NASA launches Orbital ATK Cygnus Resupply Mission

Newsroom24x7 Desk

NASA CygnusFlorida : NASA commercial partner Orbital ATK has set Thursday, Dec. 3, for the launch of its fourth contracted mission to the International Space Station under the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. NASA Television coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. EST. NASA confirmed the launch date at the conclusion of Tuesday’s launch readiness review at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida. During the meeting, senior NASA, U.S. Air Force, Orbital ATK and United Launch Alliance managers assessed the risks associated with the mission and determined the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and personnel are ready for launch.

Cygnus is set to lift off on the Atlas V at 5:55 p.m., the beginning of a 30-minute launch window, from CCAFS Space Launch Complex 41. Cygnus will carry more than 7,000 pounds of science and research, crew supplies and vehicle hardware to the orbital laboratory to support dozens of approximately 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 45 and 46. This first Cygnus mission using the Atlas V launch system provides increased performance and flexibility to the Orbital ATK cargo delivery service.

The new experiments arriving to the orbital laboratory will challenge and inspire future scientists and explorers. Science payloads will offer a new life science facility that will support studies on cell cultures, bacteria and other microorganisms; a microsatellite deployer and the first microsatellite that will be deployed from the space station; and experiments that will study the behavior of gases and liquids, clarify the thermo-physical properties of molten steel, and evaluate flame-resistant textiles.

Cygnus also will deliver replacement cargo items including a set of Microsoft HoloLens devices for use in NASA’s Sidekick project, a safety jet pack astronauts wear during spacewalks known as SAFER, and high pressure nitrogen and oxygen tanks to plug into the station’s air supply network.

This will be the first flight of an enhanced Cygnus spacecraft to the station. The cargo freighter now features a greater payload capacity, new UltraFlex solar arrays and new fuel tanks. Cygnus’ pressurized cargo module has been extended and increases the spacecraft’s interior volume capacity by 25 percent, enabling more cargo to be delivered with each mission.

A Dec. 3 launch will result in the Cygnus spacecraft arriving at the space station on Sunday, Dec. 6. NASA crew members Kjell Lindgren and Scott Kelly will use the station’s Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach out and capture Cygnus at approximately 5:30 a.m. NASA TV coverage of rendezvous and grapple of Cygnus will begin at 4 a.m. Cygnus will be the first cargo ship to be berthed to the Earth-facing port on the Unity module. Coverage of Cygnus’ installation will begin at 7:15 a.m.

The spacecraft will spend more than a month attached to the space station before its destructive re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere in January 2016, disposing of about 3,000 pounds of trash.

Stronger foreign investment regime comes into force in Australia

Newsroom24x7 Desk

australia imagesMelbourne : The Turnbull Government’s robust new foreign investment regime comes into force, providing stronger enforcement and a better resourced system with clearer rules for foreign investors. Treasurer of commonwealth of Australia, Scott Morrison said, ‘The Government welcomes foreign investment that is not contrary to our national interest. Without foreign investment, production, employment and income would all be lower. But it is important that foreign investment is appropriately monitored to ensure that it benefits all Australians. Foreign investment rules need to be strong, effective and enforceable. The changes taking effect today follow the passage of the Government’s Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Legislation Amendment Bill 2015. They provide greater compliance powers to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and introduce strict new penalties for those caught breaking the rules.’

Morrison elaborated, ‘Foreign investors who have breached the residential real estate rules had until yesterday to voluntarily come forward under the reduced penalty period. From today any investors caught in breach of the rules will face severe penalties. The ATO has taken over full responsibility for enforcing residential real estate purchases by foreign citizens and existing criminal penalties have been increased to $135,000 or three years’ imprisonment, or both for individuals; and up to $675,000 for companies. New civil penalties supporting divestment orders and ensuring people who break the rules do not profit from their actions, also come into effect. These include forfeiting any capital gains made on divestment of a property and fines for third parties who knowingly assist foreign investors to break the rules. Under these new arrangements foreign investors who fail to comply with the foreign investment rules will not be able to profit from doing so.’

The treasurer informed that Government had also introduced application fees so the cost of the system would no longer be borne by the Australian taxpayer. Now on, fees would be levied on foreign investment applications. He said — While foreign investment in agriculture provides important economic benefits, we have acted to improve scrutiny and transparency around foreign ownership of Australia’s agricultural production. The average farming business is smaller than other businesses in the economy and applying the general business threshold of $252 million excludes a large part of the agricultural sector from foreign investment screening. A new agricultural land foreign ownership register has been established, and the screening threshold for proposed foreign purchases of agricultural land by private investors has reduced to $15 million. In addition, from today direct interests in agribusinesses valued at $55 million or more will also be screened by the Foreign Investment Review Board.

The Australian Government is also expanding agricultural land register to include residential land and water entitlements. The package of reforms also includes long overdue amendments that modernize the foreign investment framework, reduce red tape, and provide greater certainty for investors and the Australian community. Foreign government investors are now subject to the new legislation. While still requiring approval for all direct interests, the Government can now impose legally enforceable conditions to protect the national interest. The Government is also continuing to work collaboratively with the States and Territories to ensure that sales of critical infrastructure to foreign investors are properly scrutinized.

Morrison added, ‘The legislative package passed by the Senate last week represents the most significant reforms to Australia’s foreign investment framework in forty years. We are committed to strengthening the system so that Australians can be confident that foreign investment will not be contrary to the national interest.’

31st anniversary march to death factory – Bhopal remembers gas tragedy 1984

Newsroom24x7 Desk

bhopal gas tragedyBhopal : Methyl Iso Cyanate (MIC), Warren Anderson, Union carbide, gas leakage, 1984, December 2-3 midnight, litigation, after effects — Bhopal wakes up on the morning of December the third, as 31 calendar years have rolled by, some waiting, some reviving, and a few still sheathed under the blanket of side effects of a tragedy, which resulted in loss of thousands of lives, leaving its impact still ticking within many generations thereafter.

Bhopal gas tragedy, world’s biggest industrial disaster, the first unfortunate event which brought Bhopal into the world recognition platform, albeit in an infamous connotation. The intervening night of December 2nd, moving into the cusp of an early break of dawn on the first sunlight hour of December 3rd, revisited by state citizens yesterday evening, when hundreds of people staged a march for remembering the anniversary, the 31st anniv of a disaster when tonnes of toxic gas leaked from the Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands.

Hundreds of Bhopal residents marched here on the eve of 1984 Gas Tragedy Anniversary. Folks walked from Sindhi Colony to the defunct Union Carbide factory. The march, which was a combined effort of locals along with many NGOs serving for the cause of victims and their kith and kin, assembled outside the death factory. Participants took an oath outside the Union Carbide factory and vowed to to continue the struggle for justice and for more compensation.

Indian government filed a curative petition in the Supreme Court on December 3, 2010, seeking $1.2 billion in additional compensation from the Union Carbide and its (present) owner, Dow Chemical Company. NGOs however expressed concern over inaction on this account and opined that unfortunately, there has been just one hearing on the petition in the last five years and the government has not moved a single application for urgent hearing. They also claim that the curative petition downplays the damage caused by the disaster and seeks too little compensation.

The main obstruction in securing justice for survivors is believed to be due to continuing collusion between Government of India and the two American corporations – Union Carbide and Dow Chemical Company. NGOs feel that In 1985 the Indian government asked for $3.3 billion as compensation, which would be about $7 billion today. Union Carbide has paid only $470 million; the least Indian government should be asking for is 6.5 billion dollars.

Although Warren Anderson, the then CEO of death factory (read Union Carbide), wanted in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy is dead. But, the gas affected areas in Bhopal are still bereft of basic amenities. The tragedy not only killed thousands of people that night but also left its mark on the future generations. People even today feel the ill-effects and many are born with physical disabilities. The disaster left thousands of people homeless, injured and physically defunct. Union Carbide paid USD 470 million in 1989 to the Indian government to settle the litigation. A paltry settlement, 31 years and counting……