India’s Upcoming Mars Mission to Feature a Helicopter: A Giant Leap for Space Exploration

india on mars

India’s upcoming Mars mission is set to take inspiration from NASA’s Ingenuity drone by including a helicopter in its plans. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is currently developing this concept, with the aim of launching it alongside an Indian Mars lander in the early 2030s.

India’s first mission to Mars, known as the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) or “Mangalyaan,” successfully entered orbit around the Red Planet in September 2014, following its launch in November 2013. The spacecraft conducted scientific research in Mars’ orbit for eight years until contact with Earth was lost in 2022.

ISRO’s upcoming Mars mission is expected to be even more ambitious. Jayadev Pradeep, a scientist from the Space Physics Laboratory at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, revealed during a recent webinar that the mission will feature a helicopter designed for Mars landings. This helicopter will carry a range of scientific instruments for aerial exploration of the planet, as reported by India Today.

The planned scientific payloads for the drone include sensors to measure temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed, electric fields, as well as trace species and dust distribution in the Martian atmosphere. The helicopter will be capable of flying up to 328 feet (100 meters) above the Martian surface, allowing for detailed profiling of the planet’s atmosphere. In comparison, NASA’s Ingenuity drone reached altitudes of up to 79 feet (24 meters) during its flights and covered a horizontal distance of 10.5 miles (17 kilometers) over its impressive operational period.

Ingenuity made history by successfully landing on Mars’ Jezero Crater alongside NASA’s Perseverance rover in February 2021. It not only demonstrated the possibility of flight in the thin Martian atmosphere but also exceeded all expectations. Initially planned for five technology-demonstrating flights, this 4-pound (1.8 kilograms) chopper completed a remarkable 72 sorties on Mars before concluding its mission.

Categorized as Aerospace

Breaking Barriers: Private US Moon Lander Launches into History

A moon lander crafted by Intuitive Machines, an aerospace company based in Houston, took off from Florida on Thursday for its mission to carry out the United States’ first lunar touchdown in over fifty years. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, led by Elon Musk, successfully carried the company’s Nova-C lander, known as Odysseus, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. Cheers rang out as the rocket soared into the sky, leaving a trail of fiery exhaust behind. Shortly after launch, at around 139 miles above Earth, the lander was detached from Falcon 9’s upper stage and gently floated away towards the moon. “IM-1 Odysseus lunar lander separation confirmed,” a mission controller proclaimed. Meanwhile, in Houston, mission operations teams eagerly awaited the first signals from the lander, signaling that it had safely powered up its systems and aligned itself in space. This particular mission, although led by Intuitive Machines, includes six NASA payloads meant to collect valuable data about the lunar environment in preparation for NASA’s upcoming manned lunar missions. Just a month prior, Astrobotic Technology’s lunar lander experienced a propulsion system leak on its way to the moon. This recent achievement stands in stark contrast to the setbacks faced by other private companies attempting lunar landings, with previous attempts from companies in Israel and Japan falling short of a “soft landing” on the lunar surface.


NASA’s reliance on the commercial sector for its spaceflight goals has been highlighted by recent mishaps. These incidents serve as a reminder of the risks involved in leaning heavily on private companies. However, despite these challenges, NASA remains determined to push forward with its plans.

One such plan involves the Odysseus spacecraft, which is set to make a weeklong journey to the moon’s south pole, with a planned landing on February 22nd at crater Malapert A. If successful, this mission will mark the first controlled descent to the lunar surface by a U.S. spacecraft since the Apollo missions in 1972, and it will also be the first time a private company achieves this feat.

This milestone will not only be a significant achievement for the private sector but also a crucial step in NASA’s Artemis moon program. With China also aiming to land its own crewed spacecraft on the moon, there is a race to return astronauts to Earth’s natural satellite. NASA’s strategy of partnering with private companies to reduce costs is being put to the test with missions like Odysseus.

In the past, NASA would purchase rockets and technology from the private sector but would own and operate them itself. However, the Artemis missions are taking a different approach by utilizing spacecraft built and owned by private companies. This shift in strategy is aimed at slashing costs and paving the way for future human exploration of Mars.

While NASA has recently announced a delay in its target date for a crewed Artemis moon landing, pushing it to late 2026, China has set its sights on 2030. In the meantime, smaller landers like Nova-C will be deployed to survey the lunar landscape, its resources, and potential hazards. Odysseus, on the other hand, will focus on studying space weather interactions, radio astronomy, precision landing technologies, and navigation.

The lunar south pole will see more activity in the coming years, with Intuitive Machine’s IM-2 mission scheduled for 2024, followed by an IM-3 mission later in the same year, which will include several small rovers. Other countries have also made their mark on the moon, with Japan achieving a precise landing with its SLIM probe last month, becoming the fifth nation to do so. India, too, joined the ranks last year, while Russia faced a failed attempt. As NASA continues to navigate the challenges and risks associated with relying on the commercial sector, the future of space exploration holds great promise.

Categorized as Aerospace

ISRO Achieves Yet Another Milestone with Successful INSAT-3DS Launch​

insat 3ds launch

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully conducted four flight trials of the High-speed Expendable Aerial Target (HEAT) ‘ABHYAS’ at the Integrated Test Range in Chandipur, Odisha. These trials, which took place from January 30 to February 2, validated various parameters including endurance, speed, manoeuvrability, altitude, and range. Compared to imported equivalents, ‘ABHYAS’ is cost-effective and requires minimal logistics.

The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) of DRDO designed the flights to provide a realistic threat scenario for practicing weapon systems. The autopilot, developed indigenously by ADE, enables autonomous flying. The trials utilized a single booster designed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory in Hyderabad, which provided reduced launch acceleration. The objectives, such as safe booster release, launcher clearance, and achieving the required end-of-launch velocity, were successfully accomplished.

‘ABHYAS’ is equipped with a radar cross-section, visual and Infrared augmentation system, and a laptop-based Ground Control System. This system facilitates aircraft integration, pre-flight checks, data recording during the flight, replay after the flight, and post-flight analysis. The manufacturing units of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Larsen & Toubro (L&T) Defence were involved in the realization of the recently tested systems.

With its export potential for friendly countries, ‘ABHYAS’ is now ready for production.

The main goals of the mission are to monitor the Earth’s surface, conduct oceanic observations, and study the environment using different spectral channels that are important for meteorology. Additionally, it aims to provide valuable data on various meteorological parameters of the atmosphere, collect and disseminate data from Data Collection Platforms, and offer satellite-aided search and rescue services. The INSAT-3DS Satellite is a continuation of the Third Generation Meteorological Satellite and operates from a geostationary orbit. It is specifically designed to enhance meteorological observations, monitor land and ocean surfaces for weather forecasting, and issue disaster warnings. This satellite will work in conjunction with the already operational INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR satellites, thereby strengthening meteorological services. The Indian Industries have played a significant role in the development of this satellite. Various departments of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, including the India Meteorology Department, National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, National Institute of Ocean Technology, Indian National Center for Ocean Information Services, and other agencies and institutes, will utilize the data from the INSAT-3DS Satellite to provide improved weather forecasts and meteorological services. The GSLV, a three-stage launch vehicle measuring 51.7 meters in length and weighing 420 tonnes at liftoff, will be used for this mission. The first stage (GS1) consists of a solid propellant motor with 139 tonnes of propellant, along with four earth-storable propellant stages (L40) strapons, each carrying 40 tonnes of liquid propellant. The second stage (GS2) is also an earth-storable propellant stage with 40 tonnes of propellant. The third stage (GS3) is a cryogenic stage with a propellant loading of 15 tonnes of liquid oxygen (LOX) and liquid hydrogen (LH2). The GSLV is capable of launching various types of spacecraft for communication, navigation, earth resource surveys, and other specific missions.

Categorized as Aerospace

Pushing Boundaries: Exploring the Fascinating World of Self-Eating Rocket Prototype Engines that Go BOOM!

A groundbreaking autophage rocket engine has been developed by a team of researchers from the University of Glasgow. This innovative design utilizes waste heat from combustion to melt its plastic fuselage and use it as fuel. The concept, which was patented in 1938, aims to create an infinitely staged rocket that is highly efficient in reaching orbit.

According to Patrick Harkness, the professor of exploration technology at the University of Glasgow who spearheaded the project, the idea of an autophage rocket has been around for decades. However, due to its complexity and the lack of a business case for small payloads, it has not been widely explored until now.

The engine operates by burning high-density polyethylene plastic tubing along with liquid propane and gaseous oxygen, which serve as the main propellants. As the rocket ascends to orbit, it gradually consumes the plastic tubing, which is fed into the combustion chamber. This unique feature allows the rocket to carry larger payloads compared to other vehicles of similar mass, as it requires less propellant from Earth.

Named Ouroborous-3 after the ancient Egyptian symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, the rocket represents the concept of self-destruction and rebirth. The researchers successfully test-fired the prototype rocket engine at the MachLab facility, located at Machrihanish Airbase. These controlled experiments demonstrated a thrust of 100 newtons.

This groundbreaking development in rocket technology opens up new possibilities for more efficient space exploration and payload delivery. The autophage rocket engine showcases the potential of utilizing waste materials as a source of fuel, paving the way for future advancements in the field.

In 2018, the initial test was conducted. Through the latest test, the researchers have successfully demonstrated the feasibility of utilizing more powerful liquid propellants for the engine. Additionally, they have proven that the plastic fuselage can endure the necessary forces to propel it into the engine.

Furthermore, the tests have revealed the rocket’s ability to control, regulate, restart, and pulse its burn in an alternating pattern. Moving forward, the researchers are focused on developing a prototype of a lightweight engine for flight and incorporating liquid oxidizers.

“Our objective is to increase the scale by approximately two orders of magnitude, while remaining within the boundaries of our specialization in nanolaunchers,” stated Harkness. This rocket has the potential to directly transport minuscule nanosatellites into orbit, eliminating the need for expensive missions on conventionally fueled rockets.

Another significant advantage of this rocket is its self-consumption before reaching orbit, preventing it from becoming additional space debris. This addresses the growing concern of space clutter and its potential hazards.

Categorized as Aerospace

The ‘Flying Ginsu’ missile obliterates Iraqi militia leader in daring strike

Bagdhad missile

The Pentagon recently utilized a modified Hellfire missile, known as the “flying Ginsu,” to target a senior member of Kataib Hezbollah in Baghdad. This unique weapon, equipped with six blades, was employed as a response to the group’s involvement in attacks against US forces in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan.

Although not commonly acknowledged by official defense sources, the ‘Ginsu’ missile is specifically designed for precise strikes, particularly against high-value targets in densely populated areas. Its purpose is to minimize collateral damage by utilizing blades instead of explosives, ensuring the destruction of the intended target while reducing risks to nearby civilians and infrastructure.

The utilization of the ‘Ginsu’ missile highlights a strategic shift in US counterterrorism tactics, emphasizing precision and the protection of civilians. Similar weapons have been employed in previous strikes against prominent targets, including leaders of al-Qaida and the Islamic State. This approach reflects the US’s endeavor to navigate complex political landscapes, such as Iraq, where the safety of civilians is of utmost importance.

While the ‘Ginsu’ missile aims to minimize collateral damage, concerns persist regarding its legality under international law. Human rights experts caution that such strikes must be based on accurate intelligence to ensure compliance with legal standards. Iraq’s military has condemned the strike, labeling it as an assassination and a violation of sovereignty.

The use of the ‘Ginsu’ missile indicates a potential reconfiguration of US military involvement in the region. As tensions escalate, the US’s approach to security concerns and counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East may continue to evolve, underscoring the complexity of the region’s geopolitical landscape.     

Categorized as Aerospace

NASA and Moog’s Air Taxi Noise Tests Make Noise Reduction Possible!

Air taxis have the potential to completely transform the way we travel through the skies. NASA is fully committed to turning this vision into a reality and is actively collaborating with industry partners to address one crucial aspect – reducing aircraft noise in our communities.

As we look towards the future, it becomes evident that quiet flight will play a pivotal role, especially when air taxis and drones take off and land in designated vertiports located in both rural and urban areas. These vertiports will seamlessly integrate into our communities, ensuring a smooth and efficient transportation system.

To support the industry in designing vehicles that prioritize noise reduction, NASA is equipping them with the necessary tools to predict noise levels during the vehicle’s design phase. By providing these tools well in advance, companies can make informed decisions and optimize their designs even before seeking certification from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In a significant step towards this goal, NASA’s researchers from the Glenn Research Center traveled to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport in Ohio during the summer of 2023. Their mission was to test an electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) taxi developed by Moog. Throughout the testing process, NASA’s team collected valuable data during the aircraft’s departure, landing, and even while it hovered at an altitude of 60 feet. The eVTOL was remotely piloted by a skilled operator from a nearby ground station.

This collaboration with Moog marked the second round of testing conducted by NASA. In 2022, researchers had already acquired noise data during the initial piloted testing phase, where the Moog vehicle hovered in a fixed location.

The data collected from both rounds of testing will be instrumental in enhancing and validating NASA’s noise prediction tools. The agency is committed to sharing these tools, along with the comprehensive dataset, with the U.S. industry. By doing so, NASA aims to assist in the design process of quiet air taxis and drones, ensuring that they meet the highest standards of noise reduction.

This groundbreaking research is being carried out under NASA’s Revolutionary Vertical Lift Technology (RVLT) project, which falls under the agency’s Advanced Air Vehicles Program. The RVLT project aligns with NASA’s Advanced Air Mobility Mission, which aims to provide the industry with crucial data to guide the development of electric air taxis and drones. Together, we are shaping the future of air transportation, making it quieter, more efficient, and accessible for all.

Categorized as Aerospace

The X-65 CRANE Demonstrator Aircraft Set to Soar at Mach 0.7​

Aurora Flight Sciences, a subsidiary of Boeing, is currently developing the X-65, a technology demonstrator aircraft, as part of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) program. This aircraft aims to showcase the capabilities of active flow control (AFC) as a key design element, with the potential to greatly transform the future of aircraft design and enhance overall performance.

Aurora Flight Sciences initiated the development of an experimental X-plane in November 2020 as part of the DARPA’s CRANE programme. This endeavor, known as Phase 0, entailed collaborating with Boeing and the University of Arizona to establish tools and methodologies for integrating AFC into the early stages of aircraft design.

Following this initial phase, the subsequent stage focused on the preliminary design of the X-plane demonstrator, aiming to showcase the practical advantages of AFC technology.

In August 2021, the company progressed to Phase 1 of the programme, which encompassed the development of system requirements, initial design efforts, software creation, and initial airworthiness evaluations. As part of Phase 1, wind tunnel testing took place in San Diego, California, US, in May 2022. These tests laid a strong foundation for the development of flight control laws centered around AFC.

In December 2022, the DARPA allocated funds for the detailed engineering design of a full-scale X-plane, bringing the aircraft closer to flight readiness. This funding is part of Phase 2, which also includes the option to construct and fly the aircraft in subsequent phases.In January 2024, Aurora Flight Sciences was selected by the DARPA to construct a full-scale X-plane for Phase 3 of the CRANE programme. This phase will demonstrate the effectiveness of AFC actuators as the primary means of flight control. During this phase, an X-plane will be created without conventional moving control surfaces. The primary focus of the aircraft’s design will revolve around an AFC system, which will direct pressurized air to effectors that are embedded in all the flying surfaces.

To manipulate the airflow over the aircraft’s surface, jets of air will be utilized, with AFC effectors taking charge of controlling the roll, pitch, and yaw. By eliminating the need for external moving parts, the weight and complexity of the aircraft are expected to be reduced, ultimately leading to enhanced performance.The X-65, designed as a modular testbed, will showcase interchangeable outboard wings and AFC effectors, enabling the testing of various AFC designs.To gain a deeper understanding of AFC’s potential impact on future aircraft, sensors will continuously monitor the performance of AFC effectors in comparison to traditional control mechanisms.

The uncrewed full-scale prototype will possess a wingspan measuring 30ft and a total weight of 7,000lb. It will possess the capability to achieve speeds of up to Mach 0.7. To ensure the flight test outcomes are directly applicable to practical aircraft design, the dimensions and velocity of the prototype will resemble those of a military trainer aircraft. The X-65’s unique wing shape, resembling a diamond, will facilitate extensive learning about advanced flight control in real-world testing scenarios. Moreover, the X-65’s modular platform design will enable it to function as a testing asset for not only the CRANE program but also for DARPA and other agencies. Version 1: The X-65 aircraft has been specifically designed to assess and showcase the diverse capabilities of AFC across different effects, such as tactical flight control and performance enhancement. To establish a performance benchmark, the aircraft will initially be fitted with conventional flaps and rudders alongside AFC effectors. As the testing progresses, the reliance on moving surfaces will be minimized, with subsequent tests increasingly relying on AFC effectors.

Categorized as Aerospace

From Sky to Satellite: How INSAT-3DS is Revolutionizing Indian Meteorology

India is poised to enhance its meteorological monitoring capabilities through the launch of INSAT-3DS, an advanced weather satellite developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Set for liftoff in February aboard the GSLV-F14 rocket, this cutting-edge satellite will play a crucial role in weather forecasting and disaster management.

The satellite has been transported to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre to be integrated with the rocket for a launch from Sriharikota.

INSAT-3DS is designed as a successor to the existing in-orbit satellites INSAT-3D and INSAT-3DR, with the aim of providing uninterrupted services and significantly improving the overall capabilities of the INSAT system.

INSAT, which stands for the Indian National Satellite System, offers a range of services including telecommunications, broadcasting, meteorology, and search and rescue operations.

Recently, the INSAT-3DS satellite was sent off to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR in Sriharikota on January 25, following successful assembly, integration, and testing at the U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru.

This mission is a user-funded project in collaboration with the Ministry of Earth Science (MoES), highlighting the substantial contributions made by Indian industries in its development.

What Can We Expect INSAT-3DS to Carry on its Space Odyssey?

INSAT-3DS, developed on ISRO’s reliable I-2k bus platform, weighs 2,275 kg and is equipped with state-of-the-art payloads to enhance meteorological observation.

The satellite’s advanced instruments consist of a 6-channel Imager and a 19-channel Sounder, specifically designed for meteorological purposes to monitor land and ocean surfaces. These tools will play a crucial role in gathering essential data for accurate weather forecasting and early warning systems, strengthening India’s preparedness and response strategies for natural disasters.

Furthermore, INSAT-3DS carries communication payloads like the Data Relay Transponder (DRT) and the Satellite Aided Search and Rescue (SAS&R) transponder. The DRT will receive data from automatic Data Collection Platforms and Automatic Weather Stations (AWS), thereby enhancing the country’s weather forecasting capabilities. The SAS&R transponder is a vital component for global search and rescue operations, responsible for relaying distress signals and alert detections from beacon transmitters.

The successful launch of INSAT-3DS signifies a significant achievement for India’s space program and its dedication to utilizing space technology for the betterment of society.

With its advanced features, INSAT-3DS is poised to strengthen India’s position in meteorological observation and disaster management, providing invaluable support to both national and international communities.

Categorized as Aerospace

Space-Based Nuclear Weapons: What the US Says Russia is developing?

space missile

The true nature of the weapon, and whether it even exists, remains shrouded in uncertainty. However, the potential threat of targeting satellites could lead to a wide range of disruptive consequences. This includes undermining global communications, surveillance, intelligence, and command and control systems, even within the realm of nuclear capabilities.

It is puzzling why Russia would resort to using nuclear weapons to destroy a satellite. According to The New York Times, the United States lacks the means to counter such a weapon.

On Wednesday, a source briefed on the matter informed Reuters that the United States has shared new intelligence with Congress and European allies regarding Russian nuclear capabilities that could pose a threat on an international scale. The source clarified that these new capabilities, which are linked to Russia’s efforts to develop a space-based weapon, do not present an immediate danger to the United States.

Later reports indicated that the warning pertained to Russia’s space capabilities and its satellites. While the issue was deemed serious by one source, it was clarified that it did not involve an active capability and should not be a cause for panic.

According to The New York Times, citing current and former U.S. officials, the new intelligence is connected to Russia’s pursuit of a space-based anti-satellite nuclear weapon. ABC News also reported on this capability. However, it is important to note that the nuclear weapon in question is not currently in orbit.

This intelligence came to light after Representative Mike Turner, the Republican chair of the U.S. House of Representatives intelligence committee, issued a cryptic statement on Wednesday, warning of a “serious national security threat.”

Russia and the United States are the dominant nuclear powers, collectively possessing approximately 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons. Both countries also have advanced military satellites orbiting the Earth.

During the early years of the Cold War, when Russia surged ahead in the space race and both sides developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, the West proposed a treaty to prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons in space.

During the early years of the Cold War, when Russia took the lead in the space race and both sides developed intercontinental ballistic missiles, the Western nations proposed a treaty to prohibit the deployment of nuclear weapons in space. This led to the creation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which strictly forbids the placement of any weapons of mass destruction in orbit or outer space.

In the present day, the United States considers Russia and China as its primary competitors on the global stage. According to the US, both nations are actively working on developing various new weapons systems, including nuclear, cyber, and space capabilities. On the other hand, Russia argues that the United States’ post-Cold War dominance is crumbling and accuses Washington of causing chaos worldwide while disregarding the interests of other powers. Moscow claims that the US is also engaged in the development of numerous new weapons.

While Russia has neither confirmed nor denied the existence of such weapons, it dismisses the US warning as a “malicious fabrication” and a ploy by the White House to secure more funding from Congress to counter Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov refrained from commenting on the reports until the White House reveals the details. However, he pointed out that the warning from Washington is clearly an attempt to persuade Congress to allocate more funds.

Moscow’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Sergei Ryabkov, who is responsible for arms control, accused the United States of spreading “malicious fabrication,” as reported by the TASS news agency. The situation remains tense as both sides exchange accusations and await further developments.