SB&T From Around The World Updates

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I'm starting this thread as a place to drop in non-threaded news and updates from around the world.

Italian Space Plane Prototype to Attempt Daring Maneuvers
Jeremy Hsu":1whxnqkk said:
01 March 2010
12:43 pm ET

Hypersonic space planes may someday fly into space from airport runways, but an Italian aerospace firm first wants to test whether such futuristic vehicles could still pull off high-speed maneuvers during the fiery re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
Related Wiki article :
Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle
The IXV is scheduled to make its first orbiting flight in 2012, launched by Vega, Europe’s new small launcher.

Related news from the University of Queensland:

One $14m step towards scramjets for access to space
Published: 27 February 2010
The University of Queensland will lead a $14 million international consortium to help develop scramjet-based access-to-space systems, flying an autonomous scramjet vehicle at eight times the speed of sound – Mach 8, or 8600 km/h.

In parallel, scramjet concepts will be tested at even greater speeds, up to Mach 14, in UQ's world class hypersonic ground-test facilities.
Partners in the new program include four Australian universities — UQ, the University of Adelaide, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Southern Queensland; and a US university, the University of Minnesota.

It also includes three international aerospace organisations — DLR in Germany, JAXA of Japan and CIRA of Italy; Australia's Defence Science and Technology Organisation; the Australian Youth Aerospace Association; and industry partners including Brisbane firm Teakle Composites Pty Ltd, Cairns firm AIMTEK Pty Ltd, BAE Systems Australia, and Boeing Research and Technology Australia.

“Access to – getting into – space is necessary for the deployment of space-based systems and technologies for communications, remote sensing, climate monitoring and space science, “ Professor Boyce said.

Centre for Hypersonics at UQ



Cebit opened :
World's top high-tech fair goes 3D
by Staff Writers
Hanover, Germany (AFP) March 2, 2010
The world's biggest high-tech fair opened Tuesday with IT giants aiming to bounce back strongly from a terrible 2009 by wooing consumers with trendy gadgets.

Wiki : Cebit

'Aerospace' search gives just a couple of results, i guess you didn't know about, and all sorts of other tech is very space related, see for yourselves.


Roskosmos and CNES cooperation :
Protocol on Joint Actions in 2010 in the Scope of French-Russian Cooperation on Perspective Launchers (“Oural” Programme) has been Signed by Head of Roscosmos and President of CNES

Yesterday Head of Roscosmos A.N. Perminov, during his mission in Paris had a meeting with president of CNES Yannick d'Escatha. The main subject of the meeting were the questions of bilateral French-Russian cooperation on development and utilization of launch vehicles, human spaceflight, space sciences.
During this year French and Russian specialists must jointly develop pilot project of the ultra-light launch vehicle reusable first stage demonstrator


Related news from Pravda.Ru :
Russia Signs Major Deal to Sell 14 Soyuz Booster Rockets to France

Jean-Yves Le Gall of France’s Arianespace confirmed rumors about the intention to purchase Soyuz booster rockets from Russia.

"We have ordered 14 Soyuzes from the Russian Federation; the contract's cost is about $1 billion. These are ambitious plans," Le Gall said at a Russian-French business forum, held as part of President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to France, RIA Novosti reports.


From Wright-Patterson Air Force Base :
Air Force Eyes Mini-Thrusters for Use in Satellite Propulsion
Posted 3/2/2010 Updated 3/2/2010
by Maria Callier
Air Force Office of Scientific Research

3/2/2010 - ARLINGTON, Va. -- Mini- thrusters or miniature, electric propulsion systems are being developed, which could make it easier for the Air Force's small satellites, including the latest CubeSats, to perform space maneuvers and undertake formidable tasks like searching for planets beyond our solar system.


Robot Vs. Robot: Live in Washington and Across the Nation

March 04, 2010

WASHINGTON -- NASA, in cooperation with local technology firms and sponsors, launches a nationwide series of high school robotics competitions that begin March 5 and 6 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place N.W., in Washington. The two-day event runs daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. It is free and open to the public. NASA Television will carry opening ceremonies starting at 9 a.m. EST (6 a.m. PST) March 5.


From ESA :
New investment fund backs space technologies finding uses on Earth
5 March 2010
For years, ESA has been bringing space technologies down to Earth through its Technology Transfer Programme and Business Incubation initiatives. Now, the Agency will strengthen these initiatives by supporting new businesses using space innovations through a dedicated venture capital fund.

The Open Sky Technologies Fund (OSTF) is an early-stage venture capital fund aimed at nurturing the most promising business opportunities arising from space technologies and satellite applications for terrestrial industries. The OSTF will be managed by Triangle Venture Capital Group on ESA’s behalf.
The fund has attained an initial 'first closing' value of €15 million, with the target of raising up to €100 million by June 2011. It will source investment opportunities across all 18 ESA Member States identified through ESA’s Technology Transfer Programme Office (TTPO) and its partners.


From SDC :
China Targets More Space Program Firsts
By Stephen Clark
posted: 08 March 2010 01:40 pm ET

The leaders of China's human spaceflight endeavors say 2011 is shaping up to be the most ambitious year in the history of the country's space program.

and related news from Moon Daily :
Rocket To Go To Moon Under Design
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (XNA) Mar 09, 2010
A new heavy-thrust carrier rocket is under scientific research, with the goal of sending astronauts to the moon, scientists said.

From Wiki : Long March 5
Long March 5 (LM-5, CZ-5, or Changzheng 5) is a Chinese next-generation heavy lift launch system that is currently under development by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).


From Discovery News :
Mini Helicopters Create Flying Display
By Tracy Staedter | Mon Mar 8, 2010 10:26 AM ET

This has got to be one of the coolest ideas I've seen in a while: Miniature helicopters with LED lights flying in a pattern that creates a display in the air. Think of each helicopter acting as a pixel on a giant, airborne display.


from Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Raster Image Display – Mona Lisa


From Roscosmos :
Joint Statement: International Space Station Heads of Agency
: 11.03.2010

The heads of the International Space Station (ISS) agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia and the United States met in Tokyo, Japan, on March 11, 2010, to review ISS cooperation. With the assembly of the ISS nearing completion and the capability to support a full-time crew of six established, they noted the outstanding opportunities now offered by the ISS for on-orbit research and for discovery including the operation and management of the world’s largest international space complex. In particular, they noted the unprecedented opportunities that enhanced use of this unique facility provides to drive advanced science and technology. This research will deliver benefits to humanity on Earth while preparing the way for future exploration activities beyond low-Earth orbit. The ISS will also allow the partnership to experiment with more integrated international operations and research, paving the way for enhanced collaboration on future international missions.


From OnOrbit :
NASA Offers 'Fast' Opportunities for Zero-G Technology Testing
by keithcowing on Thu, 03/11/2010 - 21:21.

NASA has announced opportunities to test emerging technologies during flights on an airplane that simulates the weightless conditions of space. The technologies should have potential use in future NASA projects, support future exploration systems, or improve air and space vehicle capabilities.

NASA's Facilitated Access to the Space Environment for Technology, or FAST, program helps emerging technologies mature through testing in a reduced gravity environment. In order to prepare technologies for space applications it is important to demonstrate that they work in a zero-gravity environment.


From SDC :
Zero-G Launches Airborne Weightless Science Lab
By Staff

posted: 12 March 2010
01:53 pm ET

Scientists who want to conduct research on Mars, the moon, and in space don't have to travel that far anymore.

A commercial company is offering researchers a chance to fly in a plane that simulates weightless and low-gravity environments like the moon, Mars, and Earth-orbit.

Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G) announced the new program, known as ZERO-G Weightless Lab, on Thursday. The company already flies special airplanes in parabolic arcs to simulate microgravity experiences for paying passengers. Now they are offering Martian, lunar, and hyper gravity environments as well. The ZERO-G Weightless Lab is open to academic, corporate and government agency customers.



From Roscosmos :

ISS Programme Members are Ready to Cooperate with Third Countries, Including China
:: 15.03.2010

According to ITAR-TASS interview with head of ROSCOSMOS Anatoly Perminov during the Russian, American, European, Canadian and Japanese space agencies summit on ISS further exploitation, ISS programme members are ready to cooperate with third countries, including China

Perminov said: “China isn't a participant of joint programmes onboard of ISS yet, but everybody (delegations of ISS programme members) find possible for the third countries with manned flight programmes or projects that ISS allows to realize to cooperate in the scope of ISS programme. Third states interested in such cooperation can propose the projects and then they will be discussed by ISS programme members”.

The intention to cooperate with the third countries was also manifested by NASA director Charles Bolden, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain, and Canadian space agency head Steve Mclean, JAXA head Kenji Tachikawa on the space agencies summit on ISS further exploitation final press-conference in Tokyo. Kenji Tachikawa said: “At the present time Chinese space activity is fully independent, however if China or India are interested to join (ISS programme) we are ready to consider such proposals”.



Russia and Japan Have Discussed the Details of Mercury Mission with EU Participation
:: 15.03.2010

According to ITAR-TASS interview with head of ROSCOSMOS Anatoly Perminov during the Russian, American, European, Canadian and Japanese space agencies summit on ISS further exploitation, heads of Russian and Japanese space agencies have discussed the details of Mercury mission project that must be realized with EU participation.

Perminov said that he has already negotiated this topic with JAXA head Kenji Tachikawa. Meeting agenda included the discussion of details of Mercury mission with ESA participation. This project concerns equipment preparation, spacecraft design, Earth-Mercury flight and Mercury flyby with its surface and atmosphere exploration. Design work is on the way and realization will approximately begin in 2014.

Perminov have discussed with Tachikawa Russian Japanese space cooperation in three spheres. In the first place it's cooperation in the scope of ISS programme and joint experiments onboard. “We already have good backlogs in this direction. Now, with Japanese “Kibo” segment integrated into ISS structure the opportunities are sufficiently enhanced”, said Perminov. He reminded that: “We have received good results of medical-biological experiments on proteins crystal growth for new anti-tuberculosis medicines recently and such work will be continued”

Also, according to him, one more possible sphere of cooperation is remote sensing systems design to use these kind of systems results of work to support sustainable ecological conditions both on Japanese and Russian territory and to provide the information concerning earthquakes and tsunamis



From SDC :

India Boosts Space Budget
By Space News Staff

posted: 15 March 2010
01:34 pm ET

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will receive 57.78 billion rupees ($1.25 billion) for 2010 — a 38 percent increase over last year — under the budget approved Feb. 26 by India's Parliament.


This is related, from Roscosmos :
According to Vladimir Putin, Russia and India Will Realize Indian Cosmonaut Space Flight Joint Programme in 2015
:: 15.03.2010

According to Vladimir Putin, Russia and India will realize Indian cosmonaut space flight joint programme in 2015. This statement was made March 12th after the negotiations with Indian Prime-Minister at New Delhi.

Russian Prime-Minister notes, that Russian-Indian space cooperation is developing quite well and both sides plan the manned spaceflight for Indian cosmonaut for 2015.

Vice-premier Sergey Ivanov imposed the responsibility for this project to ROSCOSMOS. He said that Russian side must provide spaceship and descent module. He also stressed that this project isn’t related to ISS programme.

Vladimir Putin stressed the importance of Russian-Indian space cooperation in such matters as launch services for Indian satellites provided by Russia, joint manned spaceflight programmes, scientific exploration of outer space, particularly, Moon missions. Russian Prime-Minister mentioned that Russian strategic space programme plan emphasizes space cooperation as a major factor for space exploration and utilization.

Putin also stated the possibility of Indian participation in Russian satellite positioning programme GLONASS. The cooperation on questions of navigation can have a positive impact for both Russian and Indian economics.

Remote sensing was also stated as perspective way to develop Russian-Indian space cooperation, which can be used for ecological monitoring, natural resources exploration and security.

The result of Russian-Indian negotiations was a signature of important agreement series in matters of satellite positioning between public entities and private actors.


ESA highlights online games as key future technology
23 March 2010
Video gaming has become one of the globe’s most popular pastimes. Fans say games are often educational, their detractors answer they are anything but. Might ESA have something to learn from gaming? A new Agency study says the answer is yes.

It comes from ESA’s Technology Observatory, which is tasked with scanning non-space sectors to look for developments with potential for spin-in or joint research. The study, Online Game Technology for Space Education and System Analysis, looks at potential applications of different online game-playing technologies from the simplest content-oriented games through to Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) virtual worlds.

The study highlights a number of ways in which these technologies could benefit ESA aims: immersive environments based on these technologies could enhance collaborative working of project scientists and engineers. It was also recognised that exciting online games could prove an excellent tool for promoting space and supporting the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths.

As part of the study, a video of a potential future game environment was produced, showing future human exploration of Jupiter’s ice moon Europa.

Exploratory learning environments

Learning through games

Related news, from SpaceRef :

MMORPG and Virtual World Platform Provider MindArk Completes Online Games Study Contract for European Space Agency
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MindArk PE AB, developer and publisher of Entropia Universe and Entropia Platform, announced today that a study on the use of online game technology for space-related purposes has been completed. The contract for the study was awarded to MindArk by the European Space Agency (ESA) in 2009 and a film presenting the main findings is published on YouTube.

To illustrate the feasibility of the study findings MindArk has produced a visual mock-up based on a live game environment in Entropia Universe. This is available as a video on the MindArk channel on YouTube:
About MindArk

Sweden-based company MindArk are the creators of the Entropia Platform and Entropia Universe, a 3D virtual universe for entertainment, social interaction and e-commerce. The platform offers access to one of the most advanced Internet interaction venues available today, giving business partners the opportunity to create entirely new planets in Entropia Universe. Some of the themes in production by partners right now are shopping, games, social interaction, music and art. Entropia Universe is a free download available at the game's official website,

For more information on MindArk and the Entropia Platform, please contact us at the numbers below or go to our website at


There are Cube Sats in this thread, and this is about Cube Sails : : Nanosatellite sets sail to tackle space junk
14:22 26 March 2010 by Paul Marks

The first spacecraft designed to do away with itself was unveiled on Friday. It will try out an idea that could stop space getting clogged up with junk orbiting the Earth.

The debris of abandoned spacecraft and satellites is building up in low Earth orbit. This zero-g scrapheap has grown by 40 per cent in the past four years alone, with the US air force now tracking 19,000 orbiting objects larger than 10 centimetres across. And as chunks of debris strike each other, they fragment further – presenting still more threat of collision to working spacecraft.

The diminutive CubeSail craft, measuring 30 by 10 by 10 centimetres and weighing just 3 kilograms, has been designed at the Surrey Space Centre at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. It has a solar sail that it can use for propulsion – harnessing the pressure of sunlight, just as a boat's sail harnesses the pressure of the wind – but it can also use the sail as an "orbital brake" to help it de-orbit to a fiery death in the atmosphere.

Helping to solve the scrapheap challenge (Image: Surrey Space Centre)

University of Surrey : Surrey Space Centre

Achievements :
The Surrey Nanosatellite Application Platform (SNAP) was developed through research projects within the Space Centre and launched in June 2000. This small 8.5kg satellite was the world's smallest fully functional nanosatellite complete with miniaturised attitude control system for 3-axis stabilised satellites using a miniature momentum wheel; miniaturised GPS receiver for autonomous orbit control; a propulsion system for formation flying manoeuvres; a CMOS machine vision system for automated inspection and an inter-satellite communication system for receiving GPS data from other satellites in a formation. This platform reduces the costs of missions to LEO by a further order of magnitude from the low cost microsatellites and paves the way for robotic space missions.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd :
Completed missions :


from : India Developing Winged Reusable Rocket
by Staff Writers
Bangalore, India (PTI) Mar 30, 2010
India is developing a winged reusable rocket and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has configured a Technology Demonstrator as a first step towards realising it, the space agency said in a report.

India's space scientists have already configured a winged Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD). This is a first step towards realising a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-reusable launch vehicle, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

An engineering model of the Indian space shuttle called “Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator” at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. PHOTO: ISRO

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram
(no info, or at least i couldn't find it)


RIA : Brazil to develop carrier rocket by 2014
17:39 - 05/04/2010

Brazil plans to develop its own carrier rocket for conveying small satellites into orbit by 2014, the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) said on Monday.

The agency said the rocket is being built by its main satellite launch vehicle project, VLS.

The project was initially frozen in 2003 after an explosion destroyed a rocket on the pad at the Alcantara Launch Center in northern Brazil, killing 21 people.

The test launch of the VLS-1 rocket is scheduled for 2012 and the first launch of the fully loaded rocket is due in 2013, the agency said in a statement.

Earlier reports said Russia may take part in the project. In 2009, a delegation from the Brazilian Institute of Aeronautics and Space (IAE) visited the Makeev State Rocket Center in Miass, near the city of Chelyabinsk in the Russian Urals.

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 5 (RIA Novosti)

© RIA Novosti. Igor Zarembo

Wiki : Brazilian Space Agency

Translated home page : ... =&ie=UTF-8
Original :

Google translated Portuguese/English pages from

original :

Translated : Brazil wants to win his place in space

The Brazilian government will take the first step to entering the commercial launch of satellites, with the construction of a second site to launch rockets at medium Alcantara Launch Center (CLA), Maranhao, due to be delivered in 2011.

So far, the launches were from the CLA test equipment and research.
The plan provides that the Cyclone 4 rocket, a satellite launch vehicle (SLV), built by binational Alcantara Cyclone Space (ACS), which has the Ukraine as a partner, be ready next year, when you start the tests required for commercial launches.

Wiki : Alcântara Launch Center

Wiki : Tsyklon-4


SDC : China Shifts Space Station Project Into Overdrive
By Clara Moskowitz Staff Writer
posted: 15 April 2010
02:03 am ET

COLORADO SRINGS, Colo. – China is planning to launch three spacecraft between 2011 and 2016 to form the basis of a manned space station, the director of the Chinese Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said Wednesday.

China plans to launch its first space station module, Tiangong 1, during the first half of 2011, said Wang Wenbao, CMSEO director general, addressing an audience of American and international space industry workers here at the 26th National Space Symposium.

The endeavor is part of an ambitious space program for China, which is only the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to independently launch humans to space. The country's third manned spaceflight, the Shenzhou 7 mission in 2008, featured China's first spacewalk.


Indian rocket tumbles back to Earth during test launch

Article on

Indian rocket tumbles back to Earth during test launch
Posted: April 15, 2010

A new hydrogen-fueled third stage tumbled out of control during the launch of India's most powerful rocket Thursday, dooming the $74 million test flight and dealing a blow to the country's burgeoning space program.

The objectives of the sixth flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle "were not met fully," said K. Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

The primary goal of the launch was to demonstrate a new Indian-built cryogenic third stage consuming super cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants. The cryogenic engine was supposed to ignite about five minutes after liftoff.

File photo of a previous GSLV launch. Credit: ISRO

"The cryo stage ignition was issued as planned by the on-board computer," Radhakrishnan said. "Indications are that the cryo engine ignited. This is to be confirmed after detailed analysis of the data. We saw the vehicle was tumbling, indicating the controllability was lost, most probably [because] the two vernier engines, small cryo engines, would not have ignited and developed the necessary control force."

The two vernier, or steering, engines were supposed to provide small amounts of force to keep the rocket on track during the third stage's 12-minute burn.

But tracking graphics showed the rocket began losing altitude seconds after officials announced third stage ignition. The vehicle reached a maximum altitude of about 87 miles and was traveling approximately 11,000 mph at the time of the mishap, according to displays in the launch control center.

Launch controllers lost tracking data on the uncontrolled rocket a few minutes later as it plunged back into the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean. The final tracking fix on the launcher indicated the vehicle was descending at an altitude of 41 miles about 1,000 miles southeast of the Satish Dhawan Space Center on India's east coast.

"The vehicle was seen tumbling, lost altitude and finally splashed down in the sea," ISRO said in a written statement.

The test flight was a pivotal milestone for India's space program, especially for the country's stated goals of launching its own satellites and developing a manned spacecraft.

The Indian government is on the verge of deciding on a potential human space program aiming to put two astronauts into orbit by 2017. Under such a program, crews would launch into orbit on a rocket using a variant of the Indian-built cryogenic stage.

The GSLV entered service in 2001, but Thursday's mission was the booster's first launch with an Indian-built third stage. Previous missions flew with a Russian cryogenic upper stage purchased by India.

The Russian stage was blamed for two minor glitches in 2001 and 2007 that stranded payloads in slightly different orbits than planned. A liquid-fueled strap-on booster triggered a dramatic explosion shortly after a launch in 2006.

Three other GSLV flights were completely successful.

International missile and defense technology agreements stipulated Russia could only provide ready-made third stages for the GSLV, forcing India to start an in-house program to design and build its own upper stage.

The GSLV's indigenous third stage is prepared for launch. Credit: ISRO

Russia sold seven cryogenic third stages to India in the 1990s. Two units remain in ISRO's inventory for future GSLV flights.

It took nearly two decades to produce India's own cryogenic rocket stage, according to ISRO, the country's space agency.

The first flight of the new cryogenic stage was recently delayed nearly a year as engineers thoroughly tested and analyzed the system's expected performance.

"All of the engineers, scientists, technicians and the entire ISRO team have worked very hard to reach this level," Radhakrishnan said. "It is really the effort of 18 years working on this complex technology. The realization of the cryogenic engine and stage up to a level of flying was, itself, a major accomplishment."

Hydrogen-fueled rockets are more efficient than other propulsion systems.

"Cryogenic stage is technically a very complex system compared to solid or Earth-storable liquid propellant stages due to the use of propellants at extremely low temperatures and the associated thermal and structural problems," said an ISRO fact sheet.

During a public statement announcing the anomaly Thursday, Radhakrishnan said ISRO is targeting a second flight of the indigenous cryogenic upper stage within one year.

But engineers will first investigate the cause of the launch failure.

"The detailed analysis of the flight data will be carried out and we will find out the reasons for the non-ignition of the vernier engines," Radhakrishnan said. "We will also confirm that the main cryogenic engine ignited."

The GSLV performed as expected during the first five minutes of the flight, ISRO officials said.

The 164-foot-tall rocket blasted off from the space base on Sriharikota Island at 1057 GMT (6:57 a.m. EDT). Liftoff occurred at 4:27 p.m. local time at the launch site, which is situated about 50 miles north of the city of Chennai.

After pitching east from the launch pad, the GSLV's four liquid-fueled strap-on boosters and solid-fueled core stage pushed the rocket through partly cloudy skies to the edge of space in less than four minutes.

The GSLV launches Thursday. Credit: ISRO

The GSLV second stage separated about five minutes into the flight, and the cryogenic stage ignited moments later.

Propellant tanks made of aluminum alloy inside the 28-foot-long third stage contained more than 28,000 pounds of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen for the flight. The cryogenic engine was designed to burn for nearly 12 minutes, producing a peak thrust of more than 16,000 pounds.

After reaching its target orbit, the upper stage was programmed to deploy the 4,894-pound GSAT 4 experimental communications and navigation satellite, which was also destroyed during Thursday's launch failure.

GSAT 4 carried a high-tech regenerative Ka-band transponder for broadband and multimedia communications trials, a navigation payload to augment Global Positioning System signals for aviation applications, and four plasma thrusters to help keep the spacecraft in the correct position.

The rocket launched Thursday is named the GSLV Mk.2 because it is a second-generation configuration.

Another GSLV upgrade will introduce a brand new liquid-fueled first stage, two massive solid rocket boosters, a restartable second stage and a more efficient third stage. The GSLV Mk.3 upgrades were slated to begin flying in 2012.

India plans to launch the smaller Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle around May 5 with the Cartosat 2B Earth observation satellite and several smaller spacecraft for international organizations.


Cmon, that's 4 launches more than most countries ;)

More important is, they are putting together a station, very likely with Russian docking mechanism, or at least compatible to some extent.
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