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India Planning to Launch 32 Space Missions This Year

ISRO has also tied up with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide technical support for establishing an integrated control room for emergency management, Sivan stated

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SpaceX Dragon
ISRO has also tied up with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide technical support for establishing an integrated control room for emergency management, Sivan stated. VOA

India is planning to launch 32 space missions in 2019, a top space official said here.

“The year 2019 promises to be challenging to the Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) community with 32 planned missions,” its chairman K. Sivan said in a message to his employees on New Year on Tuesday.

The missions include the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 to land on the moon with lander and rover.

The Rs 800-crore lunar mission will the 25th from the second launch pad of the space port at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90km northeast of Chennai.

India’s maiden human space mission in 2021-22, Gaganyaan, will also be pursued this year, Sivan said in a first-of-its-kind New Year message from the space agency top executive to its staff.

“Gaganyaan activities will go in full steam to accomplish the various development and qualification milestones,” the Chairman said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of Gaganyaan on August 15 last year has allowed the space agency to fulfill its dream of undertaking a human spaceflight programme, Sivan said.

The pad abort test held on July 5, 2018 to test the escape system of the crew module has given ISRO confidence to pursue the human space mission, he added.

The space agency is also aiming to re-instate its microwave remote sensing capability through the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) series and hopes to attain geo-imaging capability through Geo Imaging Satellite (GISAT) series.

“The country will meet the high throughput bandwidth requirement of Digital India and also in-flight connectivity with the launch of GSAT-20,” Sivan said.

Sriharikota: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s communication satellite GSAT-9 on-board GSLV-F09 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on Friday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has termed the satellite as India’s “space gift for South Asia”. PTI

The space agency will enhance remote sensing data for crop production estimation to cover 10 additional crops and provide inputs for water and energy security.

“It is planned to improve the payload capability of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and its variants,” he added.

Marking the birth centenary of the founding father of India’s space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, ISRO will host a year-long celebration from August 12, with national and international events such as fellowships, scholarships at universities.
Recounting the year gone by, Sivan said 2018 had many firsts for ISRO, which undertook 16 missions, of which seven were accomplished in 35 days.

“The national confidence in ISRO is reflected in the highest ever allocation of about Rs 30,000-crore for 23 new and continuation programmes in a single year,” Sivan said.

Among the space agency’s achievements in 2018 were launch of the heaviest satellite GSAT-29 (3,423 kg) on November 14 and building the heaviest communication satellite GSAT-11 (5,854 kg), launched on December 5 onboard the Arianespace space agency’s rocket from French Guiana on the north Atlantic coast of South America.

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ISRO has received approval for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), along with a dedicated launch pad, and is working on reusable launch vehicle development, Sivan noted.

“The approval of 30 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and 10 GSLV Mk-III operational flights, along with development of semicryogenic stage, uprated cryogenic stage and all-electric spacecraft propulsion will accelerate ISRO towards new capabilities, Sivan added.

The space agency has been working on national programmes for the socio-economic security and sustainable development, including that of national geo-spatial energy information system, enhanced earth observational capabilities, real-time disaster management like during floods in Kerala and north eastern states last year.

ISRO has also tied up with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide technical support for establishing an integrated control room for emergency management, Sivan stated.

The space agency is working to step up its launch capacity through a second vehicle assembly building for the second launch pad, which has been completed and is constructing a PSLV integration facility for the first launch pad.  (IANS)

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Uber India Rolls Out Driver Reward Programme “Uber Plus”

Uber India has planned free doctor access and micro loans for drivers

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Uber
Uber has rolled out a reward programme for drivers in India. Wikimedia Commons

Global ride-hailing major Uber on Wednesday rolled out a driver rewards programme called “Uber Plus” in India that will let drivers earn points for rides so that they can win free doctor consultations, concessions on education modules, access to micro loans, faster airport pick ups and savings on vehicle maintenance costs.

These points will be earned by the driver partners in 13 cities over a fixed period of every three months and can be then accumulated to unlock higher rating tiers such as blue, gold, platinum and diamond which, in turn, will let them access better rewards, informed the company.

“Under the programme, the Uber drivers get access to four tiers. To unlock these awards, they need to maintain a certain threshold rating and keep a low cancellation rate to unlock access to these benefits,” Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia, told IANS.

Uber Plus
Under this programme, Uber drivers get access to four tiers. Pixabay

“We have always worked towards prioritising their welfare and making them feel valued, respected and appreciated. ‘Uber Plus’ is an effort in that direction and will enable our driver partners to access greater benefits during their everyday journeys,” he added.

The rewards and offers are only available to drivers who use the Uber driver app, are participating in Uber Plus and meet applicable criteria.

Asked if this initiative will help in bringing down the number of cancellations, Singh replied: “We encourage ri ders to flag such cases if the driver cancels because the mode of payment is not cash, etc. That will help us take strict action against such drivers.

“We want to encourage behaviour which helps improve the marketplace reliability. Less the cancellation, the chances of the trip getting completed goes up and, overall, the network efficiency increases.”

An initial pilot phase was carried out in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh and Mumbai and now, Uber Plus is being rolled out across 10 new cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Guwahati and Jaipur.

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“We also want to reward drivers who have lower cancellations,” said Uber.

Under the driver programme, Uber has partnered with “Ayushman Bharat” to provide access to free healthcare to its drivers, wherein they have access to free healthcare of up to Rs 500,000 in empanelled hospitals. (IANS)