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Current Events 17 May 2016

 

NEWS

17 MAY 2016


GS III: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

ISRO’s Reusable Launch Vehicle to take off next week

The first technology demonstrator (TD) launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV), or the spaceplane in popular parlance, will take place on May 23 at 9.30 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota, according to ISRO officials.

Visually, the RLV-TD is a rocket-aircraft combination measuring about 17 m, whose first stage is a solid propellant booster rocket and the second stage is a 6.5 m long aircraft-like winged structure sitting atop the rocket.

A misnomer

However, the popular perception of the technology as a marriage between rocket and aircraft is a misnomer.

In RLV-TD that is awaiting launch at SHAR, the first stage, weighing about 9 tonnes, is merely the Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-3) flown in the 1980s.

The vehicle will take off like a rocket and the RLV will be taken to a height of 70 km and where the booster will release the vehicle to carry out its manoeuvres.

Hypersonic Experiment 1

According to Dr. K. Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvanathapuram, where the RLV was designed, assembled and where it underwent basic electrical, hydraulic and “sign check” tests, the objective is to achieve hypersonic speeds to basically test the hypersonic aero-thermodynamic characterisation of the winged body’s re-entry, its control and guidance systems, autonomous mission management to land at a specific location at sea and testing of “hot structures” that make up the structure of the RLV.

The test is, therefore, termed as Hypersonic Experiment 1 (HEX-1).

Complex technology

A conventional launch vehicle (LV), says Dr. Sivan, spends the lowest time of its flight in the atmosphere, whereas the RLV system spends all the time in the atmosphere. Also, while an LV experiences limited flight regime of say Mach 0 to Mach 2 or so, the RLV experiences a much wider range of flight regimes.

Hence the technology of an RLV is much more complex basically arising from the design of the control and guidance systems, he pointed out.

In HEX1, the winged RLV is otherwise a dummy with no powered flight of its own. At the end of the HEX1 mission, the aircraft will land in sea. However, the ultimate objective of the RLV programme of ISRO is to enable the vehicle traverse a very wide range of flight regimes from Mach 0 to Mach 25 based on air-breathing propulsion for achieving two-stage-to-orbit (TSTO) launch capability.

The integrated test system (booster plus the RLV-TD) is already at the SDSC (SDSC), Sriharikota. Prior to being moved to Sriharikota, the RLV subsystem underwent acoustic tests at the National Aerospace Laboratories of the CSIR (CSIR-NAL) and the booster went as a separate subsystem directly from VSSC. At SDSC the two were mated together.

Lower cost

Asked whether the Indian reusable launch system was aimed at bringing down the launch cost, the ISRO Chairman said, “It will bring down the cost. Towards that, we will have to work and go through these initial steps,” the Chairman said.

Flying test bed

The present design is basically “a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion using a scramjet engine”, according to ISRO website.


GS II: HEALTH

Infant mortality down in Attappady

Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s comparison of the tribal situation in Attappady with the human development indices of Somalia has brought back national attention to the tribal belt, official figures confirm that infant mortality and neonatal deaths are coming down  in Attappady 

The area witnessed 58 malnutrition-related deaths in 2013. The figure came down to 30 in 2014 and further to 14 in 2015, as per the State Health Department. R. Prabhudas, nodal officer for tribal health in Attappady, said the multipronged approach of the Central and State governments since 2013 had brought down the infant mortality rate. The community kitchen scheme aimed at providing nutritious food to pregnant and lactating mothers, children, and the elderly had helped the cause.

Newborns’ weight

The average weight of newborn babies rose from 1.5 kg to 2.5 kg in these years. Apart from short-term measures like community kitchen and free ration, initiatives aimed at restoring alienated tribal land and helping them in farming are on.

Experts say the grim situation in Attappady is a combined effect of poverty, lack of employment, land alienation, and loss of traditional agriculture and indigenous food. 


GS III: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS 

India’s IPR regime not regressive

The National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy will send a clear message to Washington that India’s IPR regime is not regressive, Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

Sitharaman, however, said India does not recognise “unilateral measures” such as the U.S. Special 301 Report that tries to create pressure on countries to enhance IPR protection beyond the World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of IPRs (TRIPS).

The Special 301 Report — a review of IPR regimes of U.S trading partners — had retained India on the ‘Priority Watch List’ in 2016 for not addressing “long-standing and systemic deficiencies in its (India’s) IPR regime.”

Greater clarity

At the same time India will not undertake commitments beyond TRIPS. Though U.S. concerns on India’s IPR regime include “rejections” of patent applications for innovative pharmaceutical products due to “unpredictable” application of Section 3(d) of (Indian) Patents Act, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had also said that the IPR Policy will ensure that no changes are made in that Section (which prevents ever-greening of drug patents) as well as the patent-disabling Compulsory Licensing (CL).

Compulsory licensing and norms similar to Section 3(d) are among the flexibilities available in international treaties and TRIPS Agreement to ensure availability of essential and life-saving drugs at affordable prices.

Indigenous knowledge

The Policy will also promote ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy.

Copyright violations

Citing instances of several copyright violations (of movies and music) in states like Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra known for entertainment business, Sitharaman said the Centre will work with states for better protection and enforcement of copyrights The Centre will hold roadshows to promote the IPR policy.



GS II: HEALTH

State to provide cheaper generic drugs

Generic medicines may now be available at one-fourth the price of branded medicines at more than 100 subsidised stores that the Centre plans to open in Maharashtra .

Union minister for pharmaceuticals Ananth Kumar, and Minister of State for chemicals and fertiliser Hansraj Gangaram Ahir signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the State government to open 100 Jan Aushadhi Kendras at medical colleges, universities and public places. Maharashtra, on its part, will encourage private entrepreneurs to come forward to open the stores and hold workshops to encourage medical practitioners to prescribe generic drugs from these stores, said Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday.

The central team also announced a comprehensive plan to revive the pharmaceutical sector in the State with heavy investment in opening new institutions, projects and parks in Vidarbha, Marathwada, and Western Maharashtra and Konkan. With the announcement of a Rs 100 crore Bulk Drug Park at Aurangabad, and a Medical Devises Park at Nagpur, Kumar said that India is looking to reduce its dependence on China for import of medicinal raw material and devices. 

The central team has also announced setting up of a National Institute of Pharma Research (NIPER) at Nagpur, and a Medical Devises Park on a 100-acre land with an investment of Rs 600 crore. 


GS III: SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Helium telescope helps to study samples without damaging them

Paul Dastoor of University of Newcastle, who has been working on the scanning helium microscope (SHeM) for two decades, said the new device would enable scientists to study human, animal and plant samples, as well as computer chips and pharmaceutical drugs, without damaging or changing them.

Key industries

The scientist said SHeM could be useful in major industries such as solar energy, defence, explosives and information technology

He said the ground-breaking technology may help find ways of removing carbon monoxide from exhaust gases.

The SHeM could also help with the clean-up of toxic or even radioactive spills, without harming the surrounding flora or fauna, he pointed out.




 

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