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Antariksham Weekly #09
New Director of URSC, Gaganyaan Update, Artemis Accords or China-Russia Lunar Station debate, Antrix-Devas Update.
New Director takes over at URSC, Bangaluru
The UR Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bangaluru, has a new director. Shri M Sankaran took over as Director of URSC on June 01, 2021, from the former director P. Kunhikrishnan. He joined ISRO 35 years ago and worked on power systems for satellites.
Shri P. Kunhikrishnan retired after 36 years of service in ISRO. He joined URSC as its director back in August 2018 and was also director of SDSC-SHAR between 2015-2018.
A TedX Talk by Former Director P. Kunhikrishanan:
Amazon joins the Competition for Satellite-based Broadband in India
Amazon is the latest company to join the competition for Satellite-based Broadband at one of the biggest growing markets, India. Bharti Airtel backed OneWeb and SpaceX are already deploying satellites in their respective global constellations. SpaceX's Starlink has begun beta testing in the USA, and their website states operations start in India around 2022. While OneWeb may be behind in the number of satellites deployed, it plans to begin operations in India. Now, with Amazon entering the picture, the competition for this upcoming market would be fierce.
Gaganyaan Micro-Meteoroid and Orbital Debris Impact Testing to be done at TBRL, DRDO
Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) will test the Gaganyaan Crew Module for hypervelocity impacts. The Laboratory has won the contract after ISRO issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) in January last year. The Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO and TBRL together will design the shield for the Gaganyaan Crew Module using NASA and ESA based debris tools.
TBRL is a DRDO lab at Chandigarh involved in Bombs and Missile testing. They evaluate various protective systems like body armour, vehicle armour and helmets.
Artemis Accords or China-Russia Lunar Research Station: Which one should India join? Or should it join any?
With humankind focusing on our nearest neighbour once again, a divide seems to be forming between the international participants for the latest Moon Race. NASA's Artemis Program plans to land the first woman and return humans on the Moon within the next few years. This time, they plan to stay. NASA has "a set of principles to guide cooperation among nations participating in NASA's 21st century lunar exploration plans" called the Artemis Accords.
Meanwhile, China and Russia plan to build an International Lunar Research Station (ILRS). Both nations are already collaborating on the project. They invited several international entities, including the European Space Agency, to join the project. The upcoming GLEX-2021 would see much more updates on both missions. Follow them on Moon Monday Newsletter.
Still forming an opinion myself, I would list the various articles debating joining the accords or ILRS. Pradeep Mohandas argues how Japan, Ukraine, Australia being collaborators of the Indian Space Agency and signatories of the Artemis Accords, favour India signing the accords. In contrast, Ajay Lele shares that the Indo-China ties can improve by joining the ILRS. Susita Mohanty points out that Accords may result in mining and colonisation of the Moon, while Keith Cowing argues that Accords will result in Moon's peaceful use like Antarctica.
There are many more articles discussing the Accords. A reasonable list was posted on the r/ISRO subreddit.
Antrix, a commercial arm of ISRO, formed a deal with Devas Multimedia, a telecommunications company in Bangaluru, in 2005. Years later, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India found irregularities with the deal. Following this, Antrix terminated the agreement between the parties in 2011. But Antrix lost two major Arbitrations favouring Devas and ended up with liability to pay financial compensation. Understand the whole dispute here.
On May 31, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) ordered the winding up of Devas, following a petition filed by Antrix. Without trying to understand the whole meaning behind this, it seems this update could provide some relief to ISRO after the losses in prior arbitrations.
NewSpace India Podcast
Bengaluru-based space tech startup Astrogate Labs builds core technologies in optical/laser communication terminals. The co-founder of the company, Nitish, talks about their journey so far.