Current Affairs for OAS Prelims 2020: Science and Technology

December 2020

  • Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has partnered with Skylotech India (Skylo), a global machine connectivity solutions company, to launch satellite-based narrow band-Internet of things (NBIoT). This initiative is the world’s first satellite-based NB-IoT network.
  • The Bengaluru-based space-technology start-up “Pixxel”, has signed a pact with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch its first remote-sensing satellite on Isro’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket in early 2021. Earlier, the startup had planned to launch this satellite towards the end of 2020 and on a Russian Soyuz rocket. Pixxel aims to put a constellation of 30 earth observation micro-satellites into a sunsynchronous orbit by mid-2023.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch a communication satellite CMS-01, formerly named GSAT-12R, on December 17, using its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket’s XL variant numbered as PSLV-C50. The CMS-01 will be a replacement for GSAT-12 that weighed 1,410 kg and was launched on July 11, 2011, with a mission life of eight years.
  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has set up a dedicated Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Control Centre named “NETRA”, at its ISTRAC campus at Peenya, Bengaluru. The ISRO SSA Control Centre ‘NETRA’ was formally inaugurated by ISRO Chairman K Sivan.
  • NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have selected Indian-American Raja Chari to be the Commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station. Presently Raja Chari, is a colonel in the US Air Force. He will be the commander of SpaceX Crew-3 mission, while Nasa’s Tom Marshburn will be pilot and ESA’s Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist. This mission is expected to be launched next year.
  • USA’s plan to set up the first nuclear reactor on the moon by the end of 2026. In early 2021, the US Department of Energy in collaboration with NASA intends to solicit industry design proposals. It also got an impetus with a recent White House directive. The outgoing President Donald Trump, issued the “National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion” on 16 December.
  • Indian Space startup, Skyroot Aerospace has successfully test-fired a solid propulsion rocket engine, named Kalam-5. With this, it has become the first private company of India to successfully design, develop and test a full solid-fueled rocket stage. This crucial propulsion technology will be used for their maiden rocket Vikram-1, which is under active manufacturing and is targeted to be launched in December 2021 with the help of ISRO.
  • The Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan launched India’s first indigenously developed vaccine against pneumonia. The Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) named ‘Pneumosil’ has been developed by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and PATH, an international, nonprofit global health organization based in Seattle.
  • Union Minister of Education, Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ has virtually laid the foundation stone of “TiHAN-IIT Hyderabad”, India’s first Testbed for Autonomous Navigation Systems (Terrestrial and Aerial) at IIT Hyderabad. The Technology Innovation Hub on Autonomous Navigation Systems (TiHAN) for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Remotely Operated Vehicles at IIT Hyderabad.