in the state capital was also thrilled about his new mission. "He keeps us posted about his scientific activities in Nasa. It is indeed a new and different experience for us too," said Aslam Perwej, his doctor brother, who stays with other family members on Ranchi Main Road.


June 10, 2009 / Telegraph


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