Space History: 'Double Star' project- CNSA+ESA- first Chinese deep space launch

date: 29 DEC'2003
'Double Star' project was a joint project by Chinese & European space agency. Two satellites were launched under this project. Mission was to study the effects of the Sun on the Earth's environment. The first launch is reported here. The newspaper clipping below is from a local Indian paper at that time likes of which i used to collect from childhood.

This was first Chinese deep space launch before Chang'e-1 lunar mission.

translating highlights:

  • to study magnetic and energized particles coming out of the Sun and their effects on Earth.
  • spacecraft is called "Explore-1"
  • first launch tonight occurred at 'Xichang station' in China
  • second launch to occur in six months from 'Taiyuan'
  • first joint mission between CNSA and ESA
  • launch rocket and different equipment provided by China
  • science instruments and data network provided by ESA
  • ESA's "Cluster mission" spacecrafts (four in numbers) and two satellites from this project can jointly provide new information to scientists.

Military history: first successful Agni-III missile test- 12 APR'2007

(left side: clip from TOI with wrong missile in inset picture<Agni-2>)

The first test of Agni-3 missile failed in year 2006. The first stage of the rocket failed due to re-circulation of hot exhaust gases inside missile.

The second test on 12th April 2007 included protection from above said re-circulation and was a success.

The exact range of the missile is classified but publicly accepted to be more than 3000 km.

News update: Small satellites and Internet from space(?) - DRDO chairman

Source: Telangana Today/

G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D, and DRDO chairman said that, satellites are made available smaller in the size, lesser cost and weight because of improvements in technologies like propulsion, electronics, structures and payloads.

As the trend will continue, we shall see even smaller and lighter satellites in future.

He was speaking at an International Conference related to the issue.

“The modest facilities needed to design and build small satellites boosted innovative startups. Small satellites will bring in a new revolution in the world and network of space-borne sensors will lead us towards Internet of Satellites/ Space Wide Web in future,” he said.

note: in last PSLV launch, DRDO was ISRO's customer where satellite was built completely at DRDO labs and ISRO only had to integrate and launch.

Space History: Old Newspaper Clip: ESA 'Mars Express' Launch- June'2003

Hello guys, I will be showcasing here my old newspaper clipping of ESA (European Space Agency) Mars Express Launch- June'2003. The orbiter is still in operation around Mars, but the lander 'Beagle-2' failed to communicate/continue its mission immediately after safely touching down on the surface.

Date: 2 June 2003
Newspaper: Unknown from India
Language: Marathi
Translation: Successful launch of Europe's ambitious 'Mars Express'

Translating the Highlights:
during cold war, European countries used to dread the soyuz rocket thinking that it would carry Russian nuclear weapons. now the same thing has brought success to Europe's first planetary mission- what an irony!
"USA has powerful computers, but Russia has highly intelligent mathematicians", said the European researchers.
the launch occurred at Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.

an instrument called Beagle-2 is going to land on martian surface. it will do so on 25th Dec'2003-around 8 am IST.

British PM Tony Blair congratulated ESA.

Beagle-2 shall look for water on mars with help of some specific radar device.

an instrument looking like a bicycle wheel is also sent to break the martian rocks and chemically analyze them.

there is global effort going on to know more about planet mars. NASA is also launching its mars mission this month, while Japanese 'Nozomi' spacecraft will fly towards mars in 2004.

Military history: Formation of Nuclear Command Authority (NCA)-India'2003

Newspaper editorial from 12 JAN 2003
language: marathi
title: (there)must be dominance!


atomic weapon control mechanism: political council headed by PM(picture of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee) shall take last decision on use of atomic weapons

(later images show four former ministers in political council, from left to right-top to bottom:- home minister LK Advani; defense minister George Fernandes; external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha; finance minister Jaswant Singh)

executive council headed by National Security Adviser shall implement the decision of political council(picture of then NSA Mr. Brajesh Mishra)

Strategic Forces Command shall possess all atomic weapons and delivery systems. it shall advise all three chief of staff (army, navy and air force)

'council of defense forces chiefs': it shall (upon receiving information from 'SFC') advice 'political council' through 'executive council' about military plans(picture of then Air Marshal Tej Mohan Asthana)
  • the editorial welcomes govt. decision to finalize NCA/SFC structure
  • "India declared itself as responsible nuclear power"
  • declared "no first use" policy
  • "better late than never" since 5 years had passed after 1998 atomic tests
  • atomic weapons controls are firmly in civilian hand

News update: IAM in Bengaluru to help Gaganyaan astronauts- but how?


IAF's Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru is in talks with ISRO for providing "aerospace medicine support" to Gaganyaan crew.

Air Marshal Rajvir Singh, Director General, Medical Services (AIR) said that two meetings were held with ISRO regarding this issue. Nothing has been officially finalized yet.
Bipin Puri, Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services said, "the institute has played a crucial role in many aerospace missions, including long hours of flying of fighter aircraft in the past. Enhancing human performance and flight safety ***".


Bipin Puri-"***ISRO wants to join hands with IAM to train the crew members***".

Rajvir Singh-"The complexities of life support in space are enormous. And IAM is the only centre in the country to contribute in this direction. We are currently in discussion with ISRO to provide full spectrum of life support to the crew members of the space mission"

As per the IAM website, the institute, earlier called Institute of Aviation Medicine, had provided medical support to the Indo-Soviet Manned Space Flight programme in 1980s.



1. how exactly IAM is going to support?
  • providing only medicines and/or "performance enhancers"
  • conducting tests on candidates for issuing fitness certificate
  • helping ISRO design "life support system"
  • consultancy
  • complete training of astronauts with help of ISRO
2. what happened to earlier plans of sending crew to Russia/ France for such training?

Military history: USA's war on terror (2001- 2014)

Hello friends, I have been collecting military & space related newspaper clippings since 2001. Yes, I was a pre-internet era kid. The image below is for representational purpose only.

I will soon replace above pic with my actual notebook photo.

The following images are related to USA's war on terror (2001- 2014) selected from my collection book. The newspaper language is Marathi. I feel very good that a complete war history has been partially documented inside my notebook.

1. year 2001- prelude to war in Afghanistan

(translation: photograph of aircraft carrier Carl Vinson of the american navy. A force of 5000 sailors and 70 aircrafts on this warship are ready for war)

2. year 2003- prelude to war in Iraq

(partial translation: american troops preparing for the invasion of Iraq at Kuwaiti desert)

3. 30 DEC 2014- End (?) of war

(translation of titles: 1. secession of struggle in Afghanistan, 2. american defeat in Afghanistan- Taliban declares its resolution to re-establish control)

NAL Saras: History: Newspaper clippings

1. Date: 29 May 2004
Newspaper: Unknown from India
Language: Marathi
Translation: (Title) Successful flight of 'desi' Saras

(image caption) completely indigenous Saras took a successful flight on Saturday

(Highlights of report) 20 minutes of flight;
take off from HAL airport- Bengaluru;
crew:- Sq. Ldr. K. K. Venugopal & W. Cmdr. Makhan;
NAL director BR Pai termed this a successful flight but refused to give technical details;
two Canadian "pratt and whitney" engines;
total weight= 5118 Kg; extra 900 Kg than expected;
altitude reached= 8000 ft.; speed reached= 150 km/h
14 seats capacity, 5 seats during test;
1232 Kg weight carrying capacity;
500 flight hours necessary before approval from DGCA;
2007 is the year for expected approval.

It is a sad state of affairs that even after so many years, these projects are still in development phase. To see that how optimistic the news seemed that day, only break your heart what actually happened in years after that.

2. Date: 29 May 2004
Newspaper: Unknown from India
Language: Marathi
Translation: (Title) First successful flight of indigenous 'Saras'

Space entertainment: "Rocketry- the Nambi effect" teaser

This movie is based on the life of Mr. Nambi Narayanan - senior ISRO scientist worked on cryogenic engines. He was falsely accused of espionage. Recently he was honored with 3rd highest civilian award- 'Padma Bhushan'.

News update: Ariane 5 launches ISRO GSAT-31 successfully

News update: Upcoming GSAT-31 to replace dying INSAT-4CR

The upcoming ISRO satellite to be launched GSAT-31 is a replacement for a dying satellite INSAT-4CR. "Dying" does not mean that the old satellite is going to be de-orbited & burned or to be destroyed completely upon a command given from ground station, but only reaching the end of it's designed "service life". Beyond the designed "service life", satellite does not have enough fuel and/or electric power to remain useful.

INSAT-4 constellation included seven communication satellites. INSAT-4C of this lot was lost when GSLV rocket carrying it was destroyed upon failure in year 2006. It's replacement INSAT-4CR also suffered failure to reach designed orbit when another GSLV under-performed in 2007. 4CR had to spend more fuel (reserved for orbit raising & station keeping) to reach that orbit. Since less on board fuel left for itself, the service life of 4CR got shortened by 5 years. Now the time has come for GSAT-31 to take handover from INSAT-4CR (7th FEB 2019).

Best of luck ISRO!

News update: China's manned Moon landing plans- my analysis

China's future space/ manned Moon landing plans- my analysis

In a recent presentation on future space plans of China, these slides were presented as part of next generation manned spacecraft and lunar missions.

Current Chinese manned spacecraft 'Shenzhou' is based on an old design- the Soviet 'Soyuz'. As the first pic above (inside that, top left quadrant) shows that next generation manned spacecraft would look more or less like modern designs of 'Orion', 'Starliner' and 'Dragon' (all from USA).

The same quadrant image also shows Earth, Moon and Mars indicating similar strategy of China like NASA to expand their mission profiles step by step towards the Mars.

The top right quadrant in first pic shows the spacecraft docked with an orbiting lunar station (similar to proposed international "LOP-G"). A lunar lander is also docked with it from opposite side. The lunar lander is suggested to be like a shuttle "to and from" Moon surface.

The bottom left quadrant in first pic shows that, probably the lunar lander is going to be launched separately (unmanned) to dock automatically to Lunar station. When the crew arrives at station, they would have the lander ready to use.

The bottom right quadrant in first pic shows that, the Lunar station and a Lunar truck are also going to be launched separately (unmanned). When the crew arrives at lunar surface, they would have the truck ready to drive around.

I request my Chinese visitors to translate the fourth quadrant.

Last two images above are details of Chinese manned lunar lander. I see very different design than that from USA's Apollo LEM...

and planned Soviet LK lander...

Experts feel that, the Chinese lander has insufficient fuel/ payload to be used as a reliable/ reusable shuttle to frequently visit-&-return from lunar surface. Chinese rockets capable of carrying these payloads to the Moon/ Mars are still in design & development phase. Nevertheless, these plans are very exciting for manned space exploration and we wish best of luck to our Chinese friends!

News update: European Space Agency to launch ISRO satellite: 6-Feb-2019 (0231 IST)

Source: The Hindu (

  • GSAT-31 is ISRO's 40th communication satellite mission.
  • It will be launched by European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket from the spaceport in French Guiana. (Indian news outlets always say "ISRO to launch..." during each mission, which creates confusion about launch rockets being Indian or European.)
  • Mission Life= 15 years
  • Weight of the satellite= 2535 Kg
  • ESA launch mission is Ariane 5 (VA247)
  • Other passengers are: Hellas-Sat-4/SaudiGeoSat-1 (a single combo [?] of two satellites owned by Greece and Saudi Arabia- manufactured by Lockheed Martin Company from USA)
Good luck, ESA & ISRO!

Space History: Old Newspaper Clip: Ariane 5 (V-160)/ ISRO INSAT-3A launch-April'2003

Hello guys, I will be showcasing here my old newspaper clipping of Ariane 5 (V-160)/ ISRO INSAT-3A launch-April'2003. This was the first launch after failed Ariane 5 (V-157) launch which was destroyed by the range safety.

Date: 9 April 2003
Newspaper: Unknown from India
Language: Marathi
Translation: Indian satellite INSAT-3A was successfully launched from Kourou centre at French Guiana early morning on Thursday. There is hope that this satellite will play an important role in communication and meteorological area.

Space History: Old Newspaper Clip: Hayabusa (JAXA) launch-May'2003

Hello guys, I will be showcasing here my old newspaper clipping of Hayabusa (JAXA) launch-9 May 2003. Hayabusa, formerly known as MUSES-C for Mu Space Engineering Spacecraft C was a robotic sample return mission from asteroid. Hayabusa mission was the first attempt to return an asteroid sample to Earth for analysis.

Date: 9 May 2003
Newspaper: Unknown from India
Language: Marathi
Translation: MUSES-C satellite launched in space from Kagoshima Space Center at Japanese Kyushu island. The work of collecting samples from asteroid surface is given to MUSES-C. MUSES-C will travel total 600 million km in 4 years and if this mission is a success then, MUSES-C will be the first spacecraft to visit asteroid and return back to earth.