Long March 4C Suffers Launch Failure with Gaofen-10 Earth Observation Satellite

The launch of a Chinese Long March 4C rocket carrying an Earth Observation satellite ended in failure Wednesday, marking the first orbital launch failure of 2016.

The 46-meter tall Long March 4C blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the Shanxi Province at 18:55 UTC on Wednesday, 2:55 local time Thursday morning, to send the Gaofen-10 satellite into a Sun Synchronous Orbit, departing the military launch site to the south.

A per China’s usual secrecy – especially for Taiyuan launches, prior notice of the planned mission only came via navigational warnings identifying the expected drop zones of rocket parts. Normally, Chinese launches are announced after successful mission completion by official media, but the announcement of launch success – expected around 40 minutes after liftoff – never arrived.

Read more at: Spaceflight 101

Chinese Officials Silent After Long March Rocket Failure

A U.S. Air Force spokesperson said Friday that the military has not detected any objects deployed in orbit by a Chinese Long March rocket launch Wednesday, but China’s official media outlets still have not acknowledged the apparent failure.

The Long March 4C rocket, standing 15 stories tall, was carrying the Gaofen 10 Earth imaging payload. The booster took off some time around 1855 GMT (2:55 p.m. EDT) Wednesday from the Taiyuan launch base in the Shanxi province of northern China.

Liftoff occurred in the wee hours of Thursday morning local time at Taiyuan, an arid launch site about 270 miles (435 kilometers) west of Beijing. The China Xinhua News Network Corp., the television arm of the nation’s government-run Xinhua news agency, released photos of the liftoff, but Chinese media never issued an update on the flight.  Official news agencies typically announce the success of Chinese rocket launches within hours.

Read more at: Spaceflight Now

Europe’s Earth-observing Sentinel-1A Satellite Hit by Space Debris

The European Space Agency (ESA) reported its Earth-observing Sentinel-1A satellite was apparently hit by a space particle Aug. 23. The tiny speck of space debris struck one of the spacecraft’s solar panels, causing a small power reduction and slight changes in Sentinel-1A’s orientation and orbit.

According to ESA, controllers noticed something was wrong at 1:07 p.m. EDT (17:07 GMT) Aug. 23. That was when they detected a sudden small loss of power. In order to determine the cause of this anomaly, engineers decided to turn on the spacecraft’s onboard cameras to check if everything is fine with solar arrays.

The pictures acquired by the cameras, which were placed there to monitor the initial deployment of the solar wings, allowed engineers to identify that something indeed had hit one of the two power-generating panels. “In this case, assuming the change in attitude and the orbit of the satellite at impact, the typical speed of such a fragment, plus additional parameters, our first estimates indicate that the size of the particle was of a few millimeters,” said Holger Krag, head of the Space Debris Office at ESA’s establishment in Darmstadt, Germany.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Commercial Crew Now Delayed Until Atleast 2018, Report Finds

Lots of rumors have swirled about further delays to NASA’s commercial crew program, and now the agency’s own inspector general has confirmed these setbacks in a new, critical report on progress toward first flights of Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Dragon crew capsules.

In the new review, Inspector General Paul Martin writes, “The Commercial Crew Program continues to face multiple challenges that will likely delay the first routine flight carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS until late 2018—more than 3 years after NASA’s original 2015 goal.”

Officially, NASA has maintained that it expects to have at least one test launch of a crew vehicle from US soil by the end of 2017 and regular flights by early 2018. However, Boeing has already acknowledged that an initial crewed Starliner launch will not occur until February 2018 at the earliest. Although SpaceX still maintains a launch is possible in 2017, that was before Thursday’s accident on the launch pad involving a static fire test of its Falcon 9 rocket. The new report from the inspector general also predates Thursday’s accident, the second major issue in 15 months associated with the Falcon 9 booster SpaceX intends to use as a launcher for the Dragon capsule.

Read more at: Arstechnica

SpaceX and Boeing Delays Could Mean More Money for Russia, NASA Watchdog Says

A recent report by NASA’s chief watchdog raised new doubts about the readiness of contractors to deliver astronauts to space, even before Thursday’s explosion of a SpaceX rocket. Any further delay, NASA’s Inspector General found, could mean a continued reliance on Russia to deliver American astronauts to space, a ferry ride that has been growing steadily more expensive.

Since the last shuttle mission blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in 2011, NASA’s astronauts have had to hitch rides to the International Space Station with Russia, the country America bested in the Cold War race to the moon.

That has come with a pricetag that grew precipitously after the shuttle was retired in 2011. A report issued this week by NASA’s Inspector General found the cost Russia charged to ferry U.S. astronauts jumped 384 percent over the last decade, growing from $21.3 million in 2006 to $81.9 million last year.

Read more at: Washington Post

ISS Spacewalkers Retract Thermal Radiator, Install HD Cameras

Two members of Expedition 48, NASA astronauts Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins, ventured outside the station for the second time in as many weeks. Their task was to retract an unused thermal radiator, install a new light bulb and attach high definition cameras on the truss of the International Space Station (ISS).

The Sept. 1 spacewalk started at 7:53 a.m. EDT (11:53 GMT), after the Quest airlock had completely depressurized and the two astronauts spacesuits’ switched to battery power. Williams was designated the lead spacewalker, EV-1, and wore red stripes on his suit. Comparatively, Rubins, EV-2, wore white stripes.

“Welcome back outside,” Williams said to Rubins after floating out of the airlock. This was his fifth Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and Rubins’ second. “Yeah, good to be out here,” Rubins said. The first order of business was to retract a thermal radiator on the P6 truss segment called the Trailing Thermal Control Radiator (TTCR), pronounced “ticker.” It is effectively a spare that was deployed years earlier in order to compensate for an ammonia leak.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

We Visited Mock Mars: Here’s What it’s Like to Live There

What’s it like to pretend to live on Mars for a year? A six-person crew recently got a pretty good idea, and Space.com was on-site to see the mock Red Planet habitat firsthand and talk with the mission crewmembers about their experience.

The HI-SEAS program (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) is a NASA-funded mission to study how humans would cope with living on the surface of Mars or another off-Earth location. Program participants, (most of whom possess many of the basic qualifications required for NASA astronaut applicants), stay in a habitat on a barren mountaintop, live on limited resources, have no physical contact with the outside world, and make minimal digital contact with friends and family.

It’s a situation most people wouldn’t dream of entering voluntarily, and yet the participants in the most recent HI-SEAS mission — who lived in the habitat for a year — said that, while they were happy to go back to their normal lives, they weren’t anxious to leave. One participant said he’d miss the habitat, others said they’d willingly return there and all six said they’d go to Mars if they could.

Read more at: Space.com

Mark Zuckerberg Seems Pretty Mad at Elon Musk About That Rocket Explosion

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg had his jaunt to Africainterrupted by some pretty unfortunate news Thursday: A SpaceX rocket exploded on a Florida launchpad, destroying a satellite Facebook was planning to use to offer Internet access in parts of the continent he’s currently visiting.

“As I’m here in Africa, I’m deeply disappointed to hear that SpaceX’s launch failure destroyed our satellite that would have provided connectivity to so many entrepreneurs and everyone else across the continent,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook hours after the incident.

“Fortunately, we have developed other technologies like Aquila that will connect people as well. We remain committed to our mission of connecting everyone, and we will keep working until everyone has the opportunities this satellite would have provided,” he added, referencing Facebook’s massive Internet-beaming drone.

Read more at: TIME

SpaceX Releases Updates on Amos-6 Falcon 9 Accident

SpaceX has released updates regarding the Sept. 1, 2016, accident that saw a Falcon 9 rocket and the Amos-6 satellite it carried destroyed. The NewSpace company has provided regular posts since the accident took place at 9:07 a.m. EDT (13:07 GMT) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s SLC-40.

The following posts have been issued SpaceX since yesterday’s incident:

“SpaceX has begun the careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for yesterday’s incident.  We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly.

We deeply regret the loss of AMOS-6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority.  SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion.  In the aftermath of yesterday’s events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.”

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

SpaceX Learns Another Hard Lesson

High-flying SpaceX, which thus far has done pretty much everything it has set out to do in unmanned spaceflight, was brought back to Earth with a thunderous launch pad explosion on Sept. 1 that rocked the Kennedy Space Center and destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and its payload, an Israeli communications satellite.

This is rocket science, after all. Accidents are bound to happen. SpaceX, short for Space Exploration Technologies Corp., will take its lumps and its engineers will sift through the wreckage to figure exactly what went wrong and why.

It was the same in the early 1960s when American rockets were blowing up on a regular basis at Cape Canaveral. (One veteran of the early days of spaceflight recalls that NASA tests were considered a “success” if the launch pad was not destroyed by an exploding Atlas booster!) The reality of spaceflight is that you must test, test and test some more, often blowing up hardware to determine what works and what doesn’t.

Read more at: EETimes

Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Orion Abort System Jettison Motor

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Aerojet Rocketdyne successfully conducted a full-duration test of the solid-fueled rocket motor designed to jettison the launch abort system and separate it from the Orion spacecraft.

This 1.5-second test took place at the company’s Rancho Cordova, California, facility. It was conducted on the third development motor. The test helped provide performance data for Aerojet Rocketdyne and Orion prime contractor Lockheed Martin.

“In today’s test, the jettison motor generated more than 45,000 pounds of thrust, which is roughly enough thrust to lift two school buses off the ground,” said Cheryl Rehm, Orion program manager at Aerojet Rocketdyne, in a release issued by the company. “Data from this test will be used to confirm our test objectives and ensure our readiness to begin manufacturing our qualification and production flight motors.”

Not to be confused with the abort motor that pulls the Orion crew vehicle from the launch vehicle, which would only be used in the event of an emergency, the jettison motor is a critical element of every flight.

Read more at: Spaceflight Insider

Human-rating the Atlas V Centaur for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

The United States is returning to conventional rockets and capsules as its means of getting astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Since retirement of the Space Shuttle in July 2011, the United States has been dependent on Russia and its Soyuz launch vehicles and spacecraft to get crews to and from the ISS.

That reliance will end when SpaceX with its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, and the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule, return this capability to American soil. SpaceX will launch crews from the reconfigured LC-39A complex at Kennedy Space Center, and ULA will launch from its Space Launch Complex 41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Read more at: Space Review

‘Heavenly Palace’: China to Launch Two Manned Space Missions This Fall

The two missions are expected to become the country’s first steps to establishing a new space station in low-Earth orbit over the next decade.

Tiangong-2, which means “Heavenly Palace,” is a small space laboratory module, and will be launched in mid-September from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, atop a Long March 2F rocket. The space lab is slated to adopt on orbit at an altitude of some 244 miles (393 kilometers) above Earth, and will serve as the first component for China’s future space station.

Following that launch, in October the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft will launch from the same site, and dock with the Tiangong-2, delivering two male astronauts for a month-long mission, China Manned Space Engineering (CMSE) office reported. To make the endeavors possible and improve conditions for future manned mission launches, engineers have upgraded the launch center, introducing 22 technical renovations, Li claimed.

Read more at: Space Daily

Russia’s Roscosmos May Build Infrastructure for S Korea’s KSLV-2 Rocket Launch

Russia’s Roscosmos state corporation could participate in the development of ground infrastructure for the launch of the South Korean KSLV-2 rocket, the head of Roscosmos said Saturday.

“A memorandum will be signed now and we hope that it will be followed by an agreement, contracts, joint actions on [the development] of ground infrastructure for the KSLV-2 rocket and all corresponding works,” Igor Komarov told reporters at the Eastern Economic Forum.

Read more at: Sputnik News

Jeff Bezos to Receive $250,000 Prize

On Wednesday, September 14, Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos will receive the Heinlein Prize for Accomplishments in Commercial Space Activities at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

The prize, named for science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein, honors Bezos’s work with his spaceflight company Blue Origin, which has successfully tested reusable space vehicles and hopes to offer human spaceflight by next year. Among the activities scheduled for that evening: A chat with Bezos, as well as a meal, dancing, tours of the museum, and a wine reception.

Bezos will also receive $250,000, according to an invitation to the affair. That’s the standard prize for the Heinlein, of which he is the third recipient, following SpaceX honcho Elon Musk in 2011 and X Prize Foundation founder Peter Diamandis.

Read more at: Washingtonian

Roskosmos to Develop Space Tourism in 2 Years

The Russian space agency, Roskosmos, will send the first space tourist to the orbit “within next two years,” the agency’s head Igor Komarov said in an interview with TASS on Sept. 3. “I believe, within next two years [the first tourist will fly to the orbit],” he said. “The time to prepare a flight of the kind takes not a week or a month. It will take more than a year.”

Russia will develop the project together with foreign counterparts, Komarov said. However, he refused to name them. “I think, we shall talk about it before the end of the year,” he said. “We have requests from very serious counterparts, the industrial counterparts, those, who work in the sphere of space and produce space equipment.”

“The plan is the following: before the end of the year we shall have talks, then we sign an agreement and reach detailed plans,” Komarov said.

Read more at: RBTH

Progress Slow But Moving Forward at Spaceport America, Leaders Say

In the middle of New Mexico is a $220 million bet that the commercial space age will be profitable.

Spaceport America is a vast, 27-square mile, taxpayer-funded facility that has been operating for three years and done more than two dozen launches. But it is still waiting for its biggest customers to lift off. This is where Richard Branson wants to launch tourists to the edge of space for Virgin Galactic. He wanted this to happen in 2009 but it hasn’t, and a fatal test crash in 2014 has pushed everything back. SpaceX has also moved in, but its launch pad is quiet.

“Virgin has not a launch yet neither has SpaceX,” said William Gutman, vice president of aerospace ops at Spaceport America. “We’re ready for both of them but neither one of them has gotten to that point yet.”

In the last year, positive steps have been taken. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has experienced a stunning record of successes, especially in recovering boosters which Musk considers key to bringing down the cost of space.

Read more at: Kob

How to Dock Cubesats

The miniature satellites known as CubeSats already play a variety of roles in space. In future they could also serve as the building blocks of other, larger missions by being docked together in orbit.

CubeSats are nanosatellites of standardised dimensions based on multiple 10-cm-sided cubes, which ESA is employing for both educational and technology-demonstration purposes.

“The ability to autonomously rendezvous and dock CubeSats could enable in-orbit assembly of larger structures that simply would not be possible in any other way,” explains Roger Walker, overseeing ESA’s technology CubeSats. ”Think for instance of constructing a very large telescope mirror or radio antenna for astronomy out of separate CubeSat segments, getting around size limitations set by our rocket fairings.”

Read more at: ESA

The Impossible Propulsion Drive is Heading to Space

The EmDrive, a hypothetical miracle propulsion system for outer space, has been sparking heated arguments for years. Now, Guido Fetta plans to settle the argument about reactionless space drives for once and for all by sending one into space to prove that it really generates thrust without exhaust.

Even if mainstream scientists say this is impossible.

Fetta is CEO of Cannae Inc, and inventor of the Cannae Drive. His creation is related to the EmDrive first demonstrated by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 2003. Both are closed systems filled with microwaves with no exhaust, yet which the inventors claim do produce thrust. There is no accepted theory of how this might work. Shawyer claims that relativistic effects produce different radiation pressures at the two ends of the drive, leading to a net force. Fetta pursues a similar idea involving Lorentz (electromagnetic) forces. NASA researchers have suggested that the drive is actually pushing against “quantum vacuum virtual plasma” of particles that shift in and out of existence.

Read more at: Popular Mechanics

Space Elevator Fans Keep Looking Up, Even When They’re Stuck on the Ground Floor

Once upon a time, entrepreneurs were counting down to a date in 2018 when the first space elevator would open for business. NASA was setting aside millions of dollars to promote the technologies required for building that elevator. And space elevator fans were looking forward to a breakthrough that would drive the cost of space travel down to mere hundreds of dollars.

Today, the countdown is on indefinite hold. The NASA money is gone. And the dream of building the space elevator has been eclipsed by billionaire Elon Musk’s dream of putting colonists on Mars by the mid-2020s.

Nevertheless, the fans are still keeping the faith, and they’re backing up that faith with research studies. About 35 of them gathered today at Seattle’s Museum of Flight to kick off the 2016 Space Elevator Conference, presented by the International Space Elevator Consortium.

Read more at: Geekwire

India Likely to Launch 68 Foreign Satellites in One Mission Next Year

India is likely to launch a record 68 foreign satellites in one space mission next year, a top official has said.

“There are many launches. There is one particular launch we are planning about 68 satellites, that’s also there, that is yet to be finalised,” the head of the state-owned Indian Space Research Organisation’s commercial arm Antrix, Rakesh Sasibhushan, told the media Tuesday. “We got orders to launch 68 satellites from various countries, including 12 from PlanetiQ, a US-based weather forecasting satellite firm,” he added.

The Indian space agency had scripted history in June when it successfully launched 20 satellites in a single mission on board its workhorse PSLV-C34 from the southern spaceport of Sriharkota. It’s earlier record was in 2008 when it had launched 10 satellites at one go.

Read more at: Space Daily

China: the New Space Superpower

At 8pm Beijing time on 25 June this year the tropical darkness over China’s Hainan province was temporarily banished by a blinding orange light. Accompanied by the thunderous roar of engines, a 53m-tall rocket pushed itself into the sky.

An increasing number of Chinese rockets have launched in the past few years but this one was significant for three reasons. It was the first launch of the new Long March 7 rocket, designed to help the Chinese place a multi-module space station in orbit. It was the first liftoff from China’s newly constructed Wenchang launch complex, a purpose-built facility set to become the focus for Chinese space ambitions. And it was the first Chinese launch where tourists were encouraged to go along and watch.

For a space programme that has long been shrouded in secrecy, it’s a major step. The Wenchang complex has been designed with large viewing areas, and in the sultry heat of that June night, tens of thousands of spectators stood cheering as the rocket began its 394km journey above the Earth and into orbit.

Read more at: Guardian

What is the Speed of Light?

Since ancient times, philosophers and scholars have sought to understand light. In addition to trying to discern its basic properties (i.e. what is it made of – particle or wave, etc.) they have also sought to make finite measurements of how fast it travels. Since the late-17th century, scientists have been doing just that, and with increasing accuracy.

In so doing, they have gained a better understanding of light’s mechanics and the important role it plays in physics, astronomy and cosmology. Put simply, light moves at incredible speeds and is the fastest moving thing in the Universe. It’s speed is considered a constant and an unbreakable barrier, and is used as a means of measuring distance. But just how fast does it travel?

Read more at: Universe Today

Lockheed Martin Gets $204 Million Aegis Contract Modification

Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training has received a $204 million contract modification for Aegis missile defense efforts.

The cost-plus-incentive-fee, sole-source modification to the previously awarded contract covers Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense continuation of Baseline 5.1, Increment-2 development, as well as the adaptation of Aegis Ashore efforts. Completion of these efforts will provide a certified Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense 5.1 baseline.

Read more at: Space Daily

Delta IV Launch to Help Detect Threats to Satellites

For most of the public, space represents a peaceful expanse where astronauts push humanity’s boundaries, science probes explore the solar system and great observatories peer back in time. U.S. military officials, however, are increasingly worried about the potential for conflict in space.

As the nation and its allies have grown more dependent on intelligence, communications and navigation satellites, military leaders fear those spacecraft are vulnerable to attack. “Space has been, until recently, a ‘sanctuary’ from intentional attack, but that sanctuary status has now eroded or vanished,” reads a National Academies report released this week titled, “National Security Space Defense and Protection.”

A launch early Friday by a Delta IV rocket is part of Air Force efforts to deter any aggressive action against national security and commercial satellites flying high above the globe.

Read more at: Florida Today

Robot Designed to Test NASA’s Pre-Apollo Spacesuits Heads to Auction

Before NASA launched men to walk on the moon, the space agency almost turned to a human-like robot to test its astronauts’ prototype spacesuits. The hydraulic-powered android might have worked, too — had it not been for its tendency to leak oil when used.

Now, 50 years after its rejection, one of the robot dummies is set to be sold among 100 “Remarkable Rarities” offered by RR Auction. The 10-day online auction will begin Sept. 15 and culminate in a live sale at Royal Sonesta Boston on Sept. 26.

“Only two of the test robots were produced — the other is on display and owned by the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum,” Robert Livingston, RR Auction executive vice president, in a statement. “This [robot] was purchased as surplus from the University of Maryland.”

Read more at: Space.com

“Mister President, Their Rocket Blew Up.”

Early every morning except Sunday, the President of the United States receives an exclusive publication known as the President’s Daily Brief. The PDB, as it is known, contains a short summary of significant events around the world as compiled by the US intelligence community. It is delivered directly to the president by intelligence officials who are prepared to answer the president’s questions on the information it contains, or seek further information to provide him. On July 5, 1969, only 15 days before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the Moon, intelligence officials delivered a PDB to President Richard Nixon that provided dramatic information on the status of the Moon Race.

“A major Soviet unmanned space launch toward the Moon 3 July ended in failure as a result of an explosion on the launch pad or an early inflight failure of the launch vehicle.

Deployment of Soviet recovery ships in the Indian Ocean indicated that the spacecraft was intended to return to earth. [several deleted words in text] claimed that the USSR would launch a rocket to the Moon and bring back samples of lunar soil before the scheduled launch of the Apollo 11 mission. Whether this operation was intended to land on the Moon and bring back samples cannot be established at this time, but it is within Soviet technical capabilities to attempt such a mission.”

Read more at: Space Review

In a Political Season

Many, if not most, people I know don’t want to talk about it — the election, that is. Lots of them have views but they don’t want to share them, based on a dislike of contentiousness. Who likes conflict?

There is an article floating around the Internet that I lost track of that says nobody’s mind ever changes in a heated debate about something so vital, so why engage? At least we’re not burning people at the stake for holding nonstandard beliefs the way they did in the Middle Ages.

I agree with them, and wading into this swamp can’t be good, so let me take some cards off the table. I’ll discuss politics, but I won’t discuss candidates or anything election-related. What’s left, you might ask? Well, quite a bit.

Read more at: Technews world

How will the Next President Impact NASA?

It is a fact of life that major NASA programs have to be ever mindful of a very earthly but critical calendar: our presidential political calendar. Every four, or sometimes eight, years we select a new president. With that new president comes a brand new administration, changing priorities and another review of NASA’s mission and a critical look at their major programs and goals.

Programs such as Apollo, the Space Station and the Shuttle spanned several administrations before actually seeing a launch or service for our country. With every new administration even these historic programs faced these same challenges and hurdles. In fact, the Space Station came within a single vote in the House of Representatives of being cancelled. Major and complex programs that inspire our nation and produce new scientific discovery take several years of work and development before hardware is constructed, new rockets are fired and their potential can be fully realized.

NASA’s newest great program is the Space Launch System or SLS. This program will take us back to the Moon’s orbit and eventually take humans to Mars. SLS is a program with the potential to inspire a new generation to look beyond our atmosphere. But before that potential can be realized SLS will need a sustained national effort by NASA spanning years and successive Administrations. As we look to November and a new President this SLS program is at a crossroads.

Read more at: Al.com

Strike Rockets into Space Age, Cripples ISRO

Left-ruled Kerala’s history of street protests entered the space age today when the all-India trade union strike hobbled work at three Indian Space Research Organisation centres, including the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.

Strike supporters had laid siege to the Isro garage at the city’s Pattom neighbourhood, from where buses ferry employees to the Sarabhai Centre, Liquid Propulsions Systems Centre and the Isro Inertial Systems Unit. A sizeable proportion of the 5,000 employees use the official bus service, which starts at 8.45am every day.

“Hundreds of contract staff too work at the three centres, and had also been allowed to use the bus today,” a source at the Sarabhai Centre said. “But the gherao prompted some to go back home while others arrived late. It severely affected work.” The source said this was the first time in at least two decades that a strike had affected work at the Sarabhai Centre, which is usually spared by the political parties because of its reputation.

The protest also hit the movement of rocket parts to Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh for certain scheduled launches. The vehicles in which these had been loaded were also parked at the Pattom garage.

Read more at: Telegraph India