India launches pint-sized satellite designed by students

The Indian Space Research Organization launches the miniature satellite Kalamsat V2, built at a cost of 1.2 million rupees, with other payload at the Sriharikota space center in southern Andhra Pradesh state on Thursday. (AFP)
Updated 25 January 2019
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India launches pint-sized satellite designed by students

  • The 10-centimeter cube satellite, named Kalamsat V2, weighs just 1.2 kilograms
  • The launch was another feather in the cap for the Indian Space Research Organization

SRIHARIKOTA, India: A lightweight satellite designed by students that can be held in the palm of the hand has been launched by Indian scientists, burnishing the country’s credentials in miniature design technology.
The 10-centimeter (four-inch) cube satellite, named Kalamsat V2, weighs just 1.2 kilograms (2.6 pounds), according to students from the private Space Kidz India group who designed the celestial unit.
It was launched from the Sriharikota space center in southern Andhra Pradesh state on Thursday, drawing praise from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Heartiest congratulations to our space scientists for yet another successful launch of PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). This launch has put in orbit Kalamsat, built by India’s talented students,” Modi tweeted.
The launch was another feather in the cap for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which won Asia’s race to Mars in 2014 when one of its spacecrafts reached the Red Planet on a shoestring budget.
India has been vying for a larger slice of the booming commercial satellite launch business as phone, Internet and other companies seek expanded and more high-end communications.
The Kalamsat V2 was built at a cost of 1.2 million rupees ($16,900), said Srimathy Kesan, the CEO and founder of Space Kidz India.
It will serve as a communications satellite for ham radio transmissions used by amateurs for non-commercial activities.
In 2017 an even smaller satellite, weighing just 64 grams and designed by the same group, was launched in the US aboard a NASA rocket, but never reached orbit.
The main payload on Thursday’s launch was the 740-kilogram Microsat-R that will be used to take high-resolution photos of Earth for defense research.
India has made giant strides in its space journey, launching a record 104 satellites in a single mission in 2017. It has also built a reputation as a reliable low-cost option for space exploration.


EU adopts powers to respond to cyberattacks

Updated 17 May 2019
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EU adopts powers to respond to cyberattacks

  • The EU can now impose asset freezes and travel bans on individuals, firms and state bodies implicated in cyberattacks
  • Sanctions will be considered if a cyberattack is determined to have had a ‘significant impact’ on its target

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Friday adopted powers to punish those outside the bloc who launch cyberattacks that cripple hospitals and banks, sway elections and steal company secrets or funds.
EU ministers meeting in Brussels said the 28-nation group would now, for the first time, be able to impose asset freezes and travel bans on individuals, firms and state bodies implicated in such attacks.
“The Council (of EU countries) established a framework which allows the EU to impose targeted restrictive measures to deter and respond to cyberattacks,” it said in a statement.
It added that sanctions will be considered if a cyberattack is determined to have had a “significant impact” on its target.
The goal is to bolster the security of EU institutions, firms and individuals against what Britain called an increase in the “scale and severity” of cyberattacks globally.
“This is decisive action to deter future cyberattacks,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said after Britain and its EU partners drafted the measures.
“For too long now, hostile actors have been threatening the EU’s security through disrupting critical infrastructure, attempts to undermine democracy and stealing commercial secrets and money running to billions of euros,” Hunt said.
“Our message to governments, regimes and criminal gangs prepared to carry out cyberattacks is clear,” Britain’s top diplomat added.
“Together, the international community will take all necessary steps to uphold the rule of law and the rules based international system which keeps our societies safe.”
The British government has pledged to continue close cooperation with the EU after it leaves the bloc in line with the 2016 referendum.
Under the sanctions regime, diplomats said, the 28 EU countries would have to vote unanimously to impose sanctions after meeting a legal threshold of significant impact.
For example, countries would look at the scope and severity of disruption to economic and other activities, essential services, critical state functions, public order or public safety, diplomats said.
They would examine the number of people and EU countries affected and determine how much money, intellectual property and data have been stolen.
EU diplomats told reporters it could also cover the hacking of European elections by a third party or country. Elections for a new European Parliament take place May 23-26.
In line with US intelligence assessments, EU officials highlight in particular the threat of disinformation and election hacking from Russia.
EU countries would also study how much the perpetrator has gained through such action.
A Dutch diplomat told reporters that the powers amount to a “big step forward” toward building a more secure cyberspace.
European leaders in October had called for a regime to impose sanctions against cyberattacks.
US and European police said Thursday they have smashed a huge international cybercrime network that used Russian malware to steal 100 million dollars from tens of thousands of victims worldwide.
EU diplomats said the bloc will now start drawing up a blacklist for potential sanctions in cyberattack cases.
A number of powerful people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin appear on a blacklist of 164 Russians and Ukrainians that was established after Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014.
Those blacklisted are under travel bans and asset freezes just like those that would be imposed on those implicated in cyberattacks.