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Yoga guru Bikram Choudhury to pay $6.5 million in punitive damages

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Washington: What comes as a significant blow to his career, a Los Angeles County jury ordered Yoga founder Bikram Choudhury to pay over $6.5 million to his ex-attorney in punitive damages for harassment.

Minakshi Jafa-Bodden, who was employed by Choudhury as his general counsel in 2011, sued the 69-year-old yoga instructor alleging that she suffered gender discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment, according to a news agency report.

The decision was taken a day after Choudhury was ordered to pay Jafa-Bodden approximately $1 million as compensatory damages. On 26 January, the jury found Choudhury guilty of acting with malice, oppression, and fraud, allowing Jafa-Bodden to proceed with punitive damages immediately.

Jafa-Bodden alleged that she was fired in 2013 for investigating the claims of Choudhury raping a yoga student.

Choudhury’s attorneys, however, claimed that Jafa-Bodden was let go because she did not have a license to practice in the United States. However, Jafa-Bodden countered the claim by saying the yoga guru had persuaded her to leave India in 2011 to work for him in America.

During the court proceedings, Choudhury claimed that he did not have any knowledge of his net worth, and had not been making any money from the yoga business for several years. He did acknowledge the fact that he owned a fleet of 40 luxury cars, but claimed that he had transferred the ownership of the cars to the state of California to start a ‘Bikram auto engineering school for children’.

His statements were overridden when one of Jafa-Bodden’s lawyers displayed photographs of Bikram Choudhury’s Beverly Hills Mansion, and a pair of white Ferraris he had brought for his children.

Bikram Choudhury, who left the courtroom without commenting, has in the past been sued by six other women for sexual misconduct. On being questioned about these incidents during the recent trial, Choudhury denied he had sexually assaulted any woman.(IANS)(Image- wikipedia)

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Firefly Aerospace Inc Plans to Build a Factory at Cape Canaveral

NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface.

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A Falcon 9 SpaceX heavy rocket stands ready for launch on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Feb. 5, 2018 VOA

Firefly Aerospace Inc, a resurgent rocket company founded by a former SpaceX engineer, plans to build a factory and launch site at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Spaceport in a $52 million deal, people familiar with the project said on Wednesday.

The Firefly project is strategically important for the Cedar Park, Texas-based startup as it competes with several other new entrants vying to cash in on a big jump in the number of small satellites expected in the coming years.

Companies like Firefly, billionaire British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit, and the U.S.-New Zealand company Rocket Lab, are among the most promising companies designing miniaturized launch systems to link a broader swath of the economy to space at lower cost.

Firefly and Space Florida, the state’s spaceport authority, declined to comment, citing confidentiality agreements.

Russian Rocket
The Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying the crew of astronaut Nick Hague of the U.S. and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Russia blasts off to the International Space Station (ISS) from the launchpad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. VOA

Beginning around 2020, around 800 small satellites are expected to launch annually, more than double the annual average over the past decade, according to Teal Group analyst Marco Caceres.

The boom is fueled in part by new venture cash and technology leaps that have reduced the size of satellites used for everything from communications to national security.

A Florida project code-named “Maricopa” was publicly disclosed in November by Space Florida, but officials have been tight-lipped on specifics. Two people familiar with the project said Firefly is the company involved, though one of the people said the deal had not been finalized.

Firefly aims for a first flight in December of its Alpha rocket, which is capable of carrying around 2,200 pounds (1,000 kg) into low-Earth orbit at a cost of about $15 million per flight.

NASA, tissue
Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha.

By comparison, it can cost around $62 million for a ride on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 with a payload topping 50,000 pounds (22,700 kg).

Firefly, founded around 2014 by former SpaceX and NASA engineer Tom Markusic, says its main competitors are government-subsidized foreign ones like the Indian Space Research Organization.

Asset management firm Noosphere Ventures bought Firefly’s assets in 2017 after it nearly shut down when a key European investor backed out. That resulted in the cancellation of a $5.5 million NASA contract for small satellite launches.

Also Read: NASA Planning to Use Blockchain Technology For Air Traffic Management

Firefly has a launchpad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and has generally talked about expanding operations for Alpha and a higher-capacity Beta rocket around 2021. It was not clear when the Florida expansion would be completed.

In November, NASA named Firefly as one of nine U.S. companies competing for funding under a program to develop technology to explore the moon’s surface. (VOA)