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Chandrayaan-2 orbiter healthy in lunar orbit: ISRO official

Bengaluru: The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter is healthy and safe in the Lunar orbit, an ISRO official said after the Vikram lander lost contact with ground stations minutes before the touchdown on Moon's surface early on Saturday.

"The orbiter is healthy, intact, functioning normally and safely in the Lunar orbit," the official told PTI. The mission life of the 2,379-kg orbiter is one year. The orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit. Chandrayaan-2, a follow-on mission to the Chandrayaan-1 mission undertaken more than a decade ago, comprises an orbiter, lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan).

The orbiter carries eight scientific payloads for mapping the lunar surface and study the exosphere (outer atmosphere) of the Moon. ISRO on September two successfully carried out the separation of lander Vikram (with rover Pragyan housed inside) from the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter.

In the early hours of Saturday, communication from 'Vikram' lander to ground stations was lost during its powered descent to the Lunar surface, and ISRO said data is being analysed. "Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 km. Subsequently, the communication from lander to groundstations was lost," ISRO Chairman K Sivan said.


Chandrayaan-2: Setback to moon mission as link with lander lost just 2 km off

Bengaluru: In a last stage snag, communications between India's moon lander Vikram and the orbiter got snapped as the former was only 2.1 km away from its designated landing spot on the moon's South Pole early on Saturday, throwing suspense over the fate of Rs 978 crore Chandrayaan-2 mission.

Announcing loss of the communication link, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Sivan said that the performance of the lander was as per the plan till it was at an altitude of 2.1 km from the moon surface. The communication link got snapped after that, he added. All was going well with the 1,471 kg Vikram that began its descent at about 1.38 a.m. from an altitude of 30 km at a velocity of 1,680 metres per second. The lander was smoothly coming down with ISRO officials applauding at regular intervals and their faces beaming with pride.

The lander successfully completed its rough braking phase with its descent speed going down well. It was then communication was lost, throwing a pall of gloom at the ISRO centre where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and students from across the country had gathered. On the screen it was seen that Vikram slightly changed from its planned path and then the link got snapped. Meanwhile, the 2,379 kg Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to fly around the moon. Its mission life is one year.

Officials at the space agency's telemetry, tracking and command network (Istrac) were checking out the problem and the data was being analysed. While an ISRO scientist said it was possible that the communications got snapped as the lander crash-landed, after losing control when its thrusters were switched off during its descent, another said that all is not lost as far as the mission is concerned. "Only 5 per cent of the mission has been lost - Vikram the lander and Pragyan the rover - while the remaining 95 per cent - that is the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter - is orbiting the moon successfully," an ISRO official told IANS who did not want to be identified.

While the ISRO officials were crestfallen, Prime Minister Modi told them: "Be courageous." Interacting with the gloomy-faced scientists at the control room of the ISTRAC, he said: "Whatever you have done till now is no mean feat." "The the nation is proud of you. You all have served the nation and done a great service to science and mankind. Move ahead with lots of courage. I am with you, hope for the best," he said, patting ISRO Chairman K. Sivan on the back.

Expressing appreciation for their efforts, he said: "We are learning a lot and would continue doing so in future. This journey would continue... Move ahead with courage. President Ram Nath Kovind, in a tweet, also praised the "exemplary courage and commitment" of ISRO and said that the country was proud of it. Other leaders also praised the ISRO and urged its scientists not to lose heart.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the ISRO's attempts in getting the Chandrayaan-2 close to the moon's surface has made every Indian proud. "India stands with our committed and hard working scientists at ISRO. "My best wishes for future endeavours," he tweeted. The Congress said that the entire country stands with the ISRO.

"The nation stands by the entire team of ISRO as we wait in these tense times. Your hard work and commitment has made our nation proud. Jai Hind," the party tweeted. Senior party leader and former President Rahul Gandhi also congratulated the ISRO for their "incredible" work which was an "inspiration to every Indian". Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the ISRO scientists have done a great job on the Chandrayaan-2 Moon mission.

"We are proud of our scientists. They have created history. No need to lose heart. Our scientists have done a great job. Jai Hind!" the Aam Aadmi Party convenor tweeted. Chandrayaan-2 was launched into the space on July 22 by India's heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style. The Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft comprised three segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), 'Vikram' (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover 'Pragyan' (27 kg, two payloads).

After five earth bound orbit raising activities, Chandrayaan-2 was inserted into lunar orbit. The lander Vikram carrying the rover Pragyan separated from Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft on September 2, in its journey towards the moon.


Rafael Nadal advances to his fifth US Open final against Daniil Medvedev

New York: Three-time champion Rafael Nadal advanced to his fifth US Open final with a convincing win over 24th seed Italian challenger Matteo Berrettini at the Flushing Meadows.

On Friday, Nadal wore down the first-time semifinalist 7-6, 6-4, 6-1 under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium and sprinted into the final on Sunday where he will be facing No. 5 seed Daniil Medvedev in what will be a match-up of two of the hottest hard-court players in the world.

The No. 2 seed Spaniard has been in devastating form in this edition of the Grand Slam, losing just one set in his six victories, and that came in the fourth round against Marin Cilic. "The first set was a little frustrating because I had a lot of break points before the tie-break and he didn't have any.

In the tie-break I was a little lucky because he had 5/2 and 4/0. But I survived at that moment and I finally got the break in the second and then the match completely changed," Nadal was quoted as saying by the ATP Tour website.

"I started to play with more calm and aggression. I'm super happy to be back in the final of the US Open." Earlier in the day, Medvedev held off Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov, 7-6, 6-4, 6-3 to enter his first Grand Slam final. The 23-year-old Russian is just the third player in the Open era to reach the Washington, Canada, Cincinnati and US Open finals in the same season, joining Ivan Lendl (1982) and Andre Agassi (1995).


Inflation rate hasn't increased since 2014, it is under control: Nirmala Sitharaman

Kolkata (West Bengal): At a time when the government is at the centre of Opposition's attack after the GDP which slumped to six-year low, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said inflation rate has not increased since 2014 while adding that it is absolutely "under control".

"Inflation rate has not increased since 2014, if you want to raise the issue then you must see the inflation index between 2008-2016. No one can raise questions at our government when it comes to inflation. It is absolutely under control," she told reporters here. Earlier, the finance minister had said that the UPA government led the country in corruption and ran the economy with double-digit inflation through 10 years of their regime. According to government data, the economic growth slowed to a seven-year low to 5 per cent in April to June quarter from 8 per cent a year ago.


India over the moon! All you need to know about Chandrayaan 2 and its significance

New Delhi: As India and the world await Chandrayaan-2's soft-landing on the moon, the significance of landmark space mission has been a point of discussion among the scientist community and social media alike.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has announced that the soft landing of Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lander on the lunar surface is scheduled between 1:30 am to 2:30 am on Saturday, followed by the Rover (Pragyan) roll out between 5:30 am to 6:30 am.

A total number of 38 soft landing attempts on the moon have been made by the space agencies so far with a success rate of 52 per cent. Chandrayaan-2 is India's first attempt at soft-landing on the surface of the moon. This mission will make India the fourth country after the US, Russia, and China to conduct a soft landing on the moon.

Here is how Chandrayaan-2 is different from Chandrayaan-1 - Earlier, India had conducted a moon mission in 2008 with Chandrayaan-1.

According to ISRO website, Chandrayaan-1 was launched by India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C11 on October 22, 2008, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota. The spacecraft made more than 3400 orbits around the moon. Chandrayaan-1 was operational for 312 days till August 29, 2009.

The lift-off mass of Chandrayaan-1 was 1380 kg while Chandrayaan-2 weighs 3850 kg.

Chandrayaan-1 conclusively discovered traces of water on the moon. This was a path-breaking discovery. Chandrayaan-1 also discovered water ice in the North polar region of the Moon.

It also detected Magnesium, Aluminium and Silicon on the lunar surface. Global imaging of the moon was another achievement of this mission.

On the other hand, the Chandryaan-2 is different from the earlier moon mission because it will attempt to soft-land its Vikram module on the lunar surface and deploy a six-wheeled Rover, Pragyaan on the moon to carry out several scientific experiments.

Chandrayaan-2 aims to widen the scientific objectives of Chandrayaan-1 by way of soft landing on the Moon and deploying a rover to study the lunar surface.

The mission life of Orbiter will be one year whereas the mission life of lander (Vikram) and rover (Pragyan) will be one Lunar day which is equal to fourteen earth days.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be at the ISRO today around midnight to watch the event. Over 60 high school students across the country who cleared an online space quiz last month will watch the soft landing of the mission with the Prime Minister.

After revolving around the Earth's orbit for nearly 23 days, the craft began its journey to the moon on August 14. The mission took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on July 22.

India's second mission to the moon was approved by the cabinet in September 2008, just before the launch of Chandrayaan 1. If the mission is successful, it will be yet another feather in the cap for ISRO whose reputation in this field has grown exponentially.


450 questions, 90 hours: P Chidambaram’s gruelling ‘interrogation week’

Senior Congress leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram was sent to Tihar jail on Thursday by a Delhi court where he will spend 14 days in judicial custody in connection with the INX Media corruption case. But before going to Tihar jail, while Chidambaram was in Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody in connection with the INX Media case, he answered 450 questions during 90 hours of gruelling interrogation last week, reported NDTV.

Sources told NDTV, that most of the questions were related to the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) clearances that the former Finance Minister allegedly secured for the company and his son Karti Chidambaram's alleged mail exchanges with the co-accused in the case. The sources further told the leading news channel that Chidambaram was confronted with five other accused and witnesses. He, however, was not confronted with D Subbarao, who was the FIPB chief when the INX media's proposal for foreign funds was cleared.

The week was quite long for former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram. On Monday, after a high-pitch legal drama, the Supreme Court refused him interim protection, asked him to seek interim bail from the trial court and ordered that he be not sent to Tihar. The apex court also extended his CBI custody till Thursday.

On Thursday, a trial court judge put an end to all by ordering that Chidambaram be sent to Tihar jail. Chidambaram's lawyers had begged against any adverse order before the Supreme Court on Monday in the INX Media case, registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). On Tuesday and Wednesday, Chidambaram's lawyers argued in different courts to protect him from being sent to Tihar jail. On Thursday morning, the apex court declined anticipatory bail to Chidambaram in the matter being probed by the Directorate of Enforcement (ED), and later, the Congress leader withdrew the petition against the CBI custody.


Incessant Mumbai rains claim 7 lives across city

At least seven persons were killed in different incidents between Tuesday and Thursday as Mumbai notched record rains in the city and suburbs, which saw the country's commercial capital paralysed for the third time this monsoon.

According to Hindustan Times, a 69-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest while wading through water at Hindmata, a six-year-old boy, a 62-year-old man, and a civic body staff drowned to death in overflowing nullahs at Nalasopara, Bhiwandi, and Goregaon. A man was electrocuted at Taloja and a youth died after jumping into a creek for a swim at Bandra. Ashok Mayekar, 69, died of cardiac arrest after he fainted and fell near the waterlogged Hindmata junction in Dadar (West) on Wednesday around 4.15pm.

Amongst the deceased was 6-year-old Abu Bakar Zafar Khan, who drowned after he fell into an open drain near his house at Nallasopara while playing with his three-year-old brother in the heavy rain on Wednesday. Arshad Qureshi, 24, was washed away when he and his three friends went for a swim in the swollen Mithi River near Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) the same day. In Taloja, Surendra Parmar, 20, was electrocuted to death after he came in contact with a live wire in his shop, on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the body of 62-year-old Lakshman Tapisar who drowned in a nullah in Naikpada, Bhiwandi, on Tuesday, was found on Thursday after a search operation by the Bhiwandi fire brigade and local residents. Even, two on-duty BMC staffers died on Wednesday after falling in rainwater during a heavy downpour at Goregaon in western suburbs. The deceased, identified as Vijayendra Sardar Bagdi (36) and Jagdish Parmar (54), were employees of P/S Ward of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

At least 1,300 persons living on the banks of the Mithi were shifted by the National Disaster Response Force, disaster management cell of the BMC, fire brigade, and the police when the river crossed the danger mark. Teams of Navy, NDRF and other agencies are deployed along the river as a precautionary measure. In neighbouring Palghar and Thane districts, two persons including a seven-year-old boy were washed away in flooded nullahs on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Days after meeting Sonia Gandhi Alka Lamba says goodbye to AAP

New Delhi: Days after meeting Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, AAP's disgruntled MLA Alka Lamba on Friday said the time has come to resign from the primary membership of the Aam Aadmi Party.

Lamba on Tuesday met Gandhi, fuelling speculation of her joining Congress. "The time has come to say Good Bye to #AAP and to resign from the primary membership of the Party.

The past 6years journey was a great learning for me," Lamba said in a tweet on Friday. The AAP MLA from Chandni Chowk had last month announced that she has made up her mind about leaving the party and contest the upcoming Assembly election as an Independent.

Lamba has been at odds with the Aam Aadmi Party for some time now. After the party's defeat in Lok Sabha polls, she had sought accountability from its national convener Arvind Kejriwal. She was then removed from the official WhatsApp group of the party lawmakers.

She had also refused to campaign for the party in the Lok Sabha polls and refrained from participating in Kejriwal's roadshow after she was asked to walk behind his car during the event.

Lamba had first hit a rough patch with the AAP over its decision to pass a resolution to revoke Rajiv Gandhi's Bharat Ratna. Lamba had raised objections to the party's resolution.

In December 2018, she said in a tweet that AAP had asked her to support the resolution, which she refused. Lamba had added that she was ready to face any punishment for her actions.

She started her political career with the Congress, and had served the party in various capacities for around 20 years before joining the AAP.


Tihar Jail, where P Chidambaram is lodged, has 17,400 inmates, including 14,000 undertrials

New Delhi: Former Union minister P Chidambaram is the latest inmate of the Tihar jail here, known to be the largest in Asia with 16 prisons.

Currently, it houses 17,400 inmates, including around 14,000 undertrials, officials said. Chidambaram, a former Union home minister who is just 10 days short of his 74th birthday, was on Thursday taken in a blue police bus to the prison from a special CBI court in Rouse Avenue -- a distance of 18 km -- and was ironically lodged in Jail No.7, where his son Karti was locked up for 12 days in the same INX Media case last year.

Jail No.7 usually houses those facing Enforcement Directorate (ED) cases. Till December 31, 2018, there were 14,938 male and 530 female inmates lodged in the jail -- an increase of 2.02 per cent compared to the numbers as on December 31, 2017.

The hike was due to an increase in the number of undertrials (1.67 per cent). An increase of 2.23 per cent in the number of convicts has been observed compared to last year.

Tihar has housed a number of high-profile inmates, including late Congress leader Sanjay Gandhi, former JNUSU leader Kanhaiya Kumar, RJD chief Lalu Yadav, industrialist Subrata Roy, gangsters Chhota Rajan and Charles Sobhraj, social activist Anna Hazare and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

The convicts in the infamous Nirbhaya gangrape case were also lodged in the jail.


India has never been aggressor but will not hesitate in using its strength to defend itself: Rajnath Singh

Seoul [South Korea]: Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday stated that India has never been an aggressor in history but would not hesitate in using its strength to defend itself.

"India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself," said Singh while addressing a special session of 'Seoul Defence Dialogue' in South Korea's capital. The Union Minister who arrived here on Wednesday with an aim to intensify defence and security ties also outlined that defence diplomacy is "a key pillar of India's strategic toolkit." "In fact, defence diplomacy and maintaining a strong defence force are two sides of the same coin," he added.

Advocating Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'India's Neighborhood First Policy'-- which accords primacy to nations in India's periphery-- the Union Minister noted that a key feature of the approach is also its engagement with its neighbours in sub-regional groupings of Indian-Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), apart from a trilateral maritime cooperation with Sri Lanka and the Maldives to improve Maritime Domain Awareness.

He also gave new mantras to build an open and inclusive architecture in the Indo-Pacific region. "If we work together on the basis of the five principles that have characterised Indian thought and policies for centuries - the principles of Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity), our success is assured," the Defence Minister tweeted.

Singh also said that countries working in harmony among each other must provide the right of equal access to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air to all the nations.

"We advocate an open and inclusive architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN centrality and equal access to the global commons," he added. Singh further stated that he is being optimistic about the outcome as long as all concerned parties are committed to building peace together.

"I thank the Govt of the Republic of Korea for inviting me to address at the 'Seoul Defense Dialogue' which is a prestigious multilateral security dialogue, a forum that offers a sound platform for discussions of the pressing defence and security issues facing the world today," he said. Singh noted that India and South Korea have ancient cultural links between each other. Buddhism spread from India to East Asia and was introduced in Korea over 2000 years ago, he said.

The Minister said that the people of the two South Asian countries are linked through family ties that can be traced to the legendary Queen Heo Hwang-ok, who travelled all the way from Ayodhya to marry King Suro of Gaya in present-day Gimhae. "These linkages form a strong underpinning for our contemporary ties," he said. The Defence Minister also laid a wreath at the National Cemetery in Seoul today.

Upon his arrival here yesterday, Singh met South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-Yon and discussed a wide range of issues pertaining to bilateral ties. The two leaders further noted with appreciation that South Korea's 'New Southern Policy' and India's 'Act East Policy' shared the same perspective and goals. The elevation of bilateral relations to a Special Strategic Partnership in 2015 has heralded a new era in India-Korea relations.

Prime Minister Lee expressed that the South Korean government's desire for active cooperation with India in diplomatic as well as national security and defence policy arenas.

During yesterday's meeting between the South Korean Prime Minister and Defence Minister sides also shared the view that the CEOs Forum will serve as a catalyst for greater industry-level cooperation. The two sides conveyed their good wishes to each other for their efforts in the Korean peninsula and Kashmir respectively. Singh is also expected to hold talks with counterpart Jeong Kyeong-Doo, the Minister of National Defence.

The Defence Minister will also be attending a CEO's Forum today followed by a Business-to-Government (B2G) meeting with the participation of members of the Defence Industry from both sides with an aim to encourage co-operation between defence Industry of India and the Republic of Korea. India is developing strong military hardware cooperation with South Korea as the Indian Army has already inducted the K-9 Vajra self-propelled howitzers built in partnership with the Indian firm Larsen and Toubro.