Tuesday March 20, 2018
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ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar is thrilled to create India’s own space shuttle

The idea to make reusable rockets a reality is to cut down the cost of access to space by at least 10 times

ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The stepping stones of ISRO (Indian space research organisation) were laid by none other than our own beloved Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. After deploying its own GPS system through NAVIC, ISRO (India’s version of NASA) is all set to achieve another milestone in the field of space and technology. India is going to launch its own indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). According to indianexpress.com if this attempt becomes a success then the cost of access to space will decline significantly by 10 times.

What does RLV mean ?

RLV is a mechanism of launching which intends to bring down the cost of launch. Initially, a series of technology demonstrations will take place followed by the testing of HEX-01 (also called winged body). ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar explains the whole mechanism of this upcoming experiment. He further elucidates that HEX-01 will be launched from Sriharikota Island. After coming back from space it will be guided by satellites and radars to make it land in the Bay of Bengal. However, the final winged body will land on Sriharikota Islands only (i.e. on land only).

Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
  • K Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram said “These are just the first baby steps towards the big Hanuman leap. The final version will take at least 10-15 years to get ready since designing a human-rated reusable rocket is no kid stuff.
  • Apart from America, no other superpowers have attempted operational flights.
    • The US flew its space shuttle 135 times and then retired in 2011. It is said that it lost its capacity afterwards to send astronauts into space.
    • Russians made only a single space shuttle called ‘Buran’ which flew into space once in 1989.
    • French and Japanese made some experimental flights, though.
    • However, Chinese have never even attempted a space shuttle.
  • Indian space shuttle or RLV-TD began its construction nearly 5 years ago. Our government has invested nearly RS 95 Crores in this project. The capability of the vehicle to survive a re-entry at velocities more than that of a supersonic range will be tested by the flight. That is the reason this experiment has also been named as Hyper Sonic Experiment (HEX). Later RLV will be tested for another return flight experiment. After successful completion of these experiments, ISRO will plan the final configuration of the upcoming Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).
  • Scientists have even developed a material called ‘Indian space plane’. This will help in protecting the exterior surface of the shuttle from the friction caused heat while entering earth’s atmosphere (this temperature goes up to 5000-700 degrees Celsius). This thermal coating failure was the reason due to which the American space shuttle (Columbia) crashed which lead to the death of Kalpana Chawla in 2003. Hence, ISRO is emphasising on the thermal management.
  • Scientists have worked hard in making this dream come true. ISRO’s aim is to have its own ‘swadeshi space shuttle’. Sooner or later the RLV will be renamed as ‘Kalyanam’ after India’s famous former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (a legendary aeronautical engineer and rocket scientist) who dreamt of making India into a developed nation.
Former President - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
Former President – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
  • Given the vast potential which lies within our very own ISRO, we all hope this project becomes a success where all other superpowers have failed.
  • Even though the whole world is silent in attempting winged flights, ISRO’s main motto behind all this is bringing down the overall cost of building space infrastructures. This way scientists at ISRO believe that their capability will increase significantly.

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-Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata.

You can reach the author at @pritam_gogreen

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Stephen Hawking dies, world loses its brightest star

Hawking is survived by three children -- Robert, Lucy and Timothy -- from his first marriage to Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren

Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Scientist Stephen Hawking giving his views on the danger of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Stephen Hawking passed away on 14th March 2018
  • He was one of the greatest brains in the world
  • He shall always be remembered for his contributions and research

Renowned British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who shaped modern cosmology and inspired millions despite suffering from a life-threatening condition, died on Wednesday — leaving millions in mourning globally. He was 76. His family released a statement in the early hours of Wednesday confirming his death at his home in Cambridge.

The world mournes Stephen Hawking's death.
The world mournes Stephen Hawking’s death.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years,” Hawking’s children said in a statement.

“His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. He once said, It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever,” the statement added.

Hawking is survived by three children — Robert, Lucy and Timothy — from his first marriage to Jane Wilde, and three grandchildren. The physicist was born on January 8, 1942 in Oxford, England.

Known the world over for his acclaimed book “A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes”, Hawking was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — a progressive neuro-degenerative disease — in 1963 at age 21, The Guardian newspaper said. Hawking’s doctors gave him nearly two years to live but he defied medical history and survived for decades.

Also Read: Hawking treated Artificial Intelligence as threat to humanity

For the rest of his life, the physicist used a wheelchair to move around and a speech synthesizer that allowed him to speak in a computerised voice with an American accent. For Hawking, the early diagnosis of his terminal disease ignited a fresh sense of purpose.

“Although there was a cloud hanging over my future, I found, to my surprise, that I was enjoying life in the present more than before. I began to make progress with my research,” he once said, the paper reported.

Prof. Stephen Hawking provided theories to  solve mysteries of the World. Wikimedia commons
Prof. Stephen Hawking provided theories to solve mysteries of the World. Wikimedia commons

“My goal is simple. It is a complete understanding of the universe, why it is as it is and why it exists at all,” Hawking added. With fellow physicist Roger Penrose, Hawking merged Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum theory, suggesting that space and time began with the Big Bang and end in black holes. In 1974, Hawking proposed what is known as his most significant theory that black holes can emit sub-atomic particles.

Published for the first time in 1988, “A Brief History of Time” stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks. It sold 10 million copies and was translated into 40 different languages. Hailed as one of the most brilliant theoretical physicists since Albert Einstein, Hawking never won a Nobel Prize.

In India, President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Science Minister Harsh Vardhan condoled the demise of Hawking.

“Sad to hear of the passing of scientist Stephen Hawking. His brilliant mind made our world and our universe a less mysterious place. And his courage and resilience will remain an inspiration for generations,” Kovind said in a tweet.

Modi also took to Twitter to pay tribute to Hawking and said: “Professor Stephen Hawking was an outstanding scientist and academic”. It was January 2001 when Hawking came to India for the first time, later describing the 16-day long tour as “magnificent”.

In the first leg of the tour in Mumbai, Hawking addressed an international physics seminar at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). The physicist also celebrated his 59th birthday at the Oberoi Towers hotel where he stayed.

In New Delhi, Hawking met then President K.R. Narayanan at Rashtrapati Bhavan who later described the 45-minute meeting with the British physicist as “an unforgettable experience”.

The US space agency NASA tweeted: “Remembering Stephen Hawking, a renowned physicist and ambassador of science. His theories unlocked a universe of possibilities that we & the world are exploring. May you keep flying like superman in microgravity, as you said to astronauts on @Space_Station in 2014”.

“We lost a great one today. Stephen Hawking will be remembered for his incredible contributions to science — making complex theories and concepts more accessible to the masses,” tweeted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Also Read: Tech giants mourn Hawking’s death

Astrophysicist Dr Karan Jani, who works for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), wrote: “The courage for a career in astrophysics happened due to Brief History of Time – a used copy that I got from a street vendor in my small town of [India] 12 yrs ago.”

“A loss for all humanity. RIP Stephen Hawking,” tweeted American astronaut Scott Kelly. The physicist’s inspiring story gave birth to the 2014 movie “The Theory of Everything,” which was based on a memoir by Hawking’s first wife Wilde. Actor Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Hawking in the film won him an Oscar for Best Actor.

He was one of the greatest and most influential personalities in the world.
He was one of the greatest and most influential personalities in the world.

From Hollywood to Bollywood, condolences poured in for Hawking. While actor Eddie Redmayne remembered him as a “ladies man”, the official Twitter account of “The Big Bang Theory”, a TV series that witnessed appearances of the famed professor, also remembered him.

“RIP Stephen Hawking. A major loss to the scientific community and to the millions he inspired through his work and life. Condolences to the family,” tweeted actor-producer Farhan Akhtar. Oscar-winning sound designer Resul Pookutty said: “Remember to look up at the stars not down at your feet”! A sad day for all of us”. IANS