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September 15, 2007

Indian satellite INSAT-4CR placed in orbit

The geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle GSLV-F04 on September 1 placed the INSAT-4CR satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO). India's latest communications satellite is expected to boost direct-to-home (DTH) TV services.

The geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle GSLV-F04 lifted off at 6.20 P.M. on a cloudy evening. Seventeen minutes into the flight, 5,000 km from the launch pad and somewhere over Indonesia, the rocket launched the INSAT-4CR satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

The successful launch has prompted ISRO to target 5-10 percent of the global satellite launch market.

"We can offer very competitive satellite launch rates, nearly 40 percent cheaper than the prevailing rates. In the small satellite launch market our rates are lower by 20 percent," Nair said.

The INSAT-4CR satellite carries 12 Ku-band 36 MHz bandwidth transponders that will be used for boosting DTH, digital newsgathering, and VSAT services. The satellite's footprint covers the Indian main land. Congratulating the scientists on the successful launch, Nair said: "The successful launch has proved the rocket is a dependable one."

B.N. Suresh, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre here, echoed his words. "The perfect launch has proved GSLV is a robust rocket."

The launch, originally scheduled for 4.21 P.M. was put on hold 15 seconds prior to the lift-off as the automatic launch sequence check done by the mission computers detected anomalies in the rocket's parameters.

But for the 120-minute delay, it was a textbook launch as the rocket's three-stage motors performed flawlessly, scientists said. Also, the perfect injection of the satellite into orbit would enable it perform optimally during its 10-year lifespan, they added. INSAT-4CR is the third satellite in the INSAT-4 series.

The first two - INSAT-4A and 4B were launched in 2005 and 2006 by European Ariane launch vehicle. The launch of INSAT-4C in July 2006 had ended in failure.

After the successful launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said it was targeting 5-10 percent of the global satellite launch market.

"We can offer very competitive satellite launch rates, nearly 40 percent cheaper than the prevailing rates. In the small satellite launch market our rates are lower by 20 percent," ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said.

Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh congratulated the Indian space scientists and technologists involved in the successful launch of a rocket that put the country's latest communications satellite into orbit.

In a message, Ansari noted that the successful launch further validated the immense economic and strategic importance of the country's space programme.

Prime Minister Singh congratulated Nair and his team over the phone soon after the launch. "The prime minister also expressed his confidence in ISRO and the other related space industries," Nair said.

Five-nation Naval exercise: Malabar 2007

A multilateral naval drill involving India, the U.S. and three other nations was held in the Bay of Bengal from September 4 to 9, an event that India says is a pointer to the country's growing importance on the world stage.

This is the first time a joint exercise on this scale involving 25 vessels was conducted off India's eastern seaboard and New Delhi has repeatedly sought to allay apprehensions that the drill had military overtones.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony said: "Our armed forces exercise with most of the important countries. Every year this is expanding... India's importance is growing. Almost all countries want to engage with us. It's a good thing. It's a recognition of India's prestige and reliability."

The operational area of Malabar-2007 stretched from Vizag on the eastern seaboard to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that guard the approaches to the Strait of Malacca, considered the world's busiest waterway.

The Malabar series is now in its 13th year. The drill has previously been a bilateral India-U.S. engagement and has been expanded for the first time.

The U.S. Navy had the largest representation during Malabar-2007 with 13 warships, including the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. The other vessels included the conventionally-powered carrier USS Kitty Hawk, the nuclear submarine USS Chicago, two guided-missile cruisers, and six guided-missile destroyers.

Seven warships, including the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, represented the Indian Navy. Viraat's Sea Harrier jets and Sea King helicopters, and the Indian Air Force's Jaguar deep-penetration strike aircraft were also seen in action.

Australia was represented by a frigate and a tanker, Japan by two destroyers and Singapore by a frigate.

In 2002, the exercises comprised basic passing manoeuvres among naval vessels, anti-submarine exercises and replenishment-at-sea drills. In 2003 and 2004, Malabar participants included advanced assets like the USS Alexandria, a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine.

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Sonia, Nooyi in Forbes top 100

Congress president Sonia Gandhi has been placed sixth, a notch behind Indra Nooyi, the Indian American chairman and chief executive of PepsiCo, in the Forbes list of the world's 100 most powerful women.

Ranking Angela Merkel, the first woman to become chancellor of Germany, No. 1 for the second year in a row, the U.S. business magazine said, "She continued to impress the world with her cool leadership at two back-to-back summits."

Gandhi, "the Italian-born leader of India's most powerful political party, the Indian National Congress Party, has come far since entering politics in the 1990s", Forbes said.

Sonia Gandhi, the magazine said, is "widely revered by her fellow countrymen, especially among India's poor as well as its vast agricultural population" and is concerned that India's rapid economic growth is leaving the poor behind, and that her country is not doing enough to help its farmers.

The magazine said Nooyi has been steadily consolidating her power at PepsiCo, one of the largest companies in the world with $35 billion in annual revenue and a $105 billion market capitalisation.

India to be top suger producer

India is expected to overtake Brazil as the world's top sugar producer in 2007/08 (October/September), the International Sugar Organisation (ISO) said on September 10.

The London-based ISO forecast in its latest monthly report that Indian sugar output in 2007/08 was at an all-time high of 33.15 million tonnes, up 8 percent year-on-year.

India, the world's top sugar consumer, has exported 1.5 million tonnes of white sugar since January this year, when a ban on overseas sales ended, the ISO said, quoting industry reports.

"This indicates that logistical infrastructure bottlenecks are not as tight as previously expected in some quarters and the industry may ship significantly more than 3 million tonnes of sugar a year," the ISO said.

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India develops Brahmos

India has developed a submarine-launched supersonic missile, a capability until now the monopoly of advanced nations like the U.S., France, Russia and some others. The submarine-launched version of Brahmos supersonic cruise missile was ready, Defence Minister A.K. Antony informed Lok Sabha on September 5.

He, however, said trials of the missile were awaiting the necessary platform, which would be identified by the navy soon.

According to experts, the submarines in the armoury of the navy, the German HDW series and the Russian Kilo class do not have the capability to launch such missiles.

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