Saturday, February 15, 2014

ISRO unveils space capsule that will fly Indian astronauts

ISRO unveils space capsule that will fly Indian astronauts Pallava Bagla After its Mars mission, India now aims to puts humans into space. The first steps towards flying Indian astronauts into space could be taken in weeks. The Indian astronaut capsule has been unveiled for the very first time. If all goes as per plan it will be tested in the first experimental flight of India's latest monster rocket, the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III is likely to be tested as early as May or June from Sriharikota. The GSLV Mk-3 could see this astronaut module being flown into space for the very first time, but in a sub-orbital flight. In its first test flight no crew or any animals are likely to be flown. "Only re-entry technologies and flight dynamics will be tested and the capsule will be recovered 400-500 kilometers away from Port Blair in the Bay of Bengal," Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K Radhakrishnan told NDTV. ISRO has been dreaming of putting an Indian into space using an Indian rocket launched from India soil. ISRO has sought funding worth Rs. 12,500 crores from the government for the program. It says once the approval comes, an Indian astronaut can be flown in a low Earth orbit in about seven years from the time the approval comes from the government. When it happens, India's human space capsule could be sent on a seven day mission for two-three astronauts in a low Earth orbit of 300-400 kilometers above earth. Till date only Russia, USA and China have successfully flown astronauts into space with the latest entrant being China in 2003. The outer skeleton of Indian human space capsule has been fabricated by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bangalore and was handed over to ISRO which developed it. HAL says the first crew module will be further equipped with systems necessary for crew support, navigation, guidance and control systems by ISRO for experimentation in the forthcoming GSLV-MK3 launch. "HAL takes pride in the India's space programmes and our Aerospace Division has produced this Crew Module in a record time to meet the requirements of ISRO", said Dr RK Tyagi, Chairman, HAL. While the government has hesitated to clear a hefty bill of Rs. 12,500 crores as desired by ISRO for its human space flight program, but so that there are no delays in the development work the Indian government has already sanctioned Rs. 145 crores for the development of what it calls 'critical technologies'.

Monday, February 3, 2014

At Jammu new science initiatives announced by PM Manmohan Singh as he prepares to hand over `baton’

At Jammu new science initiatives announced by PM Manmohan Singh as he prepares to hand over `baton’

New Delhi, February 3, 2014

Pallava Bagla

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at 101st session of the Indian Science Congress being held for the very first time in Jammu a part of the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, where some 8000 scientists have gathered for this annual event.

The Prime Minister highlighted some aspects in his speech: 

“To do science, someone must pay for it. We must increase our annual expenditure on science and technology to at least 2% of our GDP. This has to come from both government and industry. In countries such as South Korea, where a high percentage of the GDP goes to science, the contribution of Korean industry is indeed very significant. I am happy to say that our Department of Biotechnology has activated private public partnerships in R&D in biotechnology. I appeal to the corporate sector to join hands with the government in realizing the goals that we have set for more our nation.
A major research funding organization, the National Science and Engineering Research Board, has just started functioning. This Board is managed by scientists and it has simplified funding procedures. We expect much more from it in supporting individual scientists as well as groups of scientists in creating small units devoted to crucial sectors at the very frontiers of science.
India currently occupies an enviable position in the field of atomic energy and high-energy physics. Indian nuclear scientists are attracting global interest in their effort to develop a Fast Breeder Reactor. I expect the prototype under construction in Kalpakkam to be completed this year. It will be a great day for Indian science and technology because we will be one of the few countries in the world with leadership in a completely new area of nuclear technology that can contribute non-polluting electrical power.
I recognise and we all recognise that the Government must also focus on creating new opportunities for our bright and socially conscious scientists. To ensure food security and to improve land and water productivity, we have to launch a national drive for an ever-green revolution. This will test the ingenuity of our agricultural scientists. Climate-resilient agriculture and modern bio-technological tools hold great promise. Use of bio-technology has great potential to improve yields. While safety must be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt. crops. Our government remains committed to promoting the use of these new technologies for agricultural development. I urge our scientific community to increase communication and engagement with society at large in explaining socially productive applications of technology alternatives and for improving the productivity of small and medium enterprises.
Our Government has invested in many areas to ensure that India remains at the cutting edge of science. I am happy to announce another National Mission on High Performance Computing with an outlay of Rs. 4500 crores. We are also considering establishment of a National Geographical Information System with an outlay of about Rs. 3000 crores. A National Mission on Teaching to enhance the esteem of our teachers is also being launched.
I am also happy to announce that India will partner the international scientific community in the establishment of some of the world’s major R&D projects. In the Gravitational Wave experiment, India intends to host the third detector. A Neutrino-based Observatory is proposed to be established in Tamil Nadu at a cost of about Rs 1450 crores. India is also joining the famous CERN institute as an associate member.

Before I close, I would like to stress on something that has troubled me for some time. I worry some time that science has not yet got its proper due in our value system. I would like science to be high in our value system so that our entire society provides both moral and material support for its development. This is not only necessary because our future depends on it, but also because instilling a scientific attitude and temper in our population is essential for developing a progressive, rational and humane society. I do hope that our scientists and educators will ponder seriously on how we can achieve this transformation in the mind set of our society.  This year, our Government selected Professor CNR Rao for the highest civilian award of Bharat Ratna. Let this be only the first step in creating an environment that gives birth to many more Bharat Ratnas in the field of Indian science. That is my wish that is my prayer.”