Saturday, September 20, 2008

India to join select nations when it sends mission to moon October 19

New Delhi, Sept 19, 2008: India will join a select group of nations when it sends its first mission to moon on October 19 this year. This will be a big scientific feat for a developing nation like India that has not received much scientific assistance from the west.

ISRO has already made it clear that the Indian lunar mission will not be an exercise in reinventing the wheel. Chandrayaan-1 will strive to unravel the hitherto unknown features of the moon for the first time.

ISRO points out that a lunar mission can provide impetus to science in India, a challenge to technology and possibly a new dimension to international cooperation.

Also on the agenda are the preparation of the three dimensional atlas of the regions on the moon and the chemical mapping of the entire lunar surface.

This is a dream for any nation. And India is going to fulfill its long cherished dream on this coming 19th October. Everyone is unanimous on one thing. If India’s Moon project is successful, it will be something for everyone to cheer loudly about. The Moon is Earth’s single important natural satellite, and as planetary moons go, it is unusually large in size compared to Earth.

For India, which began its space journey in a modest way in 1963 with the launch of a 9-kilo rocket from a research facility at the fishing hamlet of Thumba in Kerala, the Chandrayaan-1 marks a quantum leap. Indeed, India’s unmanned scientific mission to moon, which was approved almost four years ago, has moved further up India’s priority list in the wake of China’s successful manned mission of October 2003.

In the meantime ISRO has announced that Chandrayaan 1 will be on Display for the first time before Media. Chandrayaan Means “Moon Craft”.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indian scientistn develops new technology to boost missile range by 40%

Indian scientists have developed path-breaking technology that has the potential to increase the range of missiles and satellite launch vehicles by at least 40%, a member of the team which achieved the technological breakthrough said.

India’s longest-range missile, Agni III, is capable of hitting targets 3,500 km away and the new technology could boost its range to 4,900 km. The enhanced range is made possible by adding a special-purpose coating of chromium metal to the blunt nose cone of missiles and launch vehicles, G Jagadeesh, an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here said.

IISc, which is in celebrating its centenary this year, has applied for an international patent for the technology.

“Objects such as missiles fly at hypersonic velocities which are more than five times the speed of sound and encounter atmospheric drag because of friction. The chromium coating works by adding temporary heat and pushing the stagnating gas away to create an easier path,” Mr Jagadeesh said. Laboratory experiments have shown that atmospheric drag because of the coating fell by 47% and Mr Jagadeesh said a “conservative estimate” was that this would result in range going up at least 40%.

The findings of the team—which also includes Vinayak Kulkarni of IIT-Guwahati and G M Hegde, E Arunan and K P J Reddy of IISc—have been reported in the latest issue of the Physics of Fluids journal published by the American Institute of Physics.

The breakthrough also has potential to help avert problems of the type which led to break up in 2003 of the American space shuttle Columbia when it was re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The disaster was caused by damage to the shuttle’s thermal protection system, killing seven crew members, including astronaut of Indian origin Kalpana Chawla.

The special-purpose coating in place of the tiles and panels which now protect orbiters against extreme heat during re-entry into the atmosphere is seen as distinct possibility.

“The coating evaporates once the object has re-entered the atmosphere. This novel method is path-breaking because additional energy is not required to reduce drag; objects which travel into space need to carry a much lower fuel load,” he said.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

NSG waiver will help ISRO: Nair

Calling the NSG waiver a big achievement for the country, ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair on Monday said it will help the Indian space department access latest space technologies from developed nation.

"It is a major achievement for India. We will have a better opportunity to interact with other developed nations on sharing certain space technologies," Nair told reporters on the sidelines of a function at SRM University here.

He said the signing of the 123 Agreement with the US will in a way help the ISRO work closely with the NASA.

On the "Chandrayaan-I" (moon) mission, Nair said all the technical parameters for the launch were progressing well and the launch "is expected by this October end".

He said the country's space department has world-class technologies to provide valuable inputs to tackle natural disasters.

"We have been monitoring the floods in Bihar. The National Remote Sensing Centre in Hyderabad has been receiving updates from a Canadian radar imaging satellite. We are providing satellite images of the inundated areas to the Army for rescue operations," he added.

Earlier, Nair was conferred a honorary Doctorate of Science by the SRM University for his outstanding contribution to the Indian Space Programme.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

N - Powered.............

The 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has finally given its nod to the Indo-US nuclear deal in Vienna on Saturday.

Ending three decades of isolation, India has joined the elite nuclear club. The NSG waiver has come through on the third day of the crucial talks in Vienna after push from the highest political level, the opposing countries gave their nod.

Sources say apart from External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement, there is no reference to ban on tests or termination of deal if India tests.

US President George W Bush called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh soon after the waiver came through. Congress president Sonia Gandhi congratulated the PM.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon has told NDTV that the text permits full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the world.

Atomic Energy's chief negotiator in Vienna Ravi B Grover told NDTV that it's a clean waiver for India at the NSG, changes in the draft made have been mutually agreed upon.

"It's a clean waiver for India. Changes made in the draft is mutually agreed upon. We have no problem with the draft," said Ravi B Grover, Atomic Energy Negotiator.

And the prime minister hailed it as a landmark decision. In a statement after the waiver the PM said:

"This is a forward-looking and momentous decision. It marks the end of India's decades long isolation from the nuclear mainstream and of the technology denial regime. It is a recognition of India's impeccable non-proliferation credentials and its status as a state with advanced nuclear technology."

Welcoming the waiver External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "We welcome the decision and thank NSG countries and the final outcome fully meets our expectations. NSG waiver a unique development, it is in India's interest."

US Under Secretary, Arms and Control, John Roods has said that it is a historic moment for India and the decision will improve ties between India and the US.

Sources have told NDTV that the new draft, which got the go-ahead by the NSG, has no reference to testing, enrichment ban and preprocessing technology ban.

However, senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said, "We have given up our right to test forever."

Criticising the NSG waiver CPI leader D Raja said that India has become a subject of US strategy.

He said, "India has become a subject of US strategy and our opposition to N-deal will continue."

Speaking about the development, Congress leader Digvijay Singh has said that it is a historic day for India and the Prime Minister and team has achieved an impossible task.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's statement on moratorium is a part of the N-waiver received by India.

As per reports, Pranab's statement on Friday over India's commitment for non-proliferation played a crucial role in changing Austria's mind. Austria said they were among the last to yield.

Meanwhile, China has stressed on balancing energy needs and non-proliferation.

So, what does this mean for India? Essentially, it's a victory for Indian diplomacy and it brings India into international nuclear club.

What it means for India

  • Access to nuclear technology without signing CTBT, NPT
  • India can buy nuclear reactors from US, Russia, France
  • India will get access to nuclear fuel from world market
  • India will have access to civilian space technology

In brief:

  • Could be a major contributor to our energy security
  • Will provide 20,000 mw of electricity by 2020
  • Opens door for nuclear cooperation with other countries
  • India will enter the global mainstream of N-power
  • Provides for full civil nuclear energy cooperation.
  • Provides for development of strategic reserve of nuclear fuel.
  • India doesn't have to sign NPT or CTBT.
  • Does not affect India's right to conduct nuclear tests.
  • Will provide access to high technology denied for 30 years.
  • Will spur high-end manufacturing.

India will get access to nuclear technology without having signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty or Non Proliferation Treaty. It opens up nuclear commerce for India and it can buy nuclear reactors from Russia, France and USA.

India will get access to nuclear fuel from the international market and also civilian space technology.

Monday, September 1, 2008

ISRO bags launch orders for Italian, Algerian satellites

Antrix Corp Ltd, the marketing arm of the Indian Space research Organisation (ISRO),  has bagged launch orders from Algeria and Italy for earth observation satellites that will be put into orbit next year by the agency's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

The contract from the Algerian space agency is for the launch of its 200kg Alsat-2A, remote sensing satellite. For Antrix, this is the first ever contract from an African nation. Algeria retains the option to contract for the launch of a second satellite.

The Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, has contracted for the launch of its IMSAT satellite, which, incidentally will become the second satellite from this European country to be boosted into space by ISRO.  Earlier, in April 2007, ISRO launched the Agile, a 352kg scientific satellite for the same agency.

No financial details have been disclosed for these deals.

Along with the Algerian and Italian payloads, a 100kg satellite from Singapore's  Nanyang Technological University as well as the Cubesat, a three-satellite package from the Netherlands, would also piggyback on heavier Indian satellites, said KR Sridhara Murthi, managing director of Antrix.

Murthi also said his organisation was in talks with South African and Nigerian space agencies for contracting similar missions.  He also mentioned that Antrix was looking at ''bigger opportunities'' such as the launch of remote sensing satellites, with heavier payloads of around 800kg.

Thanks to the advantages that the PSLV offers, ISRO can carry satellites of up to 1,700kg into low-earth orbit at two-thirds the cost charged by firms such as International Launch Services, owned by Space Transport Inc. and two Russian organizations, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia.

Low-earth orbit is the region above earth between 200km and 2,000km, ideal to place earth observation or remote sensing satellites.

ISRO has only recently entered the global satellite manufacturing and launch industry, which is expected to grow to $145 billion (Rs6.3 trillion) over 10 years to 2016, from $116 billion in the 10 years to 2006, according to Paris-based research firm Euroconsult.

India to conduct third interceptor missile trial in November

India is preparing to conduct the third trial of its advanced interceptor missile in November from the Chandipur-on-sea interim test range in coastal Orissa, a top defence official said Friday.“Preparations are on to conduct the interceptor missile test for building an indigenous defence shield in early November. It is aimed at intercepting and destroying ballistic missiles from a long range,” defence scientist V.K. Saraswat told IANS here.

The configuration of the upcoming trial will be different from the previous one, conducted in December 2007, as the attempt this time is to approach higher kill altitude, with accurate interception.

“We have already conducted a test in endo-atmosphere at a distance of 48 km. We are aiming at much higher altitude in exo-atmosphere, which is 50-75 km above the earth,” said Saraswat, chief controller of research & development of the missile programme at the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO).

The 7.5-metre interceptor missile will be fired within seconds after an incoming missile is launched from the test range. The target missile will be a modified version of the Prithvi ballistic missile.

“The test will reinforce our capability in installing a two-layered ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield to protect vulnerable areas from an incoming enemy missile and strengthen our national security,” Saraswat said on the sidelines of a conference on ‘Networking and Network-centric Operations’, organised by the Computer Society of India.

The interceptor will be equipped with inertial navigation system and electro-mechanical actuators to enable it to perform critical manoeuvres required to engage the incoming missile during the latter’s terminal phase.

The first interception test of a missile was conducted successfully at an altitude of 50 km in exo-atmosphere in November 2006.

“With the third test, we will have the entire BMD capability to detect, intercept and destroy intermediate-range and inter-continental ballistic missiles in the 5,000 km (3,000 mile) coming from any country,” Saraswat added.

India had already demonstrated that it was capable of intercepting short-range targets in up to 2,000-2,500 km range.

The BMD gives India membership of the select club of Israel, Russia and the US in developing and possessing such technology once the system is rolled out.

The defence system’s tracking and fire control radars have been developed by DRDO in collaboration with Israel and France.