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Sep
25

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is strengthening its air defence in Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China by putting in place a series of special mountain and light-weight radars. Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal N A K Browne told reporters in the capital on Friday that different types of radars would be put in place along the 667-km LAC with China, the air defence of which is WAC’s responsibility. “The Air Force is keenly examining the option of special type of radars, which we call the mountain radars and we are also looking at Low Level Light Weight Radars (LLLWR). So there is a definite plan,” Browne said to a question on the future air defence systems along the LAC. The IAF’s move comes close on the heels of reports of recent incursions by Chinese military helicopters into Indian airspace. Browne said the IAF would put in place these radars in the next four to five years to make the air defence system along the LAC robust. “When I talk of operational infrastructure to be improved in the northern sector, the mountainous terrain is very tricky. Because you have huge peaks and normal conventional systems are very difficult to maintain there,” he said. Browne said the IAF had already given contracts for 19 of LLLWRs and that the WAC itself had some of these. “More are in the pipeline. They are coming starting from next year itself,” he added. Browne said the IAF also had the option of an indigenously developed LLLWR. At present, the IAF has placed along the LAC two Rohini radars developed by DRDO and manufactured by BEL.”One more Rohini radar is to be inducted next year and placed along the LAC,” he said. “These, I think, will take care of detection of any threats that come from across the LAC,” he added. Browne parried queries on the IAF’s response to Chinese helicopters violating Indian airspace in Ladakh, but he said India needed to keep talking to all its neighbours and at the same time maintain highest levels of military preparedness. “We do need to talk to everybody…every one of our neighbours and at the same time keep our gun powers dry. We should maintain our preparedness at the highest levels,” he said. The WAC chief also admitted that the IAF was fully aware of what was going on along the LAC, but reiterated that there were issues such as differing perceptions of the LAC on both sides. On the recent remarks of IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik that India’s Air Force fleet was just one-third of China’s, he said the IAF was extremely well-balanced on all fronts such as numbers, technology, modern platforms and equipment. “It is not just a question of numbers, there are other issues such as technology and capability too,” he said, dismissing the Chinese fleet strength as a threat. {content @ times of india}

Sep
25
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Sep
24

NASA on Thursday revealed that India’s maiden lunar mission Chandrayaan-I had traced water molecules on the moon’s surface. It also “thanked” ISRO for making the discovery possible. “We want to thank ISRO for making the discovery possible. Moon till now was thought to be a very dry surface with lot of rocks,” NASA said in a press conference. Earlier in the day, as new trickled out about Indian maiden lunar mission tracing water molecules on the moon’s surface, scientists rejoiced at the discovery and hope that it will pave the way for growing vegetation in the earth’s natural satellite in future. “I am really very happy to know that the NASA payload on Chandrayaan-1 has traced water. If it is true then it will pave the way for growing vegetation in moon surface in five or 10 years from now,” renowned scientist Y S Rajan said. “Even if there is no water in its complete H20 format, still it’s a great feat. It will help make human venturing to moon a more enriching experience. Those going to moon can combine the molecule and get water. “They can also break it and get oxygen which is a major problem for scientists in space,” said Rajan, who has written the book India 2020: A Vision for the New Millennium, along with former president A P J Abdul Kalam. He said India’s moon mission was a “great success” that proved ISRO’s capability and efficiency in managing key space projects. “We have received loads of data from moon via our mission. It has certainly enriched the global scientific community.”
“The moon has distinct signatures of water,” top American scientist Carle Pieters confirmed on Thursday. “The evidence of water molecules on the surface of the moon was found by the moon mineralogy mapper (M3) of the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on board Chandrayaan-1,” M3 principal investigator Pieters said in a paper published in the journal Science. Amitabha Ghosh, space scientist at NASA, said: “This is a very, very important finding… If somehow water was found on the moon, you could use that water right out there. You could extract it.” “Right now, we don’t know what temperature it is, and whether there is a cost effective way of extracting it,” he added. Mila Mitra, a scientist formerly associated with NASA said: “This is truly significant because it will help find any trace of life on moon.” “Now you will see more money being invested in moon missions. There might be manned moon missions. Now you will see more emphasis on such endeavours,” she added.
S Chandrasekaran, another leading scientist, said: “Yes, we are very happy. I was not part of the mission so cannot give technical details but yes, the discovery is very significant. It is great and very important.” Last year, former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan had told the news agency: “For me personally, if Chandrayaan-1 manages to find evidence of water on the moon, then that would be the biggest achievement.” Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The spacecraft carried five Indian instruments and six from abroad, including M3 and another from NASA, three from the European Space Agency (ESA), and one from Bulgaria.
{content @ times of india}

Sep
24

Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said on Wednesday that India’s “aircraft strength is inadequate and is just one third of China’s air force.” He said it would take at least three years for the situation to change as the IAF was in the process to augment its inventory. Talking to the media at the South Western Air Command during his two-day visit to Gujarat, the IAF chief said: “IAF is known worldwide as a professional organisation for its capabilities. But India’s aircraft strength is just one third of China’s. Our present aircraft strength is inadequate — it is not enough.” “China is one of the many challenges, including terrorism, a low spectrum conflict that India is facing in the current geo-political situation. The country was seized of the problems and taking multi-pronged measures ranging from diplomatic to economic to face the challenges besides developing capabilities. We are playing it cool. This is also a part of the strategy,” he said. On reports of incursions by Chinese troops, he said as far as IAF was concerned, there were no incursions anywhere. He also sought to allay fears by saying that adequate deployment has been made on the border. “The coordination between Indian armed forces and intelligence agencies is much better now than what it was a year ago,” Naik said. The IAF chief said contracts have been signed between Russia and India for a fifth generation fighter and transport aircraft. “India proposes to buy at least 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMCA) like F-18, F-16, Raphael and C-150 Hercules. One Airborne Warning & Control System (AWACS) has already arrived while two are expected by next year. Besides, we intend to buy heavy transport aircraft (global inquiry floated) and medium lift helicopters,” said Naik. {content @ times of india}

Sep
23
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Sep
23

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has plans to launch its GSLV III Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III by 2009-10. The new machine, when ready, is expected to help India increase its share of the $2-billion global satellite launch market. Isro chairman Madhavan Nair said that GSLV III would double payload capacity to about 4,000-5,000 kg. The operational target is set for 2009-10. Isro has been paying about $70 million (Rs 280 crore) for carrying a payload of 3,000 kg to foreign players. Moreover, the space agency is looking to grab a slice of the $2-billion global satellite launch market with GSLV III. It has so far earned revenues of about $30 million from commercial launches of satellites. “The new launch vehicle can give better reliability and lesser operational costs because it will employ fewer propulsive stages,” Nair said, adding that the various substations are currently undergoing ground tests. GSLV III is an entirely new three-stage launch vehicle and is not derived from Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV Mark I and II series. It is intended to launch heavy satellites into geostationary orbit, and will allow India to become less dependent on foreign rockets for heavy lifting. According to officials, GSLV III is slated to take into orbit two-three Indian communication satellites apart from commercial ones. They added that the vehicle would be completely dedicated to Isro’s missions in the first couple of years. The investment going into building GSLV-III is about Rs 2,500 crore compared to Rs 1,500 spent on GSLV I and Rs 336 crore for developing the cryogenic engine for GSLV II. Isro currently uses GSLV I, which can carry payloads of up to 2,250 kg, to launch the bigger satellites or outsources to foreign rockets. GSLV II, with completely indigenous cryogenic engine, will take off when it launches Chandrayaan into orbit later this year.

Sep
23
Sep
23

India successfully launched its 16th remote-sensing satellite Oceansat-2 and six nano European satellites in 1,200 seconds with the help of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV- C-14) from Sriharikota on Wednesday. The launch was carried out as per schedule at 11.51 am and ended at 12.06 pm. The 44.4-metre tall, 230-tonne Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) freed itself from the launch pad at the spaceport and lifted itself up, lugging the 960-kg Oceansat-2 and the six nano satellites all together weighing 20 kg. In copybook style, the rocket first flung out Oceansat-2 at an altitude of 720 km above the earth in a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), followed by the four nano satellites – also called Cubesats, each weighing one kg. The remaining two, each weighing eight kg, were attached to the rocket’s fourth stage. Of the six nano satellites, four are from Germany, one is from Switzerland and one from Turkey. The seventh is a big one, India’s Oceansat-2 weighing 960 kg. Soon after the satellites were put into orbit, Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) satellite tracking centres started monitoring them. Vice-President Hamid Ansari who was present at the Satish Dhavan Space Centre SHAR, congratulated the scientists and technocrats over this splendid achievement for the nation. Seven satellites in 1,200 seconds. The launch is similar to the one in April 2008 when ISRO launched 10 satellites. The sequence of ejection is very similar to the April 2008 launch featuring one big satellite – Cartosat-2A and nine other nano satellites – 10 in all: once the PSLV takes off and reaches a certain height and velocity, it will first launch the Oceansat-2 and a few seconds later, the first of four nano satellites. Every 10-12 seconds, the PSLV will launch four satellites one after the other. (Two will remain with the fourth stage). “The rocket re-orients itself everytime a satellite is to be placed in orbit. The re-orientation ensures one satellite doesn’t collide with another. The rocket effectively re-orients itself four to five times in the space of one flight,” a scientist explained. The brain of the rocket would have made all calculations in advance – from ejection of first satellite to the fifth. The exact moment of ejection and then re-orientation for the next ejection is worked out in advance. All mathematical calculations on the ground, launch sequence and flight path have to work to zero error. “There is no room for error. The rocket has to be in flight till the last minute which means all systems on board have to function to perfection. Once the first and second stages separate, and the fourth stage (the engines) stop, the ejection process begins until every satellite circulates in orbit,” an official said. Oceansat-2, India’s second satellite to study oceans as well as interaction of oceans and atmosphere, is the 16th remote sensing satellite of India. It is in the shape of a cuboid with two solar panels projecting from its sides. The satellite will map fishing zones around India, measure ocean surface windspeeds as well as atmospheric temperature and humidity. This will be PSLV’s 16th mission. From September 1993 to April 2009, PSLV has been launched 15 times. Fourteen launches have been successful continuously while only one has failed so far. ISRO spokesperson S Satish told TOI: “It is known that PSLV has been a very successful launch vehicle. Countries realise it is a vehicle or rocket very well suited for launch of nano satellites. We were on to our 16th mission with PSLV and Germany and Swtizerland were looking for a mission. Our needs coincided and that’s how we have the six nano satellites.” In the April 2008 launch, eight nano satellites were built by universities and research institutions in Canada and Germany. {content @ times of india}

Sep
23

With the 48-hour countdown proceeding smoothly, things are getting set for the lift-off of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV- C14) from the spaceport at Sriharikota at 11.51 a.m. on Wednesday, September 23. The PSLV- C14 will put India’s Oceansat-2 and six nano satellites from abroad in orbit.“Everything is okay so far. Things are working as per plan,” said M.Y.S. Prasad, Range Operations Director for the mission. “We started the countdown at 9 a.m. on Monday. We keep a couple of hours as reserve,” he explained. The filling of the liquid fuel in the rocket’s fourth stage had been completed. The second stage would be filled with liquid fuel beginning from Tuesday evening, said Dr. Prasad, who is also the Associate Director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. S. Satish, ISRO spokesman, said: “The weather is benign. The countdown operations are progressing satisfactorily. The launch will take place between 11.51 a.m. and 12.06 p.m. on Wednesday.” The PSLV is a four-stage vehicle with liquid fuel in its second and fourth stages. Solid fuel propels its first and third stages. It is a core-alone version of the PSLV that will put Oceansat-2 and six nano satellites in orbit. The core-alone vehicle does not have the six booster rockets that are strapped to the first stage in the standard version. The four stages of the 44-metre tall PSLV-C14, weighing 230 tonnes, were stacked up in a gigantic structure called the Mobile Service Tower (MST) in the first launch pad on the shores of the Bay of Bengal at Sriharikota. A few hours before the rocket’s ignition, the MST, which weighs 3,200 tonnes, will roll slowly to its parking place on 32 wheels, eight in each corner, on a twin rail-track. The PSLV-C14 will then stand majestically on its launch pedestal. While the Oceansat-2 weighs 960 kg, four of the nano satellites called Cubesat-1, 2, 3 and 4 weigh one kg each. The remaining two – Rubinsat 9.1 and 9.2 – weigh 8 kg each. The fourth stage of the PSLV-C14 will put all of them in orbit at an altitude of 720 km. Oceansat-2 will fly out first followed by the four Cubesats. The two Rubinsats will remain permanently attached to the rockets’ fourth stage which means that the fourth stage will go into orbit. Oceansat-2 has three payloads – ocean colour monitor (OCM), a scatterometer and a Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmospheric Studies (ROSA) from Italy. These payloads will help in studying oceans’ colour, probing the important role played by the oceans in shaping the earth’s climate/weather, researching the interaction of the oceans with the atmosphere, estimating water vapour content in the atmosphere and so on. The satellite will also help in identifying schools of fish, predicting the onset of monsoons, and monitoring coastal water pollution. The six nano satellites, built by universities in Europe, will test innovative spacecraft technologies. Vice-President Hamid Ansari will witness the launch at Sriharikota.

Sep
22

After having served the Navy for over 30 years, the Indian Naval Ship INS Bedi was today decommissioned at Naval Dockyard in south Mumbai. Rear Admiral Sunil Lanba, Flag Officer Commanding Maharshtra and Gujarat Area, hauled down the Naval Ensign and lowered the decommissioning pennant, bidding adieu to the ship. Bedi, the third ship of the 19 Mine Counter Measure Squadron based in Mumbai, was acquired from the erstwhile Soviet Union and commissioned at Riga in USSR on April 27,1959 by I K Gujaral, the then Ambassador of India to USSR, with Lieutenant Commander S N Chopra as her first Captain. With her motto as “Lead to protect”, the ship was entrusted with the daunting task of going into ‘harm’s way’ to clear the channel off mines, thus making way for the formidable warships of the Navy to pass safely.

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