Federal Bank bags IDRBT Banking Technology Excellence award

federal bankKerala-based Federal Bank has won the IDRBT Banking Technology Excellence award for 2013-14 in four out of total five categories in the mid-sized lenders segment. Federal Bank was adjudged as the ‘best bank’ for use of Technology for Financial Inclusion, Social Media and Mobile Banking, Business Intelligence Initiatives and for  Best IT Team, becoming the bank to have won the maximum number of awards this year, is said in a statement. The awards were presented to the winners at a function held in Hyderabad on October 1. Shyam Srinivasan, the bank’s Managing Director and CEO, received the awards from  RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan.
Instituted in 2001, the IDRBT Banking Technology Excellence Awards recognise and honour the best innovative use of information technology to enhance levels of customer service.

– ET

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After Mangalyaan to Mars, Isro plans to send an Indian into space

Within a few weeks, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) will team up with the Indian Air Force to conduct a simple experiment: it will drop a 3.7-tonne capsule from a height of 3.5 km and try to land it softly with parachutes. If successful, Isro will take this capsule in November-end to a height of 120 km on a rocket  and eject it from there, to be recovered from the sea after a soft landing. Success in this experiment would be the first step in Isro’s next frontier: human space  flight. Isro has made this capsule, called the crew module, in record time with very little money. The total budget sanctioned was just Rs 145 crore to make the crew module,  space suits and other technologies necessary for a human flight into space. Isro still has money left for some more work. The development lasted just over a year and a  half, once again emphasising the frugal nature of Isro’s engineering. “We wanted to show that we can do this if there is a need,” says Isro Chairman K Radhakrishnan. An actual human flight requires political clearance and heavy investments , a study seven years ago put the cost at Rs 12,400 crore. But Isro is readying itself by  developing all necessary technologies. The crew module that is set to fly in November is built to be just like in a final human mission, with only the internal layouts  being different. While the helicopter experiment will test the parachutes, an experimental GSLV Mark III flight in November-end will test the re-entry capabilities of the module.

mangalyaanIsro had done a study seven years ago about the requirements of a human flight, but never really pursued it seriously because a good human-rated vehicle was not ready. The reliable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) could carry only one person, and so was not a candidate for human flight. The Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV)  had a few failures, leaving Isro with no tested vehicle for launching humans into space yet. The current contender is the GSLV Mark III, the completely new heavy  lifter that Isro is developing. It is still a few years away from first launch, but technology development is proceeding at full pace. One can get a taste of the eventual flight from within a model capsule that is kept at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram. Two crew members  lie looking up into the roof of the module, watching all the flight data as they move up. The rocket with the passengers would lift off from Sriharikota, move in a  nearstraight line towards Australia, where the crew module is pushed into orbit at a height of about 270 km by the cryogenic engine. The module completes seven days in  orbit and then descend into the atmosphere to land softly in the sea. This landing and recovery will be tested in end November, but from a height of 120 km. A crew  module needs highly sophisticated engineering, as the conditions of descent into the atmosphere are very harsh. The temperatures cross 1,500 degrees centigrade and the  forces on the module as it slows down can be 13 times that of gravity; with crew inside feeling a force of four times gravity. The crew module has to withstand these forces and also keep the crew safe. The thermal protection system of the current module is made to be good enough for actual re-entry. The deceleration system of the  module is as in the final mission. “With this flight data we would be confident about our aero-thermal predictions,” says S Unnikrishnan Nair, Project Director, Human
Space Programme.

A number of companies worked on the development of this project along with Isro. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) developed the metallic internal structure, apart  from other things. Valeth High Tech Composites in Chennai worked on the thermal protection system. SIDCO near Thiruvananthapuram worked on the vibration fixer and  other things. Suresafety India in Baroda developed the space suit. Many of them are regular partners of Isro. None of them make any money on the development, and some  have even invested some resources of their own. “It is not business alone,” says Peter Valeth, founder of Valeth High Tech Composites. “We are happy to see some unique  products becoming successful.” Valeth now routinely develops special materials for Isro and the defence forces. All of Isro’s rockets use its ablative lining for their  nozzles, where temperatures can be very high. It has adapted this work to make silica tiles for the crew module base, which would take the full brunt of the heating  while descent through the atmosphere. This is one of the most critical technologies in the module: one space shuttle once lost its crew because of a problem in these  tiles. This technology is very useful for the company in the long run, as it is eying exports and planning a manufacturing plant in Thailand.

Suresafety designed a space suit from scratch for this programme. It is this space suit that protects the crew in case of an environmental emergency inside the capsule. The development lasted a year and used a material specially designed for this project. The company claims to have put in Rs 50-60 lakh apart from the money  given by Isro, with the hope of making the suit in larger quantities one day. “We are waiting for the moon project and to produce it ourselves,” says managing director Nishith Dand. After the technologies are developed, the actual human flight can be very expensive, and hinges on a political decision. The expense is to create a third launch pad  and astronaut training facilities, and to humanrate the launch vehicle. Production assemblies need to be created too. Human rating the launch vehicle is difficult, as  it requires at least six continuous flawless flights of the GSLV Mark III. In any case, barring serious failures on the way, Isro could be ready to put humans into  space in four to five years.

– ET

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India close to having its own navigation satellite system, launches third satellite under IRNSS

India on Thursday moved tantalisingly close to having its own satellite navigation system as it smoothly launched a satellite with its rocket – and is now only a step away from joining a select group of space-faring nations that have such a system. With the successful launch early Thursday of the third of seven satellites planned under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), India is just a  satellite and a couple of months away from having its own satellite navigation system. This puts India at the door step of an exclusive space club that has the US, Russia, China and Japan as members. The navigational system, developed indigenously by India, is designed to provide accurate position information service to users within the country and up to 1,500 km  from the nation’s  boundary line. Though IRNSS is a seven-satellite system, it could be made operational with four satellites, ISRO officials said.  The fourth navigation satellite is expected to be launched this December. The entire IRNSS constellation of seven satellites is planned to be completed by 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists and described the launch earlier in the night as “a matter of immense  pride and joy”.

irnssExactly at 1.32 a.m., the rocket – Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C26 (PSLV-C26) – standing around 44.4 metres tall and weighing around 320 tonnes, blasted off from  the first launch pad here at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, around 80 km from Chennai.
The expendable rocket with fierce orange flames at its tail lit up the night sky here. The rocket tore into the night skies with its luggage, the 1,425-kg IRNSS-1C  (Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System-1C) satellite. For the onlookers, the rocket looked like an inverted flare with a long handle as it ascended towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the ISRO scientists and the
media team assembled at the rocket port here. Space scientists at ISRO rocket mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull. At around 20 minutes into the flight, the PSLV-C26 spat out IRNSS-1C at an altitude of around 500 km above the earth. Immediately on the successful ejection, scientists at the mission control centre were visibly relieved and started applauding happily. “India’s third navigation satellite is up in the orbit,” ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said post launch. Soon after the ejection into the orbit, the satellite’s solar panels were deployed. In the coming days, four orbit manoeuvres by firing its on-board motors will be conducted by ISRO to position the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit.

The satellite has two kinds of payloads – navigation and ranging. The navigation payload would transmit navigation service signals to the users. A highly accurate rubidium atomic clock is part of the navigation payload. The ranging payload consists of C-band transponder which facilitates accurate determination of he range of the satellite. The satellite with a life span of around 10 years is the third of the seven satellites which will constitute the IRNSS.  The first satellite IRNSS-1A was launched in July 2013 and the second IRNSS-1B in April 2014. Both have already started functioning from their designated orbital slots. The system, expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 metres in the primary service area, is similar to the global positioning system of the US,  Glonass of Russia, Galileo of Europe, China’s Beidou or the Japanese Quasi Zenith Satellite System. The system will be used for terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones,
 mapping and geodetic data capture, visual and voice navigation for drivers and others. While the ISRO is silent on the navigation system’s strategic application, it is clear that the IRNSS will be used for defence purposes as well. By adding more satellites, the service area can be expanded, an ISRO official said.

Radhakrishnan had earlier said though IRNSS is a seven-satellite system, it could be made operational with four satellites. He had said each satellite will cost around Rs.150 crore and there will be a total of nine – seven in the space and two as stand-by on ground. The PSLV XL version used to put the satellites in orbit costs around Rs.130 crore. The seven rockets would involve an outlay of around Rs.910 crore. In addition, there will be investments made in setting up a chain of ground stations which will be around Rs.1,000 crore, Radhakrishnan had said. Once the regional navigation system is in place, India need not be dependent on others. The IRNSS will provide two types of services — standard positioning service and restricted service. The former is provided to all users and the later is an encrypted service for authorised users. The IRNSS system comprises of two segments – the space and the ground. The space segment consists of seven satellites of which three will be in geostationary orbit and  four in inclined geosynchronous orbit. The ground segment consists of infrastructure for controlling, tracking and other facilities.

– ET

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Honda to start CBR-650 production in India from next year

Riding upon the ‘Make in India’ appeal, auto giant ‘Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India Private Limited’ (HMSI) will start production of its high-end sports motorcycle ‘CBR-650′ in the country from next year, a top company executive said here today. “We announce that (from) next year Honda will start making CBR -650 in India. By this, we will not only open up the skill of our existing manpower but it will also  showcase the Honda India’s manufacturing quality to the world,” HMSI Vice President Y S Guleria told reporters here on the sidelines of a foundation stone laying  ceremony for its upcoming plant at Vithalapur in Ahmedabad district. However, Honda is yet to finalise the facility it has in the country from where it will start manufacturing CBR-650.

cbr-650Besides the upcoming unit at Vithalapur, Honda has a total of three plants in Haryana, Rajasthan and Karnataka. When asked about the capacity of the Vithalapur plant, Guleria said that the quantum is yet to be decided. “As of now, we have not decided on units as numbers are too small… and very quick decision can be taken, but we are not expecting very high volume,” he said. Guleria further said that the Japanese auto giant’s purpose to start making CBR-650 bikes is in tune with the ‘Make in India’ commitment of the company. Honda has also not finalised the price tag for the sportsbike for its Indian customers. “The purpose (to start manufacturing the bike in India) is to build in India and also the affordability aspect will be considered for customers with Make in India  commitment,” he said. CBR-650 is 649 cc sports bike with the four-cylinder double overhead camshaft (DOHC) engine technology and having the six-speed gearbox, as per the Honda website.

-ET

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