News Article | May 27, 2017
Quora Questions are part of a partnership between Newsweek and Quora, through which we'll be posting relevant and interesting answers from Quora contributors throughout the week. Read more about the partnership here. Will we have landed on Mars in the coming 50 years? Trending: Donald Trump's Twitter Has Been Unusually Quiet, But Will It Last? It depends on five distinct entities that could lead the way and accomplish that goal. Each one has lots of supporters and certainly a number of detractors and resistance to overcome. The first three are government agencies: NASA, CNSA (Chinese National Space Agency), and ESA (European Space Agency). Fifty years is a long time: long enough for any of these slow-moving but highly capable agencies, each with human spaceflight capability (well, ESA is working on it, but it's only a matter of time now, and you're offering fifty years) to scale up to a human mission to Mars. They might even cooperate with one another or with other space agencies (Roscosmos is not going to take the lead but is an obviously strong partner; ISRO a less obvious but highly desirable one; there are plenty of others). Don't miss: Two Men Killed Trying to Stop Anti-Muslim Rant on Oregon Train The next two are private firms, SpaceX and Blue Origin, inspired and driven by their visionary owners/leaders Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. Either of these firms could send a human mission to Mars long before any space agency can, if they want to do so and are not constrained by finances. Jeff Bezos has lots more money than Elon Musk, but Bezos is content to play the slow-and-steady turtle when folks talk of a “race” to Mars. His focus is on cislunar space development first, then Mars when the cislunar infrastructure is in place, at least to some degree. Elon Musk burns with a passion to colonize Mars (yay!) but he also isn't concerned with any sort of “race” to Mars. He'd be delighted to see others get to Mars first, and has openly said so, if only “others” would hurry up and get busy. But he faces financial constraints that slow down his R&D and rocket building efforts. Musk doesn't seem too concerned with cislunar space infrastructure, his plans are more similar to a Martin Marietta “Mars Direct” style of mission, pushing very quickly past “explore and do science” missions into full-steam settlement mode. But he's taking financial risks to do so, risks that may not pan out. If Tesla or the Gigafactory or the Boring Company flop badly, any one of them could pull all the others down, including SpaceX. The fate of rapid Mars exploration and colonization might rest on whether Tesla’s new trucks sell well in 2018! (Okay, maybe not quite that delicate a financial position, but you get the idea.) Most popular: As President Trump Returns to U.S., Efforts to Counter Russia Probe Fallout Intensify So: fifty years from now, Elon Musk will have sent humans to Mars or died/gone bankrupt in the attempt. If all goes well for SpaceX, they will have a crew of humans on the Red Planet in just ten or twelve years… but there's a lot that can delay this. Fifty years from now, if Elon has failed somehow, Jeff Bezos will have sent humans to Mars, but only recently, and all in good time. Thirty or forty years is about right, I imagine. Fifty years from now, a NASA/Boeing human mission may have visited Mars two or three times over a span of six years, left flags and footprints, taken a ton or two of geologic samples, and declared it all a success and gone home to Earth, all depending entirely on the notoriously fickle will of the American Congress and constantly-changing presidential administrations. Can this happen? Oh certainly. Is it likely? Certainly not.
News Article | March 20, 2017
Since humans first landed on the moon, they have been trying to do more than just exploring the lunar surface. Furthering this dream will be a global competition known as Google's Lunar XPrize. This competition proposes an experiment by brewing beer with yeast on the moon. This test is to prove the survival of yeast in the space and how it will react in the gravity of the moon. The winning prize is $20 million and currently, four of the best teams are a part of this competition. Among these four teams, one is TeamIndus from India, which is planning to land on the moon and bag the prize. In 2011, at the beginning of the competition, there were 30 teams of which only 4 remain post-elimination. Apart from TeamIndus, the other teams include MoonExpress, which is led by Naveen Jain. The third team is SpaceIL and comprises three Israeli engineers. The fourth team is Synergy Moon. The fifth team from Hakuto, Japan, will be sending a rover on the spacecraft of the Indian team. The teams will be launching their spacecraft for the moon expedition on Dec. 28, 2017, according to reports. TeamIndus, which is led by Rahul Narayan, is preparing hard for the journey ahead. In 2012, Narayan started working toward the moon mission and later left his job and shifted to Bangalore to pursue his work. TeamIndus is one of the first privately funded company from a developing country to take part in a global competition such as Google's Lunar XPrize. TeamIndus needs $70 million for the project, but it has only managed to arrange $16 million. It has taken investments from family, friends, and entrepreneurs. The team plans to arrange money through corporate sponsorship and crowd funding. The team also has unplanned ideas to develop another satellite program or solar drones after the completion of the global competition. What is surprising though is that the team will not be getting any support from the government of India. Jitendra Singh, who is Minister of State in Prime Minister's office, stated that TeamIndus is a privately-owned group and so it will not receive monetary aid from the Indian government. He also clarified that the mission would not be administered by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). However, it still remains to be seen whether the team can manage to get hold of the funding before the final date of the mission and if it will be able to beat the other contenders. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.
News Article | May 5, 2017
India has successfully launched a new communications satellite for South Asia from Sriharikota space centre. The satellite, funded entirely by India, is aimed at helping regional countries boost their telecommunication and broadcasting services. Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan will benefit from this satellite. But Pakistan has opted out from the initiative. In a tweet, Mr Modi congratulated the scientists on the launch, saying he was "very proud of them". The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) took three years to build the satellite, which was launched by its reliable Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India's neighbours can use to improve their communications services. Each country will get access to at least one transponder, but they will have to develop their own ground infrastructure. The satellite is also capable of providing crucial communication links between the nations in times of natural disasters. Mr Modi has called this satellite an "invaluable gift" to India's neighbours. This "gift" from India has no parallels in the space-faring world. All other current regional consortia are commercial for-profit enterprises. So it seems Mr Modi is placing the ISRO in a new orbit by providing this space-based platform that would have cost the participating nations almost $1,500m (£1,158m). According to the government, the satellite will enable a full range of services to India's neighbours in telecommunication and broadcasting areas such as television, direct-to-home (DTH) services, education, telemedicine, weather forecasting and disaster management support. There is no doubt the country is actively trying to counter China's growing influence over its neighbours through this satellite. But in the 21st Century space race in Asia, China already has the first-mover advantage. A South Asia satellite will help the countries co-ordinate rescue efforts and have a secure line of communication during disasters.
News Article | February 15, 2017
People watch as India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) carrying 104 satellites in a single mission lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, on Feb. 15, 2017. —Two years after India became the first Asian nation to send a probe to Mars, the country’s space agency can claim another record: The most satellites launched with a single rocket. At 9:28 a.m. Tuesday morning, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the Bay of Bengal, carrying 104 satellites from seven countries. By 10 a.m., all had successfully been inserted into orbit, and India had surpassed a bar previously set by a Russian launch of 37 satellites in 2014. “This remarkable feat by @isro is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation,” the country’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, tweeted. “India salutes our scientists.” In recent years, India has gained a reputation for reliable, inexpensive satellite launches; Tuesday’s launch positions it to gain an even bigger share of this fast-growing market. “India offers launch costs that are fifty percent cheaper than the rest of the world,” Pallava Bagla, a science editor with the privately run Indian TV channel NDTV, told Al Jazeera last June, so if SpaceX, Arianespace or NASA can do it at $100, India is willing to do it at $50.” If anything, that may be an understatement. On Wednesday, Moneycontrol.com’s Sidhartha Shukla reported that launching a satellite through SpaceX could cost around $60 million, but “ISRO charged an average of [$3 million] per satellite between 2013 and 2015.” ISRO’s strong position in the satellite-launch market had an inauspicious start. The first PSLV, launched in 1993, failed because of software glitches. By persevering with the program, ISRO was able to take advantage of the country’s talented, but relatively low-wage, workforce to bring launch costs down. Ramabhadran Aravamudan, former director of the ISRO Satellite Center in Bangalore, attributed India’s low launch prices to “cheaper labor costs and a state-led model that doesn't involve ‘industries with their own profit margins,’ ” CNN reported. This approach runs counter to the United State's current strategy of turning orbital spaceflight over to private firms as a means to bring costs down. But ISRO has nonetheless found plenty of customers, and managed to capitalize on another recent trend: the development of lightweight, inexpensive “CubeSats” and “SmallSats” that can be packed into a single rocket. Tuesday’s launch delivered 103 of these smaller satellites – 88 of which belonged to the San Francisco-based imaging company Planet – into orbit, along with a larger environmental satellite. Last year, private launches like these brought in 230 rupees crore (about $3.4 million) for ISRO’s commercial arm. The experience has also enabled ISRO to set more ambitious goals, on a tight budget. The country’s Mangalyaan Mars Orbiter reached the Red Planet in 2014 at a cost of $75 million – less than the budget for the 2013 Sci-Fi thriller “Gravity.” “They're not at the level of the Big 4,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told The Christian Science Monitor last May, referring to the space programs of the US, Russia, China, and Europe. ”But they’re pretty darn good.”
News Article | February 15, 2017
A rocket loaded down with a record number of satellites just launched on its way to orbit. The Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) blasted off on Tuesday at 10:58 p.m. ET to bring 104 satellites to space, the largest clutch of spacecraft ever launched by one rocket. SEE ALSO: 88 satellites will launch on Valentine's Day to image the entire Earth every day This launch beats out the previously record set by a Russian rocket that brought 37 satellites to orbit in 2014. The PSLV's main payload is an Earth-mapping satellite for India, but its largest haul is the 88 small Dove satellites for the Earth-observing company Planet. Those satellites, once functioning in orbit, will allow Planet to image the entire Earth every day, when combined with data beamed back to engineers from 12 other Doves and RapidEye satellites operated by the U.S. company. Imaging the whole Earth every day has been the company's goal (nicknamed "Mission One") since it was founded in 2010. "We've had a lot of launches under our belts but this is the one that we feel really defines Mission One," Mike Safyan, Planet's director of launch and regulatory affairs, said in an interview before launch. "It's a pretty special feeling to think back [to] all those years ago when we were a scrappy team inside a garage dreaming about this day, and now this day has finally come." Being able to photograph the entire Earth every day will allow customers using Planet's data to keep close track of a number of things. One possible use of the data is in tracking deforestation, Safyan said. Instead of just seeing one area every couple of months, tracking changes to a specific part of the world on a daily basis will allow people on the ground to actually do something about any illegal deforestation occurring. "If everyday you're getting an alert where trees are going down where they aren't allowed to be harvested or cut down, then you can actually go and send someone and do something about it," Safyan added. This marks the 15th Dove launch for Planet and will give the company a total of 100 of these satellites in orbit.
News Article | February 15, 2017
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India successfully launched 104 satellites in a single mission on Wednesday, setting what its space agency says is a world record of launching the most satellites at one go. Of the 104, 101 are foreign satellites to serve international customers as the South Asian nation seeks a bigger share of the $300 billion global space industry. "This is a great moment for each and everyone of us. Today we have created history," said project director B. Jayakumar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his congratulations on the launch conducted by the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) that went off smoothly and was carried live on national TV news channels. "This remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation," he said. "India salutes our scientists." Modi is bullish on India's space program and has repeatedly praised the efforts of scientists who three years ago pulled off a low-cost mission to send a probe to orbit Mars that succeeded at the first attempt. ISRO's low prices attracted international customers to launch 75 satellites last year from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. The launch of PSLV-C37 in a single payload, including the Cartosat-2 series and 103 co-passenger satellites, together weighed over 650 kg (1,433 lb) Out of 101 nano satellites, 96 were from the United States and one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates.
News Article | February 15, 2017
Celebrations erupted among scientists at the southern spaceport of Sriharikota as the head of India's Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced all the satellites had been ejected as planned. "My hearty congratulations to the ISRO team for this success," the agency's director Kiran Kumar told those gathered in an observatory to track the progress of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately congratulated the scientists for the successful launch which smashes a record previously held by Russia. "This remarkable feat ... is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation," Modi wrote on Twitter. The rocket took off at 9:28am (0358 GMT) and cruised at a speed of 27,000 kilometres (16,777 miles) per hour, ejecting all the 104 satellites into orbit in around 30 minutes, according to ISRO. The rocket's main cargo was a 714 kilogram (1,574 pounds) satellite for Earth observation but it was also loaded with 103 smaller "nano satellites", weighing a combined 664 kilograms. The smallest weighed only 1.1 kilogram. Nearly all of the nano satellites are from other countries, including Israel, Kazakhstan, Switzerland and 96 from the United States. Around 90 of the satellites are from a San Francisco-based company, Planet Inc. each weighing around 4.5 kilograms that will send Earth images from space. Only three satellites belonged to India. Scientists sat transfixed as they watched the progress of the rocket on monitors until the last payload was ejected, and then began punching the air in triumph and hugging each other. This was PSLV's 39th succesful mission, known as India's space workhorse. In 2015, it carried 23 satellites to space. The launch means India now holds the record for launching the most satellites in one go, surpassing Russia which launched 39 satellites in a single mission in June 2014. And it is another feather in the cap for ISRO which sent an unmanned rocket to orbit Mars in 2013 at a cost of just $73 million, compared with NASA's Maven Mars mission which had a $671 million price tag. ISRO is also mulling the idea of missions to Jupiter and Venus. The business of putting commercial satellites into space for a fee is growing as phone, Internet and other companies, as well as countries, seek greater and more high-tech communications. India has carved out a reputation as a reliable low-cost option, relying in part on its famed skill of "jugaad"—creating a cheap alternative solution. Experts say much of its credibility stems from India's successful launch of the Mars orbiter, which gave it an edge over its rivals in the space race. "India is proving to be a very viable option because of the cost and the reliability factor," said Ajay Lele, a senior fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. "India has been doing these launches successfully and has established itself as a very reliable player." Mathieu J Weiss, a liaison officer for France's CNES national space agency who is currently in India, said ISRO had pulled off a major feat. "It's a great technical challenge to launch so many satellites at once into orbit on the right trajectory so that they don't make contact with each other," he told AFP. Weiss said India had become a major player in the space race by making itself so competitive with its low costs and by working with private companies which are space specialists. "India has become a space power in its own right in recent years," he added. Last June, India set a national record after it successfully launched a rocket carrying 20 satellites, including 13 from the US. Modi has often hailed India's budget space technology, quipping in 2014 that a rocket that launched four foreign satellites into orbit had cost less to make than Hollywood film "Gravity". Explore further: India to launch 103 satellites in record single mission
News Article | February 16, 2017
The project could help future space explorers create their own chemicals and drugs on demand, allowing them to maximise the efficiency of their launch payloads by taking raw chemical ingredients with them rather than specific medications. They could then use digital chemistry technology to make drugs and other materials as required. A DIDO2 nano-satellite containing an experiment designed by Professor Lee Cronin, the University's Regius Chair of Chemistry, was one of 103 launched into space this morning on an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket. Professor Cronin and his research team developed the launch in partnership with SpacePharma, a company which specialises in providing scientists with access to microgravity environments. The mission, part of the ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle programme, was successfully launched just before 4am GMT/ 9am local time at Sriharikota, around 80km from Chennai. The experiment is a continuation of previous research from the Cronin Group which aims to digitise chemistry and make it possible for chemical compounds of all kinds to be 'printed' on demand. During the experiment, the research team will remotely activate a microfluidic device inside the satellite which will bring together chemical agents. Using an onboard microscope, they will be able to watch the agents react, forming crystals of a drug currently being developed for use in as a possible anti-cancer treatment. Professor Cronin said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to literally take the Cronin Group's research to new heights. Low- and zero-gravity environments offer a wide range of new opportunities for science, and we're excited to see how this experiment progresses. "Imagine you are on living on Mars and you need access to a drug that you have not taken with you, this approach might allow you to use a digital blueprint and make the drug on demand from a minimal set of chemicals. "This collaboration is exciting since we are going to be able to do a digitally controlled chemical experiment in space that produces a complex organic molecule that is part of a class of anti-cancer drugs under study in my laboratory. We chose this molecule as it complex one-pot three step assembly and ends by producing the drug candidate in highly pure crystalline form." Yossi Yamin, founder and CEO of SpacePharma, said: "We are really excited that Professor Cronin is using our nano-satellite for his digital chemical experiments and we hope this will pave the way for developing chemistry in space including drug manufacturing and testing." Explore further: India to launch 103 satellites in record single mission
News Article | February 15, 2017
India launches more than 100 satellites into orbit (AP) — India's space agency said it successfully launched more than 100 foreign nano satellites into orbit Wednesday aboard a single rocket. The Indian Space Research Organization said the nano satellites — those weighing less than 10 kilograms (22 pounds) — were sent into orbit from southern India. It said the launching of the 104 satellites was a record, overtaking Russia's feat of sending 37 satellites in a single launch in 2014. The satellites belong to various companies in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan, according to the ISRO. "All 104 satellites were successfully placed in orbit," the Press Trust of India news agency quoted ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar as saying. They included an Indian Earth observation satellite. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that the "remarkable feat by ISRO is yet another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation." India has been striving to become a player in the multibillion-dollar space launch market, and has successfully placed light satellites into orbit in recent years. It hopes to eventually send astronauts into space. In September 2014, India successfully guided a spacecraft into orbit around Mars. Only the United States, the former Soviet Union and the European Space Agency had been able to previously do that.
News Article | February 21, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico, Feb. 21, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- SolAero Technologies Corp. (SolAero), a leading provider of high efficiency solar cells, solar panels, and composite structural products, extends our sincere congratulations to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on its...