India launches its heaviest rocket with 36 OneWeb satellites on board
India’s heaviest rocket LVM3-M2 successfully launched 36 broadband communication satellites for a UK-based customer into the desired orbits on Sunday, according to the space agency, which hailed the mission as “historic.” OneWeb Ltd., a global communication network powered by space that enables internet connectivity for businesses and governments, is the UK-based client of NewSpace India Ltd. (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO. One of OneWeb’s major investors is Bharti Enterprises.
With Sunday’s accomplishment, ISRO overcame the anomaly it encountered on its Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) mission on August 7 that rendered the satellites useless.
Deepavali had begun sooner for the scientists at the space agency, said a beaming S Somanath, chairman of the ISRO.
“The LVM3 M2/OneWeb India-1 mission was successfully completed. All 36 satellites have been launched into their intended orbits. @OneWeb @NSIL India, “ISRO announced in a tweet minutes after Somanath’s announcement that 16 satellites had been placed in the desired orbits, with the rest taking some time.
All 36 satellites were launched into orbit 75 minutes after the rocket took off from the spaceport here.
Somanath told the audience at the Mission Control Centre that the festival celebrations began at Satish Dhawan Space Centre because LVM3 and its first commercial mission completed the orbit very precisely.
“Now that the rocket has entered orbit, 16 of the 36 satellites have been injected. I wanted to let you know that separating the satellites is a slow process. Data on the separation of the remaining 20 satellites will be available shortly, and mission operations to monitor this separation are ongoing “, he had previously stated. ISRO later confirmed that the mission’s desired goal had been met.
Former ISRO chiefs K Sivan and A S Kiran Kumar, as well as Bharti Enterprises founder-chairman Sunil Mittal, witnessed the launch from the Mission Control Centre.
Somanath, also the Secretary of the Department of Space, described the mission as “historic,” and credited Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for its success.
“Congratulations to the entire launch vehicle team for taking the chance and preparing it for the historic mission today. I’d also like to thank the OneWeb team for trusting us to host the LVM3… We are hopeful that the next LVM3 mission will do the same to place the remaining 36 satellites contracted by NSIL “, he explained.
“The three major stakeholders in this particular mission, the NSIL, ISRO, and OneWeb India, have shown the entire world how to contract and execute the mission in less than 3-4 months,” said D Radhakrishnan, Chairman and Managing Director of NSIL.
After a 24-hour countdown, the 43.5-meter-tall rocket blasted off on Sunday at 12.07 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Center’s second launch pad in a majestic flight.
Because it can transport satellites weighing up to 8,000 kg, the vehicle is also referred to as one of the heaviest.
The entire mission, which involved launching 36 satellites, took about 75 minutes from liftoff because scientists had to turn off the engine to position the satellites in their intended orbits.
The LVM3-M2 mission on Sunday, which is the launch vehicle’s first dedicated commercial mission, marks several significant firsts.
The rocket, which was the first Indian rocket with a payload of 5,796 kg, carried the heaviest payloads, according to ISRO, including 36 OneWeb satellites.
The ISRO Chairman demanded that the mission be completed in less than three months, according to mission director Thaddeus Baskar.
“Once the requirement was clarified, the entire ISRO team rose to the occasion and worked tirelessly. Throughout the schedule, there was no time for sleep, and everything had to be done correctly the first time “he stated.
The satellites will be placed in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), which is higher than Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), for the first time with the launch of LVM3-M2 (GTO).
Since the newest rocket can carry 8,000 kg of payloads into LEO and 4,000 kg of satellites into GTO, ISRO scientists changed the launch vehicle’s name from GSLV-Mk III to LVM3-M2.
The LVM3-M2 mission would boost the space agency thanks to the new launch vehicle that will put satellites into low-Earth orbit and ISRO’s dependable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The rocket is a three-stage launch vehicle with two S200 solid propellant strap-ons on its sides and a core stage with an L110 liquid stage and a C25 cryogenic stage.
OneWeb is deploying a constellation of 648 satellites in LEO. While 36 satellites were launched on Sunday, ISRO said that another batch of satellites would be placed in orbit by early 2023.
US Fighter Jets Shoot Down Octagonal Object Near Canadian Border
The Pentagon has reported that US fighter jets have shot down an unidentified flying object in the Midwest, near the Canadian border. The object was flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet and posed no military threat, however, it may have interfered with domestic air traffic. A statement by Pentagon spokesperson, Patrick Ryder, noted that the incident was the latest in a series of similar events, including a suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that raised security concerns in North America.
The Pentagon reported that a third unidentified flying object was shot down over North America in just three days, and the fourth in a week. The object was brought down over Lake Huron on the US-Canada border at 2:42 pm local time on February 13th, according to a statement by the Pentagon. The recent activity of defence has been sparked by the appearance of a white balloon that was spotted over the US in late January. The balloon hovered over the country for days, leading the US to suspect it was a Chinese surveillance balloon.
On February 4th, fighter jets brought the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina. The latest object that was shot down appeared to have an octagonal structure, with strings hanging from it but no clear payload, as reported by an official to the press.
The object, detected near military sites in Montana, led to the closure of US airspace by the Pentagon due to its proximity to sensitive sites.
General Glen VanHerck, head of the US Air Force responsible for securing US airspace, informed the media that the military was unable to identify the nature, source, or means of staying aloft for the three recent unidentified objects.
General VanHerck, who is in charge of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Northern Command, stated that they referred to the objects as “objects” and not balloons for a specific reason. He added that he wouldn’t exclude any explanation, including the possibility of extraterrestrial involvement.
Legislators are calling for more information regarding the objects that have been shot down. US legislator Debbie Dingell, among other Michigan lawmakers, has stated the need to know the origin, purpose, and reason for the increase in the frequency of these objects.
Heino Klinck, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defence for East Asia, believes the government should be more transparent about these incursions. Klinck mentioned that the challenge for the government is to release information without compromising sources and methods, but it is high time for them to say something. The latest object was first detected over Montana on Saturday evening but was initially thought to be an anomaly.
However, it was detected again on Sunday over the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, moving over Lake Huron. US and Canadian authorities restricted airspace over the lake as fighters were scrambled to intercept and identify the object. Meanwhile, Canadian authorities are searching for the wreckage of the object shot down over the Yukon region.
Joe Biden Believed to Have Invited PM Modi for State Visit to US
It has been reported that the President of the United States, Joe Biden, has extended an invitation to the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, for a state visit this summer. The invitation has been accepted in principle, and both sides are now working on scheduling a mutually convenient date. Currently, the visit is in the early stages of logistical planning.
India is set to host a series of events in the lead-up to the G-20 summit in September. This includes several events aimed at showcasing the country’s progress and achievements. Given the significance of the G-20, the state visit by President Biden is expected to be a significant event that will highlight the strong partnership between the two countries.
The visit will also provide an opportunity for the two leaders to engage in discussions on a range of important issues, including trade, investment, and regional security. India and the United States share a strong relationship, built on shared values and mutual interests. The state visit will further strengthen this relationship and deepen the ties between the two nations.
The visit is expected to generate significant media coverage and will likely be seen as a significant event in the region. Both sides are expected to take advantage of the opportunity to highlight their respective achievements and to set the tone for future cooperation.
The state visit is expected to last for a minimum of a couple of days and will involve several key events such as a joint address to the US Congress and a state dinner at the White House. Prime Minister Modi has a busy schedule ahead, including participation in the G-20 summit, domestic and international commitments, and campaigning for state assembly elections later in the year.
Sources, who remain unnamed due to the sensitive nature of the matter and restrictions on discussing it publicly, have not disclosed the timing and messenger of President Biden’s invitation to Prime Minister Modi. Biden previously hosted French President Emmanuel Macron for his first state dinner in December.
A senior official from the Biden administration has stated that the President values the partnership between India and the United States, which is seen as critical for addressing global challenges and advancing shared interests.
In conclusion, the state visit by President Biden to India this summer is expected to be a significant event that will reinforce the strong partnership between the two countries and deepen the ties between their people. Both sides are working to ensure that the visit is a success and will contribute to the continued growth and prosperity of both nations.
US Plans to End Public Health Emergency for Covid in May
The Biden administration has announced its plan to end the coronavirus public health emergency in May, signaling a shift in the perception of the pandemic’s severity. The expiration of the emergency will bring both symbolic and practical changes, as millions of Americans have received free Covid tests, treatments and vaccines that may not be available without cost after the emergency ends.
The White House intends to keep the emergency in place for a few more months to provide adequate time for hospitals, health care providers, and health officials to prepare for the changes that will come with its end.
Although Covid-19 is still taking an average of over 500 lives daily in the US, about double the number of deaths during a severe flu season, the pandemic is no longer disrupting daily life to the same extent it once did. This is due, in part, to the increasing number of people who have received vaccinations or have developed some level of protection from prior infections.
The White House is committed to an orderly transition out of the public health emergency. Additionally, the administration intends to let a separate declaration of a national emergency expire on the same day, May 11.
The White House has warned against the sudden end of the emergency declarations, stating that it could result in widespread chaos and uncertainty across the healthcare system. The statement highlights the potential impact on states, hospitals, doctors’ offices, and most importantly, millions of Americans.
The White House emphasized the importance of an orderly transition to minimize disruption to the healthcare system and to ensure that the needs of all stakeholders are addressed. The message serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic and the need for continued vigilance and preparation to manage its impact on public health and the healthcare system.
The White House statement was released prior to a planned vote in the House on a bill named the “Pandemic Is Over Act,” which aims to end the public health emergency immediately. The Republican-led House is scheduled to discuss several pandemic-related measures this week. The White House’s statement serves as a response to the proposed bill, as well as another bill aimed at ending the national emergency.
The disagreement between the White House and House Republicans indicates a likely prolonged political dispute over the administration’s handling of the pandemic. Republicans aim to criticize the Biden administration for excessive spending in response to the coronavirus crisis. Representative Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana and the Majority Leader, has called on the Biden administration to end the emergency declaration immediately instead of waiting until May 11. Scalise believes that the Biden administration has used the Covid crisis as a cover to waste taxpayer dollars on unrelated policies.
However, the White House claims that it is the federal Covid policies, including free tests, treatments, and vaccines, that have improved the control of the pandemic. The officials have reported that Covid was the third leading cause of death from 2020 to mid-2022, but is no longer among the top five killers.
In conclusion, the decision to end the coronavirus public health emergency marks a significant turning point in the pandemic, reflecting the administration’s confidence in the progress made in controlling its spread. However, it also brings with it the challenge of ensuring a smooth transition that addresses the impact of the emergency on the healthcare system and its stakeholders.
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