Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Washington: Indian American Sunita Williams is among four astronauts who have been selected by NASA for commercial flights to the International Space Station (ISS) from US soil.
They will work closely with company-led teams to understand their designs and operations as they finalise their Boeing CST-100 and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and operational strategies.
Williams, Robert Behnken, Eric Boe and Douglas Hurley will be trained for commercial spaceflights that will return American launches to US soil and further open up low-Earth orbit transportation to the private sector, the US space agency said.
“These distinguished, veteran astronauts are blazing a new trail — that will one day land them in the history books and Americans on the surface of Mars,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Williams, a US Navy captain, received her commission in the Navy in May 1987 and became a helicopter pilot, logging more than 3,000 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft.
NASA chose Williams for the astronaut programme in 1998. She spent a total of 322 days in space and currently holds the record for total cumulative spacewalk time by a female astronaut (50 hours and 40 minutes).
She now ranks sixth on the all-time US endurance list and second all-time for a female astronaut.
“Their selection allows NASA to move forward with the training necessary to deliver on President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan for returning the launch of the US astronauts to US soil,” said John Holdren, assistant to the President for science and technology.
“This is a new and exciting era in the history of US human spaceflight,” said Brian Kelly, director of flight operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts with Boeing and SpaceX each require at least one crewed flight test with at least one NASA astronaut on board.
To meet this requirement, the companies must also provide the necessary training for the crew to operate their respective vehicles. NASA is extensively involved with the companies and reviews their training plans.
“Congratulations to Bob, Eric, Doug and Sunita and welcome to the Commercial Crew team,” noted John Elbon, Boeing vice president.
“We look forward to working with such a highly-skilled and experienced group of NASA astronauts as we carve a path forward to launch in 2017.”
The selections are the latest major milestone in the Obama administration’s plan to partner with the US industry to transport astronauts to space, create good-paying American jobs and end the nation’s sole reliance on Russia for space travel.
By Devakinanda Ji
Derived from the Sanskrit word muc ("to free"), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara, release from the cycle of rebirth impelled by the law of karma. The transcendent state attained as a result of being released from the cycle of rebirth.
62) OṀ MOKṢHASĀDHAKABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM)-MOK-ṢHA-SAA-DHA-KA-BHOO-MYAI— NA-MA-HA
ॐ मोक्षसाधकभूम्यै नमः
(Mokṣha: Liberation, not returning to saṃsāra; Sādhaka: Seeking, spiritual discipline)
Mokṣha is liberation from the trans-migratory existence and from the cycle of birth and death (what we call saṃsāra). The topic of bandha (bondage) and mokṣha (liberation) has been widely discussed in all the systems of Hindu philosophy. It is the last pursuit of the human goals in life. The synonyms for mokṣha are: mukti, kaivalya and nirvāṇa.
There are other schools which advocate nishkāma karma (action not motivated by selfish desires) or bhakti (devotion to God resulting in His grace) as the means to mokṣha.
Bhārata bhumi is conducive for the practice of one or all the paths enjoined by the Vedas, i.e., Karma yoga, Rāja yoga, Bhakti yoga and Jnāna yoga. To pursue these paths, we have thousands and thousands of temples, puṇyatīrthās, discourses by swamīs and gurus and many others. We have the Vedas, Upanishads, purāṇas, Brahmasūtrās, āgamās and many more sacred texts and literature for answers and clarifications. Beyond showing us the paths to liberation, our scriptures tell us how to be liberated while living. One cannot ask anything better than that. The prayers from the Upanishads, is apt: 'Asatomā satgamayā; tamasomā jyotirgamayā' meaning- 'lead me from unreality to reality and from darkness to light'. Here spiritual ignorance is compared to darkness, and self-knowledge is compared to light.
The land which teaches us to worship God with 'karmaphala tyāgam, niṣhkāmakarmam, Īsvarārpaṇa buddhi' and attain 'mokṣham' is thus 'Mokṣhasādhaka Bhūmi'.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. The five rockets are in the project report stage and would come into operation in the future, said N Sudheer Kumar, Director, Capacity Building Programme Office (CBPO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). He was speaking at the International Space Conference and Exhibition, organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in virtual mode recently. When that happens ISRO can not only launch its own communication satellites but also enter the global communication satellite launch market.
Kumar also said ISRO is working on upgrading Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mk III (GSLV-Mk III) which can carry up to four ton to Geo Transfer Orbit (GTO). Normally rockets eject the communication satellites into GTO. From GTO the satellites will be taken to geostationary orbit by firing their engines. India uses Ariancespace's Ariane rocket to orbit its communication satellites weighing over four ton. According to Kumar, ISRO is also working on upgrading the lifting capacity of GSLV-Mk III to six ton and 7.5 to GTO.
The Indian space agency is working on a fleet of medium to heavy lift rockets with a carrying capacity ranging from 4.9 ton to 16.3 ton, said a senior official. | Photo by Laurent Grattepanche on Unsplash
He said the six ton lift capacity will be achieved by miniaturization of avionics, uprating of its three stages/engines, structural mass optimisation and other means. Kumar said ISRO is on the verge of realising its semi-cryogenic engine - engine fueled by pure kerosene- which will soon power GSLV-Mk III so that the rocket can carry 7.5 ton payload to GTO with an upgraded cryogenic engine. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: ISRO, heavy, ton, rockets, GSLV, fleet, India
In the recent past, Kalamkari has suddenly gained prominence in the wardrobes of Indian women. Commercial hubs in the city are filled with mannequins posing in kalamkari blouses, or sarees stretching out for yards on hangers.
As the name suggests, 'kalamkari' means 'craft from a pen'. Artisans draw on cloth with a pen, and colour it in with paints. This art form originated from the Mughal era and many of the scenes that artists choose to draw are scenes from Mughal gardens or palaces.
The Mughals were great patrons of art, and were known for their unique painting techniques. They would use a single haired brush to elaborate scenes from battle or from mythology. This technique was adopted by artisans of Hyderabad, who use a tamarind twig to paint cloth.
An artisan drawing with a tamarind twig on cloth with dyes Image source: wikimedia commons
These days, apart from mythology, kalamkari depicts scenes from everyday life too. The face of the Kathakali dancer, a pair of earrings, and the enlightened face of Buddha are some famous designs that people are seen wearing. The colours are usually dark blue, brown, olive green, or deep red.
Kalamkari, a 23-step dye process, is done in two different ways. The Kalahasti art type was a household form, where a brush is used to manually paint in the designs. Srikalahasti is an important center in Andhra Pradesh for this type of art. The Machilipatnam art form involves block painting, where designs are drawn on wooden blocks, dipped in the dye, and pressed on the fabric.
Kalamkari artist using wooden blocks to stamp designs on a sari Image source: wikimedia commons
One of the reasons why this handicraft has suddenly become popular could be due to the sustainable quality of its dyes and fabric. Kalamkari uses natural vegetable dyes and preferably cotton fabric as the base. It has grown as an art form, and in the fashion industry, it is being revered as an indigenous inclusion of heritage on an international platform.
Keywords: Kalamkari, Mughal, Art forms, Block painting, Andhra Pradesh