Dragon, the privately funded SpaceX capsule left the International Space Station on Thursday and aimed for a Pacific splashdown to end its historic flight.
World’s first commercial supply ship was set loose by the astronauts after a five-day visit, releasing the vessel with the space station’s robot arm. Six hours later, the Dragon slowly backed away from the 400-km-high outpost, on track for a midday return to Earth. The targeted splashdown zone is 900 km west of Baja California, Mexico.
NASA has turned to American private business to take over cargo runs and, eventually, astronaut ferry flights after its space shuttles were retired last year. Several companies are in the running for the human missions, with SpaceX in the lead. Last week, SpaceX became the first private company to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station. And Thursday, it was on the verge of becoming the only supplier to return major items.
President Barack Obama wants NASA free of orbital deliveries so it can work on getting astronauts to asteroids and Mars.
Assuming Thursday’s entry goes well, the next Dragon supply mission will be in September. Rival Orbital Sciences Corp. hopes to have its first test flight off by year’s end.
New Telecom Policy to abolish roaming charges
The National Telecom Policy (NTP) 2012 has been approved by the Union Cabinet on Thursday, which has been released after a delay of over a year.
Though, the actual timelines for the implementation of individual announcements within the new telecom policy are yet to be spelled out. With the new policy in place now, the consumers who use national roaming can will be paying local call charges though it is unclear when ‘free roaming’ will be initiated. At present, consumers pay local call charges and a premium when travelling outside their service area. The policy also allows national number portability.
The NTP 2012 expects to take India’s presently 39% rural teledensity to 70% in the next 5 years with the target that every single Indian will have a phone by 2020. The policy also gets a formal approval on the new unified licensing regime which allows companies to provide ISP, fixed line, international long distance, national long distance, and a few other services through a single licence.
However, post the Supreme Court judgment of February 2, 2012 which mandates spectrum auctions, the separation of licence and spectrum has already become an undeniable reality. Regardless of the NTP 2012, the DoT would have to separate licences from spectrum just as they did through an executive order following a Group of Ministers (GoM) direction to auction 3G and BWA spectrum in 2010.
Cabinet nod for waste treatment plants in Kollam, Thrissur and Kottayam
The Cabinet on Thursday gave clearance for construction of major waste treatment plants in Kollam, Thrissur, and Kottayam. The plants would use pollution-free technology, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said.
GDP growth slips down to 6.5%
The GDP growth slipped to 6.5 per cent in 2011-12, the worst in nine years, due to the adverse global environment and domestic woes arising out of high interest rates and policy inaction.