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India’s Ambitious Mission to Moon Crosses Crucial Milestone

Space officials say the landing module detached from the main spacecraft successfully Monday afternoon and is now about 100 kilometers

India, Moon, Mission
Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman Kailasavadivoo Sivan displays a model of Chanrayaan 2 orbiter and rover during a press conference at their headquarters in Bangalore, India, Aug. 20, 2019. VOA

India’s ambitious mission to the moon has crossed a crucial milestone and is on course to place a probe on the south pole of the lunar surface later this week.

Space officials say the landing module detached from the main spacecraft successfully Monday afternoon and is now about 100 kilometers from the moon’s surface. It is scheduled to touchdown on the moon on Saturday deploying a 27-kilogram robotic rover on the South Pole.

All eyes will now be on that landing. If it takes place successfully, India will become the fourth country in the world to make a controlled landing on the moon after the United States, Russia and China. Space officials say the maneuver is extremely complex.

“All systems of the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter and lander are healthy,” said a statement by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after the separation of the lander. Chandrayaan, which means “moon vehicle” in Sanskrit, is the name of the spacecraft carrying out the mission.

India, Moon, Mission
India’s ambitious mission to the moon has crossed a crucial milestone and is on course to place a probe on the south pole of the lunar surface later this week. LifetimeStock

The rover will stay on the moon for 14 days examining the lunar surface for presence of water, minerals and studying its topography. The aim is to explore the south side of the moon, which no country has attempted so far.

India hopes that its second moon mission will put it in the league of major space faring nations.

It has been mounted at a time of renewed interest in earth’s nearest neighbor by space faring countries. The country’s first mission in 2008 is credited with having helped confirm evidence of water on the moon.

The current mission plans to build on that. “Chandrayaan-2 has the ability to look for water—identify the presence of water rise at depths of a few meters: an important input for sustaining a future human presence on the moon,” P Sreekumar, a senior official of ISRO, said after the launch of the moon mission nearly six weeks ago.

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Space officials are also optimistic that the roughly $ 140 million moon exploration project will cement India’s reputation for conducting low cost missions at a fraction of what Western countries spend.

The moon mission is being seen as a crucial part of India’s steadily expanding space ambitions and a demonstration of the country’s technological capabilities. It has begun preparing to send a manned mission into space by 2022. (VOA)

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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

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)