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Chandrayaan-3, Indian Lunar Mission Delayed Or Indefinitely Postponed?

Chandrayaan-3 will be India’s second attempt to land on the moon. Last year India launched Chandrayaan-2 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota but failed to land the rover on the moon.

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The launch date of Chandrayaan-3, India’s ambitious mission to complete the nation’s first lunar landing is likely to be delayed due to COVID-19. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has also been shut since the nationwide lockdown which has directly impacted the Chandraayan-3 program.

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Undeterred by the crashing of Vikram moon lander in 2019, ISRO had announced earlier this year that it will launch Chandraayan-3.

The latest lunar mission will reportedly cost 6.15 billion rupees, or about $91.2 million at current exchange rates making it considerably less expensive than Chandrayaan-2, which was priced at 9.7 billion rupees ($136.1 million). ISRO is planning for landing at the same location as the Chandrayaan-2 crash site.

The older mission (Chandrayaan-2) featured an orbiter as well as a lander and rover, which explains the higher price tag. Chandraayaan-3 doesn’t need an orbiter since the Chandrayaan-II orbiter remains in good condition and should continue to operate for years to come, ISRO officials have confirmed.

A successful Chandraayan-3 soft landing on the surface of the moon will see India joining China, United States and Russia in the elite list of countries to have achieved this feat.

Chandrayaan-3 Launch Date Delayed?

However, due to the global pandemic, ISRO is facing a possible delay in its third lunar mission. K Sivan, ISRO Chairman, spoke about the impact COVID-19 has had on the organization in an interview last month.

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He said that that all research and development and manufacturing were at a standstill, and only the work that is possible was either being done from home or via video calling.

Sivan also said the situation can only be fully assessed after the lockdown ends.‘’We cannot take any decision at this stage. We will have to wait for the lockdown to be lifted,” he said

The lockdown is not the only reason for the possible delay of Chandrayaan-3. With the country pouring all available funds into dealing with the economic impact of the pandemic, there might be a reassessment of what is essential in the current scenario.

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Experts speaking to the EurAsian Times believe that any costly expenditure in the near future that is not meant for public relief or boosting the economy will draw criticism from the public. Hence it would be in the best interest to put any current plans on hold which could also mean a possible deferment of the Chandrayaan-3 while suspension looks unlikely.

Apart from Chandrayaan-3, the outbreak has thrown ISRO’s other plans in a limbo too. The organization had also planned around 24 additional launches including Gangayan flight (in December 2020 and India’s first solar probe, Aditya in the summer.

Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that aims to send 3 astronauts to space for a minimum of 7 days by 2022, as part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme.

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Chandrayaan-3 – India’s Second Attempt

Chandrayaan-3 will be India’s second attempt to land on the moon. Last year India successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, aboard a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket.

The main objective was to circle the moon and provide information about its surface. Unfortunately, the Vikram moon lander crashed and lost contact with the scientists.

India refuses to see the crash of the Vikram moon lander as a failure and says it has a lot to learn from it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi told his country’s space scientists he was proud of a programme that had come so near to putting a probe on the Moon. The best is yet to come in our space programme. India is with you,” he said.

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Similar views were shared by Union Minister Jitendra Singh, as reported by the EurAsian Times earlier,  who felt it was wrong to term Chandrayaan-2 as a disappointment since it was India’s first attempt to land on the lunar surface and no country was successful in their first attempt.

India’s reignited interest in space under PM Modi stems from China’s increasing extraterrestrial capabilities besides the economic revenues it can bring with it. Space diplomacy is the way forward in international relations and India seems to be already on the right trajectory.

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Amitabh Bachchan – Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan tests positive for COVID-19

Amitabh Bachchan tweeted – I have tested COVID positive, shifted to hospital, hospital informing authorities, family and staff undergone tests , results awaited. All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested,” he wrote.

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Amitabh Bachchan – Bollywood superstar has tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday evening and was admitted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. Bachchan confirmed the same in a tweet.

“I have tested covid positive, shifted to hospital, hospital informing authorities, family and staff undergone tests , results awaited. All that have been in close proximity to me in the last 10 days are requested to please get themselves tested,” he wrote.

Bachchan was last seen in Shoojit Sarkar’s Gulabo Sitabo that released on Amazon Prime Video. Two films, Jhund and Chehre are ready for release while he is yet to complete Ayan Mukherji’s Brahmastra along with Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt.

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US threatens Russia with consequences for paying bounties to Taliban in Afghanistan

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The US has threatened to respond if the Pentagon confirms reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan. While Russia denies its involvement in any such operation, US-Russia relations could further deteriorate if the reports are confirmed.

The Pentagon is investigating reports of Russian bounties to kill US soldiers in Afghanistan and if found to be true, the US has promised to retaliate. Moscow on the hand has denied involvement in any such operation.

Speaking in front of the House armed services committee, General Mark Milley, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff said that the Pentagon was committed to discovering whether Russian military intelligence had paid the Taliban for attacks on American soldiers in Afghanistan.

“We’re going to get to the bottom of this bounty thing. If there are bounties, I’m an outraged general, just like every one of us in uniform is,” Milley said. “That’s a real big deal. We don’t have that level of fidelity yet, but we’re still looking.”

Despite vowing to retaliate, Milley suggested that the US may not be responding to the reports as robustly as necessary in non-military ways. The 62-year old admitted that the US was perhaps not doing enough.

The issue is at the strategic level,” he said. “Is there diplomatic, and informational and economic … sanctions, are there démarches, are there phone calls, is there pressure, those sorts of things. And I can tell you that some of that is done.’’

Mark Esper, the defence secretary, was also testifying to the House armed services committee. Esper said that the reports did not come from any of the nine of the total of 17 US intelligence agencies under Pentagon’s authority, implying the information leaked to the press in recent weeks came from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or another civilian agency.

The reports first came to notice in January and were ignored because they lacked credibility. It was only in February that Gen Kenneth McKenzie and the defence secretary became aware of them in February.

Milley confirmed that the investigation is not over and promised to get to the bottom of the situation. President Donald Trump has insisted he was not briefed on the Russian bounties.

Russia Denies Involvement

While American intelligence agencies work to confirm reports, Russia denies the existence or its involvement in any such operation. Moscow says the U.S. is trying to portray Moscow as an all-purpose bogeyman.

“I would like to say officially that these allegations, distributed by the media, are downright lies. No concrete evidence has been presented,” Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, said this week in an online forum with the Center for the National Interest.

Other Russian officials point out that Moscow would have little incentive to establish such a program given the high risk of getting caught.

According to NPR, the Russian military intelligence known as the GRU is believed to be behind the suspected Russian bounty program in Afghanistan. The GRU has an aggressive and high-risk culture and is hence preferred by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The New York Times was the media outlet to report about Russia secretly offering money to the Taliban in exchange for killing American soldiers in Afghanistan.

If confirmed, it would be the first time the Russian spy unit was known to have orchestrated attacks on Western troops and could have a severe impact on Washington-Moscow relations.

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Srebrenica genocide: Pakistan draws similarity between 1995 Srebrenica massacre with Kashmir

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

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Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan on Saturday urged the world community to “learn a lesson” from 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and “not let such massacre happen again.”

“Today, we are observing the 25th memorial anniversary of the genocide that took place in Srebrenica. I still remember the day very well along with most people who have humanity in their hearts. I remember when it happened. we were shocked. We were appalled how in a what was a safe haven of United Nations peacekeeping forces, this massive massacre was allowed to happen.

“I still feel the shock how such a thing could have been allowed by the world community, Khan said in a video message aired by state-run Pakistan Television. “I think, It is important that we learn lessons from that, the world community must never let such things to happen again,” he went on to say.

Drawing a parallel between Srebrenica genocide, and the current situation in Indian-administered Kashmir, Khan said he feared a massacre similar to that in Srebrenica could happen in the disputed Himalayan valley.

“Today, 800,000 Indian troops have besieged 8 million people of Kashmir. And we all fear a similar sort of massacre might follow there,” he said, adding: “So the world community must take notice, and never allow such acts to take place there.”

Kashmir and Palestine

In a Twitter post, in connection with the 25th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: “July 2020 marks 25 years since the Srebrenica Massacre, the murder of over 8000 Bosnian Muslims & ethnic cleansing of over 20’000 people. The world has a collective responsibility to ensure history is not repeated.”

“What is happening in Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Palestine is chillingly similar,” he added, referring to Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and New Delhi’s scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s longstanding special status in August 2019.

Every year on July 11, newly identified victims of the genocide are buried in a memorial cemetery in Potocari, eastern Bosnia and Herzegovina. Thousands of visitors from various countries attend the funeral services and burials.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will participate in this year’s memorial program via video link. During a two-day visit to Bosnia’s capital Sarajevo last year for a similar event, Erdogan attended a procession to commemorate thousands of innocents who fell victim to the genocide.

More than 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were killed when Bosnian Serb forces attacked the UN “safe area” of Srebrenica in July 1995, despite the presence of Dutch troops tasked with acting as international peacekeepers.

Srebrenica was besieged by Serb forces who were trying to wrest territory from Bosnian Muslims and Croats to form their own state.

The UN Security Council had declared Srebrenica a “safe area” in the spring of 1993. However, Serb troops led by General Ratko Mladic — later found guilty of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide — overran the UN zone.

The Dutch troops failed to act as Serb forces occupied the area, killing about 2,000 men and boys on July 11 alone. Some 15,000 Srebrenica residents fled into the surrounding mountains, but Serb troops hunted down and killed 6,000 of them in the forests.

UK ‘stands with’ all feeling Srebrenica genocide pain

British administration on Saturday “reiterated the UK’s commitment to supporting reconciliation across the Western Balkans,” on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“Today (11 July) marks twenty-five years since the Srebrenica genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the worst atrocity in Europe since the end of the Second World War,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) statement said.

“Today I stand with all who continue to feel unimaginable pain from the genocide 25 years ago at Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.

“The United Kingdom has worked to support justice for the victims, find the missing & promote reconciliation,” he added.

Underlining that more than 8,000, mostly Muslim men and boys, were murdered and over 20,000 women and children were forcibly expelled from their homes, the UK urged “all parties to reject hate speech and the glorification of the perpetrators of genocide and war crimes.”

The statement also said the “verdicts from international and domestic courts must be respected.” Raab said: “On the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide, we remember the victims and the anguish of their families.

“During my time in the Hague between 2003 and 2006, pursuing those responsible for this dark chapter in European history, I was reminded daily of the heinous cruelty perpetrated against the innocent.

“The UK is determined to end impunity and help rebuild those countries affected – as our commitment to the ICC, and UK investment and support for Bosnia demonstrates.”

Turkey pays homage

he Turkish president on Saturday remembered the Srebrenica martyrs on the 25th anniversary of the genocide. “We will always stand by our Bosnian brothers in their search for justice. The Srebrenica Genocide will never be forgotten,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a video message.

As part of the 25th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide, Erdogan spoke via video link at the memorial ceremony held at the former accumulator factory used by the United Nations troops as a base in the war in Bosnia.

Erdogan stressed that despite all tragedy and tears, European politicians have learned no lessons from Srebrenica Genocide, adding that free use of words that “fuel enmity towards Islam and support xenophobia is a source of concern for our future.”

“Even though it has been a quarter of a century since the genocide, our pain is still fresh. Our hearts wrenched with every mass grave unearthed,” he said. Erdogan wished God’s mercy on Srebrenica martyrs and patience to their families, their loved ones and to all who feel pain in their hearts.

 

By Aamir Latif, Ahmet Gurhan Kartal

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