On Wednesday, in the face of growing rivalry with China, the United States announced a new alliance with Australia and Britain. To strengthen military capabilities the alliance will include a new Australian nuclear submarine fleet and cruise missiles.
The announcement of the alliance was made by US President Joe Biden, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and his British counterpart Boris Johnson in a video meeting. France, which is negotiating a multibillion-dollar deal for conventional submarines with Australia is also pushed back. Biden and other leaders stressed that the submarines will be powered with nuclear reactors and will not be nuclear-armed. According to Biden, allowing Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines, will lead to the most modern capabilities they need to maneuver and defend against rapidly evolving threats.
The official said that despite not carrying the nuclear weapon, the new submarine will allow the nation to “play at a much higher level”. At the time of signing the contract for the submarine with France, it was worth around Aus$50 billion. The overall deal is estimated to be AUS$90 billion after taking into account currency fluctuation and cost overruns. The contract got tangled in Australian domestic politics due to over budget and the company agreed to build 12 conventional Attack Class subs after the order was years behind schedule.
After Elon Musk visits space from SpaceX, the company sends its first all-civilian crew into Earth’s orbit. From Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX Flacon 9 rocket carrying four space tourists blasted off on Wednesday night.
The launch was followed by a huge fireball illuminating the sky as the nine rocket engines began to pull away from the Earth at 8:02 pm (0002 GMT Thursday). Soon after the 11th minute the Dragon capsule separated from the rocket and sent stage as the crew entered orbit. In a vertical landing on a sea barge, the re-usable first stage made its way back to the Earth. For the first time, the Dragon capsule is equipped with a cupola observation dome, the largest space window ever for a better view. It was replaced by the usual mechanism used on Dragons to dock with the ISS.
The crew of four people, all Americans on a three-day trip will spin around Earth after which they will splash down off the Florida coast. The cost of the trip hasn’t been disclosed by the billionaire Elon Musk but the price tag runs into the tens of millions of dollars.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s newest Mars rover has successfully collected its first rock as the sample. The sample will be brought to Earth after its failed attempt the previous month.
Adam Stelzner, who is the chief engineer of the Perseverance rover tweeted on Thursday, said it was a perfect core sample and he had never been happier to see a hole in a rock. The rover had drilled into much softer rock a month ago but the sample crumbled and didn’t get inside the titanium tube. However, the rover tried again and drove more than a half mile to search for a better sampling spot. Meanwhile, the team members analyzed the data and pictures ahead of declaring it as a success.
In February, the Perseverance rover arrived at Mars Jezero carter in search of rocks that might hold the evidence of ancient life. It is believed to be the home of a lush lakebed and the river delta billions of years ago.
More spacecraft are being planned to launch by NASA to retrieve the samples collected by the Perseverance. The engineers of NASA are hoping to return more than three dozen samples in about a decade.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory announced a key achievement in fusion research. Fusion is the lesser-known opposite reaction to nuclear fission that happens when the two atoms slam together to form a heavier atom and release energy. This is the way the sun makes energy.
The lab announced that they produced 1.3 megajoules of energy at its National Ignition Facility. The experiment was carried out on August 8, which has around 70% of the laser energy delivered to the fuel capsule. The institute is on the verge of achieving its longstanding goal in nuclear fusion research. It’s the experiment to suggest the goal of “ignition” where the energy released by fusion exceeds that delivered by the laser, is now within touching distance. The process that powers the Sun can provide a limitless clean energy course.
The inertial confinement fusion involves 192 beams from NIF’s laser which is the highest energy example in the world directed towards a peppercorn sized capsule that contains deuterium and tritium. They are the different forms of the element hydrogen.
The facilities that can provide energy to the grid and will require another giant leap to build it commercially.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) mission failed early on Thursday morning. The state-of-the-art Geo Imaging Satellite (Gisat-1) faced a setback.
As per the AsiaOne report, at 5:43 am the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10 (GSLV-F10) took off on schedule and the core stage burnt out according to the plan propelling the rocket in its intended path. The second stage of the ignition also happened as planned with a two minutes curvet into the launch, and payload fairing was confirmed by the mission control. The tense moment for ISRO started soon after the second stage shut off. The cryogenic stage was not able to ignite which led to the mission failure. ISRO chairman Mr. K Sivan addressed the team of scientists and engineers at the Sriharikota that the failure was due to the technical anomaly in the cryogenic stage because of which the mission could not be accomplished.
A failure analysis committee (FAC) will be formed by the ISRO which will analyze the reason behind the failure for the anomaly. According to AsiaOne magazine, this was the third attempt by the space agency at launching the satellite. The satellite is to be the advanced “eye in the sky” which is designed to provide near real-time images of large “areas of the region of interest” at frequent intervals.
The very first aircraft carrier Made-In-India Vikrant sets sail for Maiden Trials. Vikrant is the largest and most complex warship which India has ever designed and built. Vikrant is 262 meters long, a maximum of 62m wide, and 59m high which includes the superstructure. It has 14 decks out of which 5 are in the superstructure. It is designed to billet around 1700 people which has more than 2,300 compartments including cabins for accommodating women officers, as reported to Asia News.
On Wednesday, the warship Vikrant set off for its sea trial 50 years after its namesake’s key role in the 1971 war. The aircraft is expected to be commissioned into service next year. According to AsiaOne Magazine reports, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that the Navy will be added with a superior combat capability range and versatility. Indian registered its name in the list of nations having niche capability to indigenously design, build and integrate. It’s a state-of-the-art aircraft carrier. Amid the pandemic achieving this milestone was made possible by the dedicated efforts of all stakeholders. Indian navy marks this day as an extremely proud and historic day for reincarnating its warship Vikrant.
Mr. Rajnath Singh calls it a true testimony to their unwavering commitment towards “Atma Nirbhar Bharat” in defense.
On Thursday Russia upgraded its capabilities on the International Space Station (ISS) after its new Nauka module successfully docked after a strained journey from Earth. The delayed launch was due in 2017 but the vessel suffered repeated slips in the schedule. The budget difficulties were also seen in parts and engineers encountered a raft of technical problems during development.
The module is 13 meters long and 20 tonnes which was driven into the rear of the orbiting platform, linking up with the other major Russian segments on the ISS. A week after its launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, it experienced propulsion issues that required a workaround from controllers in Moscow. However, the issue got resolved and it made its docking with the station on the planned date.
The system was on autonomous mode which brought the module into close proximity later which was manually controlled by Oleg Novitsky from inside the ISS for the last few meters of approach. The Nauka was flying above Mongolia and China at an altitude of 420km while the time of connection. The extra space was required to conduct the experiments, to store cargo, and also as a rest area. It is equipped with another toilet for the crew to use the station.
Vaccine maker BioNTech will be using mRNA technology to develop a “highly effective” malaria vaccine. It is looking to replicate the success of its Pfizer-partnered mRNA-based COVID-19 jab to make a stronger malaria vaccine.
The two-pronged approach of the biotech company is to develop the vaccine candidate for malaria and to boost mRNA manufacturing capabilities to the African continent. The project aims to assess multiple vaccine candidates using mRNA technology to plan and target the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) and new antigens discovered in the pre-clinical research stage.
BioNTech is set to select the Most promising mRNA vaccine candidate post-pre-clinical phase and aims to commence a clinical trial for the first vaccine candidate by the end of 2022. BioNTech will also collaborate with the African Union and the Africa CDC under the partnership for Vaccine Manufacturing program to ensure its enabling factors. The project is also part of the kENUP foundation who aims to accelerate the eradication of infectious disease malaria.
CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin said that they plan to reduce the mortality rate and ensure a sustainable solution for the African continent and other regions affected by this disease. They include cutting-edge research and innovation for significant investments in vaccine development and transfer of manufacturing expertise to production sites in Africa and wherever it is needed.
Billionaire businessman Jeff Bezos offered to cover up to $2 billion of NASA costs if the U.S. space agency awards his company a contract to make the spacecraft designed to land astronauts back on the moon. On Monday, freshly after his trip to space he offered this deal for his company Blue Origin.
In April NASA awarded Bezos’ rival- billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company-SpaceX a $2.9 billion a contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the Moon’s surface. The project will take place in 2024. Earlier NASA rejected the bid from Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics where the company had partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT.N), Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC.N), and Draper in the bid. Due to funding shortage, NASA could not award the contract to only one company and not two as expected.
After the request from Congress, the space agency had received only $850 million of the $3.3 billion. Blue Origin has filed a protest after losing out to SpaceX with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), claiming NASA has unfairly moved the goalposts at the last minute in a way that it awarded the contract to SpaceX.
Approximately six million doses of Johnson and Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine are to be delivered to African Nations. The African Union decided to deliver 27 African nations who have paid for the shipment through the end of August.
African coronavirus envoy Strive Masiyiwa addressed the nation by saying 18 countries are finalizing loans from the World Bank and other global lenders before they make the payment. Delivery will be carried out at an average of 10 million a month from 2021 September. Which will gradually be increased to 20 million till January until the order is fulfilled by September next year. Masiyiwa further added that local production is the real answer and the balance of Africa’s vaccine requirements will come from donors including COVAX.
The countries have been eagerly waiting for this shipment as 29 countries currently are struggling with a severe third wave of the pandemic. Third-wave is stretching the capacity of the hospitals and causing oxygen and bed shortages in intensive care units. The African Union is targeting to vaccinate 60% of the continent’s population in a year. The signed deal with Johnson and Johnson will provide the doses in 18 months.