DEENCE Agni-V successfully launched On April 19, 2012, India successfully launched its Agni-V Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) from the Wheeler Island off the Odisha coast.
For the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO), this was the 25th launch of the Agni series of missiles and without doubt it’s most prestigious. With a range of 5,000 km, Agni-V would travel a distance of 2,000 km more than any other Indian missile, making it the longest range missile currently available in India’s strategic armoury.
It is also the fastest of the missiles, travelling at 24 times the speed of sound or 6,000 meters per second, covering the distance of 5,000 km in just 20 minutes. Agni-V’s navigational system is a quantum jump over its cousins, making it the most accurate of the lot. It will soon have an unenviable mobility when it is made ready for what is known as a ‘canister launch’ so that it could be launched from anywhere in India at anytime.
Missiles of the Agni class require mastery over vital technologies that include building powerful light-weight rocket motors, a sophisticated navigation and guidance system and material to withstand the high temperatures experienced during re-entry. For Agni-V, the missile team developed two new rocket motors using composite material that made the overall missile far lighter. The team saved as much as 40 per cent of the weight, thereby enabling it to add more propellant to power the missile to greater distances.
The team also worked on developing a carbon composite covering for its warhead to withstand the incredibly high temperatures of 6,000 degrees Celsius when the missile re-enters the atmosphere. As important was improving the navigation and guidance system that, despite the tremendously long range, piloted the missile to the target and then exploded the payload within minimum error over the Indian Ocean.
INS Teg: New Stealth frigate for Indian Navy The 3,970-tonne INS Teg frigate, armed with the 290-km BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles among other weapon systems, was commissioned into the Indian Navy at Yantar shipyard at Kaliningrad in Russia on April 27, 2012.
Taking its name from the short, single-edged curved swords traditionally used by the Sikhs, INS Teg will sail with a crew of 24 officers and 229 sailors.
Two other stealth frigates, INS Tarkash and INS Trikand, ordered from Russia under a $1.15-billion contract inked in 2006, will follow in September 2012, and July 2013.
With an operating range of 4,500 nautical miles, these frigates can handle many threats in all the three dimensions—air, surface and underwater. These warships pack more power than the earlier three Talwar-class frigates bought from Russia in 2003-04, equipped as they are with BrahMos land-attack missiles, surface-to-air missiles, AK-630 close-in weapon systems, torpedoes, anti-submarine rockets and an upgraded multi-role combat suite.
The 125-metre-long INS Teg, which can operate an anti-submarine or early-warning helicopter from its deck, has innovative design features to ensure reduction in its radar cross-section, infra-red, magnetic and acoustic signatures, as well as radiated underwater noise to enhance its stealth nature.
The warship is also equipped with complex automated systems for NBC (nuclear, biological and chemical) defence and damage control.
PROJECTS Gujarat Solar Park On April 19, 2012, Mr Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, dedicated 600MW solar power generation capacity to the Nation. Asia’s first and largest “multi-developer, multi-facility and multi-beneficiary” Solar Park is located at Charanka Village in Pattan, Gujarat. The State of Gujarat contributes two-thirds of the total 900MW solar power generated in India.
Bhatinda oil refinery dedicated to the nation On April 28, 2012, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh dedicated the Bathinda refinery to the nation.
The state-of-the-art refinery has used structural steel that would have been enough to build 15 buildings of the size of Eiffel Tower, each 320 metres in height. The amount of cement and concrete used in the refinery would have built the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, twice with each structure measuring 829.84 metres. The Chimneys of the refinery compete with Qutub Minar, the tallest minaret in India. The height of the chimneys is 141.7 metres, double the height of Qutub Minar.
Over 2,800-km-long pipelines have been used over 2,000 acres of land. The pipelines are long enough to cover distance from Bathinda to Mumbai and even more. The Crude Oil Terminal at Mundra and crude pipeline are sufficient to hold three days of India’s total crude oil requirement.
Apart from being an engineering marvel, the refinery is also self-sustainable in terms of power generation. Located in fuel and power deficient North India, the plant uses its poisonous gases for producing 153-MW of power, thereby, managing the emission that could have harmed the environment.
The present capacity of the refinery is 9 million metric tonnes per annum, which, steel tycoon Laxmi N. Mittal said, would be doubled to 18 million metric tonnes in the years to come.
SPACE RESEARCH RISAT-1 launched successfully On April 26, 2012, a microwave Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) was successfully launched by PSLV, launched from the spaceport at Wheeler Island in Andhra Pradesh. The indigenous RISAT-1, with a life span of five years, would be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry. Its high resolution pictures and microwave imaging could also be used for defence purposes as it can look through the clouds and fog.
The ISRO-made RISAT-1 is the heaviest luggage so far ferried by a PSLV since 1993. This was the 20th successive successful flight of PSLV.
With 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in the space, India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market. The 11 satellites are TES, Resourcesat-1, Cartosat-1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS-1, RISAT-2, Oceansat-2, Resourcesat-2 and Megha-Tropiques.
RISAT-1is synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can acquire data in C-band and would orbit the earth 14 times a day.
In 2009, ISRO had launched 300 kg RISAT-2 with an Israeli built SAR, enabling earth observation in all weather, day and night conditions.
The rocket that delivered RISAT-1 in the space is ISRO’s four stage PSLV’s upgraded variant called PSLV-XL. The letters XL stand for extra large. The six strap-on motors hugging the rocket at the bottom can carry 12 tonnes of solid fuel, as against the base version that has a fuel capacity of nine tonnes.
ISRO had earlier used the PSLV-XL variant for its Chandrayaan-1 moon mission in 2008 and for launching the GSAT-12 communications satellite in 2011.
MISCELLANEOUS How is President of India elected? The Electoral College that votes for the President comprises the elected members of both Houses of Parliament and the elected members of the State Assemblies.
To ensure uniformity in representation of each State according to its population and the total number of elected MLAs from each, a certain value is attached to the vote of an MLA of each State, and a value is also attached to each MP's vote.
The value of an MLA’s vote is calculated by dividing the total population of his State by the total seats in the Vidhan Sabha of that State, and then again dividing it by 1,000.
The value of an MP’s vote is worked out by adding the total value of votes assigned to all MLAs of the country, and then dividing it by the number of elected members of Parliament (both Houses).
For the election, members of the Electoral College mark their order of preference for each candidate on the ballot. A candidate in order to be elected must secure his quota of votes (values added up), which is 50 per cent of valid votes plus 1. Second preference is considered when no candidate wins more than half the total votes.
Web-linked glasses from Google On April 4, 2012, Google offered a look at a previously secret project to develop Internet-connected glasses, staking out a lead position in a futuristic and fast-growing area known as wearable computing.
The glasses, which are still in a prototype stage, would place a small see-through display screen above a person’s eye that can show maps and other data. The wearer could use voice commands to, say, pull up directions or send a message to a friend.
Apple, a major Google rival, is also reportedly working on wearable computers. In April 2008, the company filed a patent for a head-mounted display system that showed glasses with screens.
Some more basic wearable computers are quickly becoming everyday products. Nike, in early 2012, began selling a bracelet called the Fuel-Band that tracks a person’s activity. A company called Jawbone sells a similar monitoring device called “Up”.
Motorola sells a head-mounted display device aimed at business use “Golden-I”, with the screen on an arm that hangs in front of the wearer’s face.