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India’s third mission to the Moon to be launched in August 2023

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN
Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, October 21: India’s third mission to the Moon Chandrayaan-3 is likely to be be launched in August 2023, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman S. Somnath said here on Thursday.He explained that, while mission parameters will remain the same, there are several changes being made to the design. “The design and engineering are significantly different [compared to Chandrayaan-2] to make it more robust and avoid the problems from last time,” he said on the sidelines of a conference.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is a follow-up of Chandrayaan-2 of July 2019, which aimed to land a rover on the lunar South Pole. It was sent aboard the country’s most powerful geosynchronous launch vehicle, the GSLV-Mk 3. However, lander Vikram, instead of a controlled landing, ended up crash-landing on September 7, 2019, and prevented rover Pragyaan from successfully travelling on the surface of the moon.Had the mission been successful, it would have been the first time a country landed its rover on the moon in its maiden attempt.

The legs that will hold the body of the craft on landing have been made more rugged, there are improved sensors and algorithms to identify sites where the lander can successfully descend safely, and better instrumentation that will provide more resilient back-up systems, said Dr. Somnath.On Sunday, October 23, ISRO is expected to launch 36 satellites aboard its heaviest rocket LVM3 — earlier known as the GSLV Mk3. These satellites belong to British start-up OneWeb and will launch from the spaceport in Andhra Pradesh’s Sriharikota.Telecom major Airtel has a significant stake in OneWeb. A successful mission will greatly improve ISRO’s prospects in the commercial space launch sector where it can use its heaviest rockets to launch heavy payloads.

“There is also a second set of satellites [of OneWeb] that will be launched in February next year,” he added.

Preparations for India’s maiden manned mission into space or Gaganyaan are progressing with an expected launch date of December 2024. “They are going on slow and steady. It requires several critical steps to be crossed. There will be two unmanned missions and four abort missions before we decide on sending the manned mission. Of course, all of them have to be fully successful,” Dr Somnath said.Abort missions refer to test flights to test whether the rocket can carry a module into space and return safely.



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Embassy officer arrested at BIA remanded

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The Embassy official who was attached to the Sri Lanka Embassy in Oman who is accused of being involved in a human trafficking racket was arrested by officers of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and remanded till the 13th of December when he was produced before the Colombo Chief Magistrate

The official was arrested on his arrival at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) this morning (29 November).

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Easter Sunday terror attack suspect hacked to death

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By Norman Palihawadane

A 38-year-old Easter Sunday terror attack suspect was hacked to death yesterday morning (28) in Mattakkuliya.

The victim, Mohamed Badurdeen Mohamed Harnas, was a resident of Safiya Avenue, Mattakkuliya, police said.

A suspect in the Easter Sunday terror attacks, he had been released on bail.

The suspect was rushed to the National Hospital, Colombo, after three individuals, who arrived in a car around 10. 00 am, attacked him.

Two persons attacked the man while the other was keeping the car engine running, according to eyewitnesses. The attackers thereafter fled in the same car.

Harnas was pronounced dead on admission to hospital.

Further investigations in this regard are currently underway.

The victims family members said that Harnas had been taken into custody, following the 2019 Easter Sunday attacks, but later released as there was no evidence of his involvement in terrorist activities.

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Rail service between Mahawa and Jaffna to be suspended for five months

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Transport Minister Bandula Gunawardena told Parliament yesterday that the railway services between Mahawa and Jaffna will be suspended for a period of five months in 2023.

The Minister said that operations will be suspended from January 15, 2023.

The Minister said it was to repair work on the railway line.

He said so in response to a question raised by Vanni District MP Selvam Adaikalanathan.

“We are focusing our attention on the request made by you. We have to halt railway operations between Mahawa and Jaffna for five months from January 2023. Train services have been continuously operating to Jaffna, but now we have faced a situation as we have not been able to carry out any repair work thus far,” the Minister said.

Assuring that this issue can be rectified in five months, Minister Gunawardane said that, thereafter, a good railway service can be provided for this route.

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