Single Indian rocket puts satellites in three orbits, in first for nation

India launched a domestic intelligence satellite along with 28 foreign satellites. (AFP)
Updated 02 April 2019

Single Indian rocket puts satellites in three orbits, in first for nation

  • India became the fourth country last week to shoot down a satellite
  • The country hopes to complete its second lunar exploration program this year

NEW DELHI: An Indian rocket on Monday placed domestic and foreign satellites in three different orbits on a single flight, a first for the nation and a low-cost option that could burnish its reputation for pioneering affordable options in space.
The launch of a domestic intelligence satellite and 28 foreign ones came less than a week after India used an anti-satellite missile to take down one of its own satellites, demonstrating a capability only China, Russia and the United States had possessed previously.
The state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said 24 satellites from the United States, two from Lithuania and one each from Spain and Switzerland were positioned in Monday’s launch, in addition to India’s EMISAT satellite.
“This particular mission is very special for ISRO,” its chairman, K. Sivan, said after the launch from India’s southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.
“This is for the first time the PSLV is carrying out three orbital missions in a single flight,” he said in a speech, referring to the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle family of rockets.
Sivan, who previously told media the “three-in-one” launch would help cut costs, said the agency aimed to complete 30 more missions this year, including India’s second lunar exploration program known as the Chandrayaan-2.
Among the satellites in Monday’s launch are 20 earth-imaging satellites of Planet Labs Inc, a private satellite operator based in San Francisco.
Two of the satellites, one from Lithuania and another from Switzerland, will be used for the “Internet of Things,” or connecting physical devices to the Web, the agency added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the agency on the launch and said his government was working on raising citizens’ interest in science and their respect for scientists.
ISRO wants companies such as state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Mumbai-based conglomerate Larsen & Toubro to build its rockets in future.
Last year India said it expected to spend less than 100 billion rupees ($1.4 billion) on its first manned space mission to be launched by 2022, suggesting it is likely to be cheaper than similar projects by the United States and China.
India’s 2014 launch of an unmanned Mars mission cost $74 million, just a fraction of the $671 million spent by US space agency NASA on its MAVEN Mars mission.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 33 min 26 sec ago

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.