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India’s Ambitious Mission to Land Unmanned Probe on Moon Suffers Setback

Millions in the country stayed awake to watch live images of the "soft landing" that was to place a lander on the unexplored south pole

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India, Moon, Mission
FILE - This photo released by the Indian Space Research Organization shows its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle MkIII, carrying Chandrayaan-2, lift off from Satish Dhawan Space center in Sriharikota, India, July 22, 2019. VOA

 India’s ambitious mission to land an unmanned probe on the moon suffered a setback when its space agency lost contact with the landing craft minutes before it was to make a critical touchdown on the lunar surface.

It was a disappointment for a country that had hoped to successfully demonstrate a feat achieved by only three other countries so far — the United States, the former Soviet Union and China.

Millions in the country stayed awake to watch live images of the “soft landing” that was to place a lander on the unexplored south pole of the moon around 2 a.m. local time Saturday. It was the most challenging component of India’s second moon mission, Chandrayaan-2.

All appeared to be on track, but the mood in the mission control room changed in the final moments when the lander was about 2 kilometers away from the lunar surface.

 

India, Moon, Mission
It was a disappointment for a country that had hoped to successfully demonstrate a feat achieved by only three other countries so far — the United States, the former Soviet Union and China. Pixabay

“The Vikram lander descent was (ongoing) as planned and normal performance was observed,” chairman of India’s Space Research, Organization, K. Sivan, said in a brief announcement. “Subsequently, communication from lander to the ground stations was lost. Data is being analyzed.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who had been monitoring the landing with space scientists at the mission control room in Bengaluru, lauded their efforts. “Ups and downs keep coming in life. Your hard work has taught us a lot and the entire country is proud of you,” he added.

He later tweeted, “India is proud of our scientists! They’ve given their best and have always made India proud. These are moments to be courageous and courageous we will be.”

With contact lost, it is not clear if the vehicle landed safely on the lunar surface or not.

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’15 minutes of terror’

Landing on the lunar surface is a complex maneuver fraught with challenges and had earlier been described by ISRO head Sivan as “15 minutes of terror.” It involves reducing the velocity at which the lander comes down to ensure a touchdown so soft that it prevents damage, tilting or crashing. Only about half the 38 attempts to land on the moon have been successful.

India had hoped that mastering technology for soft landing would provide critical building blocks to mount further missions to Mars and other planets.

“Suppose you want to land something on Mars or do some docking activity, this knowledge is very critical,” Mukund Rao, an expert in space technology, said. “If you just orbit around say the Mars and moon, it does not give you the capability of  landing and colonizing and doing some exploitation.”

 

India, Moon, Mission
India’s ambitious mission to land an unmanned probe on the moon suffered a setback when its space agency lost contact with the landing craft. Pixabay

Indian scientists said the roughly $140 million mission was meant to study the south pole because a larger area there remains in shadow, increasing the possibility of water and making it a likely target for moon habitation.

There has been massive renewed interest in exploring the moon in recent years. China landed a craft earlier this year and the U.S. space agency has plans to put astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Chandrayaan-2 was a huge step up from India’s previous space explorations, such as its first moon mission in 2008 and a mission to Mars in 2013 that involved sending a spacecraft to the Red Planet.

There had been a massive groundswell of national pride in the mission. In the hours before the landing, television anchors had called it “historic” and “epochal,” and schoolchildren across the country cheered it enthusiastically. Some students had been invited to watch the soft landing attempt with the prime minister.

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India has a smaller space program compared to countries like the United States and and trails its Asian rival China, but it is mounting more ambitious programs hoping to get into the league of major space faring nations.

Prime Minister Modi is supportive of more space missions  analysts say the nationalist leader sees them as a symbol to underline the country’s rising stature. Planning is already underway for a manned mission to space by 2022, and robotic probes to Mars and Venus over the next decade. (VOA)

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Dassault Systemes Mulling To Invest More For The Development Of The EV Ecosystem

With the government setting a target of 2023 to step up the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in India, global 3D design company Dassault Systemes is mulling to invest more for the development of the EV ecosystem

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Electric Vehicles, India, Dassault Systemes, Invest
Electric Vehicle Charging Point Stockholm City, Sweden. Wikimedia Commons

With the government setting a target of 2023 to step up the adoption of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in India, global 3D design company Dassault Systemes is mulling to invest more for the development of the EV ecosystem in the country, a top company executive said on Sunday.

When it comes to Electric Vehicles, India is the most interesting market because it is able to think about innovation, and is involved in a lot of testing and trying to find new disruptive ways, according to Florence Verzelen, Executive Vice President, Industry Marketing, Global Affairs and Communication, Dassault Systemes.

“Now the customers are looking for mobility from point A to point B that is cheap and sustainable without too much emission. So our customers are transforming their business models to provide electric and autonomous vehicles and that may not necessarily be cars,” Verzelen told IANS.

Electric Vehicles, India, Dassault Systemes, Invest
Two-, three- and four-wheelers, which are battery operated, will not have to pay fees for renewal of the registration certificate. Pixabay

“It can be a combination of cars and scooters. We are providing these industries with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to innovate and design the innovation of the vehicle as well as the plant,” Verzelen said.

The 3DEXPERIENCE major, which offers product lifecycle management (PLM) and 3D modelling software, simulation apps and industry solutions, has just announced a partnership with Mahindra Electric Mobility wherein the latter will deploy Dassault Systemes’ SIMULIA family of applications to drive innovation via digital simulation for its existing line-up of EV models and the recently expanded portfolio.

Using the company’s SIMULIA applications, powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, Mahindra Electric has performed thermal, structural, electromagnetic interference, electromagnetic compatibility (EMI-EMC) of critical parts like battery enclosures, and battery management systems for realistic simulation before any physical prototyping.

According to Samson Khaou, Managing Director, India, Dassault Systemes: “We are aligned with the country’s mission for a sustainable and green mobility landscape. EVs are certainly a way forward and we are geared up to address the EV requirements with our portfolio of industry solution experiences based on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to address each of the segments — OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), suppliers and startups in the automotive industry.”

The 3DEXPERIENCE major is also working with several startups and other firms that aim to change the energy sector in the country.

“A few days ago in Bengaluru, a startup called Log9 Materials showcased leverages graphene nanotechnology for development of enhanced and commercially viable aluminum-air catteries which would revolutionise the energy sector,” added Verzelen.

 

Electric Vehicles, India, Dassault Systemes, Invest
Dassault Systèmes Logo. Wikimedia Commons

Apart from EV makers, the firm is in talks with both public and private sector companies in industries like marine, offshore and industrial equipment and energy.

“We have 2700+ people working with us in India and it is a very important market for us. We also have a lot of partners who are selling solutions with us and we are focusing on industries that are undergoing significant transformation such as transportation and mobility, aerospace and defence, life sciences, construction and smart cities,” noted Verzelen.

Extremely bullish on India, Dassault Systemes is also looking to open more innovation centres in the country. It currently has the maximum number of innovation centres in India.

“We have more innovation centres in India than in Europe and we are super interested in opening more. We definitely have plans for that. I hope the next time I come to India, I can formally announce the opening of a new centre,” Verzelen told IANS

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More than one third of the company’s workforce is in India and it is mulling to increase the headcount considering the innovations happening in the country. Dassault Systemes’ R&D centre is located in Pune.

“We have a total of 12 different brands which have a specialised team in India, focusing on different aspects of the technologies that we provide. We have a lot of brands and they require lots of research,” Verzelen said.

“We are very selective about our R&D centres. We have no R&D centre in China, and have limited resources in Singapore. Apart for resources in Japan and the US, we have a huge centre in France. India is the country that we look at when it comes to R&D,” Verzelen noted. (IANS)