Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Shakti (Ardiden 1H) engine

Shakti is a turbo-shaft helicopter engine jointly developed by HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd), India and Turbomeca, France. Shakti has been developed to power the Dhruv helicopters. Dhruv is an ALH( Advanced Light Helicopter) developed by HAL. Shakti offers 900kW takeoff power (30% more compared to Turbomeca 332-2B2, currently employed with Dhruv).Shakti is designed to retain full performance while operating at high altitudes and high temperatures. At present Turbomeca is mainly responsible for the development and manufacturing of the engine assemblies. But gradually HAL will start assembling the engines in India with Turbomeca supplying the kits.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

W2M satellite has been launched

Today W2M satellite has been launched from Kourou spaceport, French Guiana. The satellite has been built by ISRO for the European satellite operator(Eutelsat) for 80 million USD. W2M is a communication satellite and it carries 32 Ku-band transponders for telecommunications and broadcasting services over Europe, Middle East and North Africa. It weighs 3462 kg and is the heaviest developed by ISRO.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Resources for Aerospace Evangelists

Aerospace America: A monthly publication from AIAA.
Aerospace Manufacturing and Design (AMD)

Russia to send an ISRO scientist in a manned space mission

ISRO is planning for a manned space mission from Sriharikota between 2014 and 2015.
Before that Russia will send an ISRO scientist to space around 2013. The person chosen will be a scientist from ISRO. He will undergo training at Star City near Moscow. The manned space mission will give ISRO insight into manned space missions.
ISRO is also planning for a manned flight to moon around 2020.
Rakesh Sharma is the first cosmonaut of India. He had been to space in a Russian space flight.
Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams(citizens of US and people of Indian origin) had been to space in NASA space missions.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Juno Mission

NASA is going to launch mission Juno in August,2011 to study Jupiter. Juno will reach Jupiter in 2016 and it will orbit the planet for one year. Juno's primary goal is to help scientists understand the formation and structure of Jupiter. The Juno spacecraft is to be built by Lockheed-Martin. The spacecraft will spin 2-5 revolutions per minute. The spinning will provide pointing stability and also gyroscope functionality. Juno will use 3 solar panels to generate solar energy for its operation.
The Juno Website

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chandrayaan-1 : The Flight Path

1: After liftoff, the spacecraft will be placed in an elliptical inertial orbit called GTO(Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit). GTO will be 240 km from the Earth at perigee and 36000 km from Earth at apogee.
2: After that the spacecraft will be taken to ETO(Earth Transfer Orbit). ETO is 73000 km from Earth at apogee.
3: From ETO, the spacecraft will be put into the LTT(Lunar Transfer Trajectory) and will move towards the moon. The maneuver will be performed by using the spacecraft's Liquid Apogee Motor(LAM).
4: Once in the vicinity of the moon, the LAM will be fired again to reduce the speed of the spacecraft sufficiently to enable the gravity of the moon to capture it into an elliptical orbit. This is called LOI (Lunar Insertion Maneuver).
5: After that the altitude of the spacecraft will be gradually reduced from around 1000 km and it will finally orbit moon at about 100 km above the moon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chandrayaan-I successfully launched

ISRO has successfully launched Chandrayaan-I at 6.22 am today from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. The spacecraft was carried by PSLV-C11 rocket. It has been successfully placed in the earth orbit. The spacecraft will take 15 days to reach the lunar orbit.
With the launch, India joined the elite club of moon faring nations -- the US, Russia, European Space Agency, China and Japan.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

O3b Networks

O3b Network Ltd is a company which is deploying a new global communications infrastructure for providing high-speed, low-cost internet connectivity to the emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. O3b Networks was founded by entrepreneur Greg Wyler.The new infrastructure will enable telecom operators and internet service providers to offer cost-effective voice and broadband services at high speed.
In developing countries, providing internet connection via fiber optics is not a commercially viable option. So instead of fiber network, the O3b network system will employ direct connection between core networks and 3G Cellular/WiMAX towers.
The production of the initial constellation of 16 satellites has already begun. The network will be operational by 2012.
O3b has the financial and operational support from Google, Liberty Global and HSBC Principal Investments.
Link to O3b networks.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

ESA/Russian joint trip to the Moon

The European Space Agency has planned to develop a reusable crew capsule for lunar missions. The capsule will use rockets to land and take off from the lunar surface and to touchdown back on Earth so that it can be reused. The capsule will be developed using the tried and tested technology used for the automatic cargo system used to supply the ISS.

The Russians have planned to enhance their existing booster technology into a larger rocket capable of carrying six people into orbit or four people to the Moon.

The European Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency are planning for an agreement for combining their complementary capabilities and having lunar space flights.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

DelFly Micro

The DelFly Micro is an MAV developed by TU Delft. It weighs 3 grams and measures 10cm wingtip to wingtip. It can fly at 5 m/s for 3 minutes. Its battery weighs 1 gm. Delfy Micro has a camera on board for taking pictures and transmitting it to the ground station. The camera weighs .5 gm. Delfy Micro is the successor of Delfy I and Delfy II.
For more information on Delfy Micro, you can follow the link.

Friday, July 11, 2008


In unmanned missions, almost everything on site is controlled by computers. The computers which are used for space missions need to be very robust as they have to operate in high radiation zone and in a wide temperature profile. They need to be compact and weigh less to be put cheaply into the space. They should consume less energy. And their performance should be high.

The Advanced Space borne Computer Module(ASCM) was a space electronics program funded by BMDO, the US Air Force, and Phillips Laboratory whose main intention was to create a processor chip to be used in space missions. RAD 6000 was the outcome of the program. RAD6000 is a radiation-hardened single board computer, based on the IBM RISC(Reduced Instruction Set Computer) single chip CPU from the BAE systems.

RAD6000 has been used in the following space programs successfully

Path Finder Lander (1997)
Deep Space 1 (1998)
Mars Polar Lander (1998)
Mars Climate Orbiter (1998)
Stardust (1999)
IMAGE/Explorer 78 (2000)
Mars Odyssey (2001)
Genesis (2001)
Spirit and Opportunity (2003)
STEREO (2006)
Dawn (2007)
Phoenix (2008)
Spitzer Space Telescope (2009)

Friday, June 20, 2008

HUMVEE of the air

V-STAR( VTOL-Swift Tactical Aerial Resource) is an unmanned aerial vehicle developed by Frontline Aerospace to transport supplies to soldiers in war zones.

V-STAR can fly at 600 to 1000 miles carrying cargo of 400 pounds.Hence it has been dubbed as the HUMVEE of the air. It can execute Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL). It is 21 feet long and 26 feet wide and weighs 2400 pounds. It has a cruising height of 15,000 feet and a cruise speed of 288 knots.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Boeing vs Airbus

"Boeing versus Airbus" is a really nice book written by John Newhouse which covers the entire history of the competition between Boeing and Airbus. The book gives valuable insight into the functioning of the aircraft manufacturing industry. I suggest it to be a must read for every aerospace evangelist.

Monday, June 9, 2008

QSST : Quiet SuperSonic Transport Project

QSST(Quiet SuperSonic Transport) project has been developed by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works under a $25-million contract from SAI(Supersonic Aerospace International). The aircraft has been designed to fly between Mach 1.6 and 1.8. QSST is supposed to meet the FAA(Federal Aviation Administration)'s stringent noise regulations and will be permitted to fly over land. The first flight of QSST has been projected for 2011 and the aircraft will be put into market by 2014.

For details you can follow this link

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Agni-III test-fire

India has test-fired intermediate range ballistic missile(IRBM) Agni-III from the Wheelers' island off Orissa coast. Agni-III is a surface-to-surface nuclear capable missile with a range of 3500km.

Agni-III page on Bharat Rakshak

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

ISRO and PSLV-C9 Launch

ISRO has successfully placed 10 satellites into orbit in a single mission by PSLV-C9 on 28th April, 2008. The net payload of the mission was 820kg. The world record for putting the maximum number of satellites in one mission has been hold by Russia, which put 12 satellites with a net payload of 295kg into orbit in April, 2007.
The mission includes the following satellites

1:- CARTOSAT-2A: CARTOSAT-2A is an Indian remote sensing satellite weighing 695kg. It carries a panchromatic camera that has image resolution of 1 meter. The images will be used in making maps, which will provide valuable information in planning urban infrastructure, rural roads and settlements. They will be used in defense applications.

2:-IMS-1(Indian Mini Satellite-1): IMS-1 is also a remote sensing satellite weighing 67kg. It has 2 payloads, which would be operated in the visible and near infrared regions of electromagnetic spectrum (multi-spectral and hyper-spectral). The main purpose of IMS-1 is to try out new technologies, particularly those related to miniaturization. It is also providing a trial platform to a hyper-spectral camera which will be used on Chandrayana-1

3:-8 Nano Satellites: The 8 nano satellites have been built by universities and research institutes in Canada, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Netherland and were launched under a commercial agreement. They weigh 50kg. 6 of the 8 satellites are clustered together with the collective name NLS-4.

Can-X2 Space Flight Laboratory, University of Toronto, Canada
Cute-1.7 Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan
Autsat-11 Aalborg University, Denmark
Compass-1 University of Applied Science, Aachen, Germany
Delphi-C3 Technical University, Delphi, Netherlands
Seeds Nihon University, Japan
NLS-5 Space Flight Lab, University of Toronto, Canada
Rubin-8 OHB Systems, Germany

Sunday, April 27, 2008

MAVs and Aerospace Innovation

Innovate, as described by Concise Oxford English Dictionary is to make changes in something already existing, as by introducing new methods, ideas or products. Obviously when you make a change in a system, the change can yield positive or negative outcomes. The result of the innovation is not always predictable before making the changes. So the key to innovation is the ability to change a system and to study the outcome of the system so as to reshape it accordingly.
But change comes at a cost in terms of man power, money and time. A system that is easy to tinker with, where changes can be brought easily can be subjected to rapid innovation. The software field is a perfect example of such a system. It costs quite less to put an idea into action in IT. It costs even less to do incremental changes/enhancements to an existing system. Whatever you think in mind can be developed and put into action quite easily. When the cost in terms of manpower and money falls, then many people go for the changes frequently. A fall in the duration of time enables to study the outcome of the change and mend the system accordingly. Linux kernel was developed by Linus Torvalds single handedly. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak created personal computer Apple 1 with a very small investment. The history of the IT industry is full of such examples.
Coming to Aerospace, the rules change in toto. It costs huge amount to design and develop an aircraft or rocket. You need large manufacturing facilities, a large group of engineers and skilled labourers . And still it takes years to design and develop any system. As a result the pace of innovation in Aerospace is quite small.

I think MAVs are going to change this slow pace of innovation in Aerospace industry. MAVs(Micro Air Vehicles) and Micro/Mini Satellites are smaller versions of aircrafts and satellites respectively. A group of 4 people with an investment of some lakhs and within a span of 2 years can design and develop a MAV or Micro Satellite from scratch. A great deal of R&D has already begun and quite a good number of MAVs have been successfully built and operated. But as the MAV building know-how becomes widespread and streamlined and the parts required for making such a system becomes easily available, the process of design and development of MAVs will accelerate.
This will give ample scope for Aerospace engineers, researchers and evangelists to give wind to their imagination.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Russia threatening China over production of J11B

According to a news report at Nezavisimaya Gazeta, J11B fighters of China are modified versions of J11/Su-27SK fighters. So Russia has now threatened to sue China for copying and pirate production of Su-27SKs.

For details please follow this link

ISRO launching 10 satellites on 28th April, 2008

ISRO is launching 10 satellites on 28th April 2008. The satellites include Cartosat-2A(India), one experimental remote sensing satellite(India) and 8 nano satellites from Canada, Netherlands, Denmark and Germany.
Out of the 8 nano satellites 6 form a cluster called NLS-4. These satellites are built to test nano technologies for use in satellites.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bjarne Stroustrup on C++

Bjarne Stroustrup is the inventor/creator of the C++ programming language. The following is the link to an interview with Bjarne published at Dr Dobb's.

Link to the interview
Wiki Page on Bjarne Stroustrup
Home page of Bjarne Stroustrup

Friday, March 28, 2008


XCOR Aerospace of Mojava, CA has announced its plan to develop Lynx, a suborbital rocket plane. Lynx will first take off in 2010 and will be capable of flying several times each day. The total flight would last about a half-hour, including a couple minutes of weightlessness.Lynx is projected to cost $10 million to develop, with ticket prices projected to be about $100,000. Lynx will be about the size of a small twin-engine propeller aircraft

Clean Flight:

Lynx's liquid-propellant engines will minimize the environmental impact of the flights. The engines will be fully reusable, burn cleanly, and release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors.

Targeted Market:

The emerging space tourism market is estimated at over a half-billion dollars. Lynx is to be used for scientific and engineering research and commercial applications.Lynx will provide affordable access to space for individuals, researchers and educators.

Flight Profile:

Lynx will have a peak altitude of 61 km. Yet it will provide weightlessness experience and a broad view of Earth for the customers. Lynx will have horizontal take off and landing. It will attain a top speed of Mach 2 powered by 4 rocket engines. The engines will be on during take off. Lynx will descend in a circling glide path with engines turned off. But its engines can be restarted during descend.

Link to an article on Lynx

Monday, March 17, 2008

50 Years of Vanguard-1

Today Vanguard-1 have completed 50 years in Earth orbit. Vanguard-1 was launched in March 17,1958. At present it is the oldest artificial satellite orbiting the earth. It is not functional now. It is the 4th artificial satellite launched.
Vanguard-1 was designed as a part of Project Vanguard to test the launch capabilities of 3-stage launch vehicle and the effects of the environment on a satellite and its systems in Earth orbit. Vanguard-1 had employed solar cells to power radio transmitters for the first time.
Vanguard-1 had helped cartographers in redrawing more accurate maps of islands in the Pacific Ocean. It also revealed that the earth is slightly pear-shaped rather than round.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Recently the US Army has awarded the University of Michigan College of Engineering a five year, $10-million grant to help develop a robotic spy plane. The grant establishes the U-M Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology i.e. COM-BAT in short. The US Army may renew the grant for an additional 5 years and $12.5-million.
The objective of the project is to develop a six-inch robotic spy plane modeled after a bat would gather data from sights, sounds and smells in urban combat zones and transmit information back to a soldier in real time.

For details please follow this link.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


SensoCopter is a tele-controlled mini-helicopter developed by Microdrones GmbH. It is equipped with a camera and is to aid police in controlling crime.

Monday, March 3, 2008

ISRO's Manned Space Mission & Budget 2008

India is planning for a manned space mission in the year 2014. A number of technologies need to be developed by ISRO prior to the ambitious undertaking e.g. 200 tonne solid booster, 25 tonne cryogenic engines and 110 tonne liquid stage engines as core boosters. The project requires 10,000 crore of funding. This year the Government of India has increased the grant for this project from 4 crore to 125 crore.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Aditya and Sun's Corona

ISRO is planning to launch a 100kg satellite in 2012 to study the sun. Aditya, as the satellite is named is to observe corona, the sun's outer most region and other parameters of space whether. Aditya will be placed in a near-earth orbit of 600km.
Link to the related ToI article

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A2 and Hypersonic Flight

There is an article in Tech Republic related to A2. A2 is a hypersonic aircraft being designed by Reaction Engines. For details please refer the following link :).


Monday, January 21, 2008

Tecsar Launch

ISRO has successfully put Israeli satellite Tecsar in orbit. A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) had carried the spy satellite. The satellite weighs 300kg and has remote-sensing and radar-imaging capabilities.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Driverless Car Project by GM

General Motors is planning to roll out driverless cars with in a decade. As shown in the above picture the car will avoid collision by using sensors. It will also park itself in the specified parking location.

This is not science fiction.

The most significant obstacles facing the vehicles could be human rather than technical: government regulation, liability laws, privacy concerns and people's passion for the automobile and the control it gives them.

Much of the technology already exists for vehicles to take the wheel: radar-based cruise control, motion sensors, lane-change warning devices, electronic stability control and satellite-based digital mapping. And automated vehicles could dramatically improve life on the road, reducing crashes and congestion.

Now the question is what does society want to do with it?

You're looking at these issues of congestion, safety, energy and emissions. Technically there should be no reason why we can't transfer to a totally different world.

GM plans to use an inexpensive computer chip and an antenna to link vehicles equipped with driverless technologies. The first use likely would be on highways; people would have the option to choose a driverless mode while they still would control the vehicle on local streets.

The company plans to test driverless car technology by 2015 and have cars on the road around 2018.

-- Larry Burns, VP R&D, GM

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

X51A & Hypersonic Flight

Today there is a news article regarding scram jet experiments conducted at the Purdue Univ.

X51A(shown above) is an experimental aircraft to demonstrate hypersonic flight. It is a DARPA-USAF program. The design and development work of X51A aircraft is done by Boeing, while the required engine(X-1 JP7) is being developed by Pratt & Whitney. X51A is also known as the WaveRider and is expected to fly at Mach 6.
Scramjets(Supersonic Combustion Ramjets) are a must for attaining hypersonic flight. The conducted experiments are related to the aerodynamics of scramjet engines.