kin of mumbai attack victims welcome

Relatives of victims of the 2008 Mumbai attack victims on Wednesday welcomed the execution of the lone surviving attacker, Ajmal Kasab, saying justice has been finally delivered. In Varanasi, Sunita Yadav, wife of victim Upendra Yadav, expressed her gratitude to the authorities for carrying out the execution.

Daily Bollywood News:Bipasha Basu - Bollywood will remain a hero-centric business

Women are active in show business like never before, but will they surpass the status Bollywood heroes enjoy? Never, says Bipasha Basu, who feels there is minimum opportunity for female actors in the Hindi film industry

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Friday, December 4, 2009

"Mission STS-129" - Delivering the Goods

Space shuttle Atlantis' STS-129 mission was an ambitious and demanding undertaking that began Nov. 16, 2009, with a spectacular and on-time liftoff at 2:28 p.m. EST from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Atlantis launches on the STS-129 mission

Image above: Space shuttle Atlantis lifts off from the exhaust cloud building on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Sandra Joseph and Kevin O'Connell

› High-res Image

Aboard were Commander Charles O. Hobaugh, Pilot Barry E. Wilmore, Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Mike Foreman, Robert L. Satcher Jr. and Randy Bresnik. In addition to the crew, there were nearly 30,000 pounds of replacement parts packed in the Express Logistics Carriers, or ELCs, secured inside Atlantis' payload bay.

With a picture-perfect launch behind them, the first task at hand on Nov. 17 was checking the shuttle's wing leading edges and nose cap using the orbiter boom sensor system. The end of the boom consists of cameras and lasers, giving experts on the ground 3-D views of the shuttle's heat shield to ensure there wasn't any damage from launch.

Later in the day while the shuttle was catching up with the International Space Station, Bresnik, Foreman and Satcher checked out the two spacesuits they would use for the three planned spacewalks.

Once in range of the station on Nov. 18, the shuttle was delicately maneuvered into the rendezvous pitch maneuver, or "backflip," where Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Jeffrey Williams and Nicole Stott took photos from their vantage point.

Atlantis payload bay

Image above: Backdropped by Earth's horizon, a partial view of Atlantis' payload bay, vertical stabilizer, orbital maneuvering system pods and docking mechanism are featured in this image. Photo credit: NASA/JSC

› High-res Image

Images from the first and second inspection were sent back to Earth for experts to review, making sure the shuttle would have a safe flight back through Earth's atmosphere.

It's a Fact:

The weight and mass of the cargo flown on Atlantis was far too large to have been launched aboard any other space vehicle.

Hobaugh then carefully guided Atlantis closer to the station until it was locked into the station's docking port on the Harmony node. It took a couple hours for a series of hatch leak checks to be performed and once accomplished, the hatches were opened and the Atlantis crew was enthusiastically greeted and welcomed aboard the station by the Expedition 21 team.

As the hatch opened, Nicole Stott's responsibilities as station flight engineer officially ended and she became an STS-129 mission specialist for the remainder of her time in space. Stott is the last NASA astronaut to experience the rotation of launching from and being returned to Earth by a space shuttle. In the future, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft will be used for station crew rotations.

With a demanding to-do list ahead of them, the two crews began with the first task at hand. ELC 1 was grappled from Atlantis' payload bay by Melvin and Bresnik with the shuttle's robotic arm and handed off to the station's robotic arm controlled by Wilmore and Williams. The platform was permanently installed to the outside of the station to store large cargo.

Station and shuttle crew greet

Image above: STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members greet each other shortly after space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station docked in space and the hatches were opened. Photo credit: NASA/JSC

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That evening Foreman and Satcher spent the night camping out in the Quest airlock preparing for their first spacewalk. After stepping out into space the next day, Foreman and Satcher completed all major tasks almost two hours ahead of schedule. In addition, Foreman was able to successfully connect a cable on the Unity node -- one that was uncooperative for the STS-128 crew in September.

Inside the station, work was ongoing to prepare for the arrival of the Tranquility node, which will be flown on shuttle Endeavour's STS-130 mission targeted for early 2010.

Overnight, a false depressurization alarm sounded and woke the crew, but flight control teams on the ground determined there was no danger to the station or crew. In the STS-129 post-landing crew press conference, Satcher said, "The training the crew members received helped them deal with the false alarms that went off a few times during their stay on the orbiting outpost."

The relocation of supplies and equipment between Atlantis and the station continued Nov. 20, in addition to tackling a variety of maintenance, troubleshooting and science activities -- keeping both station and shuttle crews busy.

Early the next morning, the second carrier with almost 10,000 pounds of large spare parts, including an attitude-control gyroscope, was moved from the shuttle's cargo bay to its permanent location on the S3 side of the station's truss, or backbone.

Spacewalking Randy Bresnik

Image above: Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik, near the Columbus laboratory, participates in the STS-129 mission's second spacewalk. Photo credit: NASA/JSC

› High-res Image

The two platforms that were attached to the station allow additional storage space for the mountain of supplies and equipment needed for the smooth and efficient running of the orbiting laboratory, now and well into the future after the shuttles are retired.

A little later, Foreman and Bresnik made their way into the emptiness of space for the second successful spacewalk of the mission. They not only completed their tasks ahead of schedule but also accomplished some get-ahead jobs -- all in six hours, eight minutes.

Meanwhile, another success story was in the making. On the morning of Nov. 22, Bresnik was told by the Mission Control Center in Houston that his wife, Rebecca, had given birth to their daughter, Abigail Mae Bresnik. He was assured that both baby and mother were doing just fine. Atlantis' crew members were given a well-earned, half day off to celebrate. The rest of day was dedicated to preparing for the third spacewalk on Nov. 23, featuring Satcher and Bresnik.

The space excursion began more than an hour later than planned because a drinking-water valve in Satcher's spacesuit became dislodged and the helmet had to be opened to reattach the valve. With the fix behind them, Bresnik and Satcher completed all the tasks in just five hours, 42 minutes -- almost on time, regardless of the late start.

STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew

Image above: STS-129 and Expedition 21 crew members gather for a formal portrait. Photo credit: NASA/JSC

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Later, the last of the mission's spare hardware was moved thanks to the combined effort of all 12 shuttle and station crew members.

On Nov. 22, the shuttle and station crew members said their final farewells before the hatches between shuttle Atlantis and the station were securely closed -- after which the shuttle crew prepared for undocking.

Wilmore eased the shuttle away from the station circling around the outpost. Crew members videoed and snapped photos of the orbiting laboratory in order to assess its exterior condition.

One more survey was in store for the shuttle's heat shield with Wilmore and Melvin using the orbiter boom sensor system -- a five-hour process.

Atlantis crew members spent part of Thanksgiving preparing for their Nov. 27 landing date. They tested the thruster jets that control the shuttle's orientation in space and during early re-entry, as well as the flaps and rudders that guide it through the atmosphere. Atlantis lands ending mission STS-129

Image above: Space shuttle Atlantis touches down on the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Tim Terry

› High-res Image

The day didn't pass without a surprise, though. A traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings found its way aboard Atlantis before undocking -- compliments of the Expedition 21 crew members.

It was a perfect end to a nearly perfect mission. After the twin sonic booms echoed and Atlantis came out of a clear-blue sky, the vehicle and crew touched down on Kennedy's Shuttle Landing Facility on Nov. 27 at 9:44 a.m. EST.

After winding up a successful 11-day flight to deliver spare parts, other equipment and supplies to the International Space Station, the crew took their last walk around the vehicle that served them well from start to finish.

After a short ride to crew quarters, the astronauts were given a thorough medical exam and met with their families. On Nov. 28, the crew flew home to Houston, and on Nov. 30, they were honored at a homecoming ceremony held at nearby Ellington Field.

Atlantis' STS-129 mission was the 31st flight dedicated to space station assembly, resupply and maintenance -- one that should help keep the station supplied well into the future.

Elaine M. Marconi
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Stall of Right-Rear Wheel Ends Drive

Little Movement in Spirit's Sol 2099 Drive
This blink comparison aids evaluation of a drive by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit during the rover's 2,099th Martian day, or sol (Nov. 28, 2009). Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Spirit's right-rear wheel stalled again on Sol 2099 (Nov. 28, 2009) during the first step of a two-step extrication maneuver. This stall is different in some characteristics from the stall on Sol 2092 (Nov. 21). The Sol 2099 stall occurred more quickly and the inferred rotor resistance was elevated at the end of the stall. Investigation of past stall events along with these characteristics suggest that this stall might not be result of the terrain, but might be internal to the right-rear wheel actuator. Rover project engineers are developing a series of diagnostics to explore the actuator health and to isolate potential terrain interactions. These diagnostics are not likely to be ready before Wednesday. Plans for future driving will depend on the results of the diagnostic tests.

Before the Sol 2099 drive ended, Spirit completed 1.4 meters of wheel spin and the rover's center moved 0.5 millimeters (0.02 inch) forward, 0.25 millimeters (0.01 inch) to the left and 0.5 millimeters (0.02 inch) downward. Since Spirit began extrication on Sol 2088, the rover has performed 9.5 meters (31 feet) of wheel spin and the rover's center, in total, has moved 16 millimeters (0.63 inch) forward, 10 millimeters (0.39 inch) to the left and 5 millimeters (0.20 inch) downward.

Guy Webster 818-354-6278

Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Dwayne Brown 202-358-1726

NASA Headquarters, Washington


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Expedition 21 Crew Lands in Kazakhstan

Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft

Image above: The Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft carrying Flight Engineers Frank De Winne, Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk lands in the steppes of Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos/NASA TV

Expedition 21 Flight Engineer and Soyuz Commander Roman Romanenko, European Space Agency Flight Engineer Frank De Winne and Canadian Space Agency Flight Engineer Robert Thirsk have returned to Earth, landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan in their Soyuz TMA-15 spacecraft. Landing occurred at 2:15 a.m. EST Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. Kazakhstan time.

All three crew members were reported to be in good condition. Due to icy conditions at the landing site, the landing support team recalled its helicopters to their bases in Kustanai and Arkalyk, Kazakhstan. Instead the team arrived in all-terrain vehicles from nearby Arkalyk to extract the Expedition 21 crew members from the Soyuz crew module.

Romanenko, De Winne and Thirsk spent 188 days in space, 186 of those aboard the orbiting International Space Station. The three arrived at the station in May as part of Expedition 20, which marked the start of six-person crew operations aboard the station. With their arrival, all five of the international partner agencies – NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) – were represented on orbit for the first time.

Romanenko, a cosmonaut with Roscosmos, served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21. He was selected as a test-cosmonaut candidate of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Cosmonaut Office in December 1997. The son of veteran Cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko, he qualified as a test cosmonaut in November 1999.

De Winne, an ESA astronaut, served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21 and commander for Expedition 21. He spent nine days aboard the station in 2002 as a member of the Odissea mission arriving on a new spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-1, then leaving on an older Soyuz TM-34.

Thirsk, a CSA astronaut, served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 20 and 21. In 1996, Thirsk flew as a payload specialist astronaut aboard space shuttle mission STS-78, the Life and Microgravity Spacelab mission.

After traveling back to the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, the crew members will be reunited with their families and start their reorientation to a gravity environment after a half year off the planet.

Commander Jeff Williams and Flight Engineer Maxim Suraev remain on the station, comprising the Expedition 22 crew as a two-man contingent for three weeks until the arrival Dec. 23 of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kotov, NASA’s T.J. Creamer, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, who will launch to the station Dec. 20 on the Soyuz TMA-17 craft.

Scientists Explain Puzzling Lake Asymmetry on Titan

The northern and southern hemispheres of Titan, showing the great disparity between the abundance of lakes in the north and their paucity in the south.

The northern and southern hemispheres of Titan, showing the great disparity between the abundance of lakes in the north and their paucity in the south. The hypothesis presented favors long-term flux of volatile hydrocarbons, predominantly methane, from hemisphere to hemisphere. Recently, the direction of transport has been from south to north, but the effect would have reversed tens of thousands of years ago. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/UA/SAR
Larger image

PASADENA, Calif. -- Researchers at the California Institute of Technology, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and other institutions suggest that the eccentricity of Saturn's orbit around the sun may be responsible for the unusually uneven distribution of lakes over the northern and southern polar regions of the planet's largest moon, Titan. A paper describing the theory appears in the Nov. 29 advance online edition of Nature Geoscience.

Saturn's oblong orbit around the sun exposes different parts of Titan to different amounts of sunlight, which affect cycles of precipitation and evaporation in those areas. Similar variations in Earth's orbit also drive long-term ice-age cycles on our planet.

As revealed by Synthetic Aperture Radar imaging data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft, liquid methane and ethane lakes in Titan's northern high latitudes cover 20 times more area than lakes in the southern high latitudes. The Cassini data also show there are significantly more partially filled and now-empty lakes in the north. (In the radar data, smooth features -- like the surfaces of lakes -- appear as dark areas, while rougher features -- such as the bottom of an empty lake-appear bright.) The asymmetry is not likely to be a statistical fluke because of the large amount of data collected by Cassini in its five years surveying Saturn and its moons.

Scientists initially considered the idea that "there is something inherently different about the northern polar region versus the south in terms of topography, such that liquid rains, drains or infiltrates the ground more in one hemisphere," said Oded Aharonson of Caltech, lead author of the Nature Geoscience paper.

However, Aharonson notes that there are no substantial known differences between the north and south regions to support this possibility. Alternatively, the mechanism responsible for this regional dichotomy may be seasonal. One year on Titan lasts 29.5 Earth years. Every 15 Earth years, the seasons of Titan reverse, so that it becomes summer in one hemisphere and winter in the other. According to this seasonal variation hypothesis, methane rainfall and evaporation vary in different seasons -- recently filling lakes in the north while drying lakes in the south.

The problem with this idea, Aharonson said, is that it accounts for decreases of about one meter per year in the depths of lakes in the summer hemisphere. But Titan's lakes are a few hundred meters deep on average, and wouldn't drain (or fill) in just 15 years. In addition, seasonal variation can't account for the disparity between the hemispheres in the number of empty lakes. The north polar region has roughly three times as many dried-up lake basins as the south and seven times as many partially filled ones.

"How do you move the hole in the ground?" Aharonson asked. "The seasonal mechanism may be responsible for part of the global transport of liquid methane, but it's not the whole story." A more plausible explanation, say Aharonson and his colleagues, is related to the eccentricity of the orbit of Saturn -- and hence of Titan, its satellite -- around the sun.

Like Earth and other planets, Saturn's orbit is not perfectly circular, but is instead somewhat elliptical and oblique. Because of this, during its southern summer, Titan is about 12 percent closer to the sun than during the northern summer. As a result, northern summers are long and subdued; southern summers are short and intense.

"We propose that, in this orbital configuration, the difference between evaporation and precipitation is not equal in opposite seasons, which means there is a net transport of methane from south to north," said Aharonson. This imbalance would lead to an accumulation of methane -- and hence the formation of many more lakes -- in the northern hemisphere.

This situation is only true right now, however. Over very long time scales of tens of thousands of years, Saturn's orbital parameters vary, at times causing Titan to be closer to the sun during its northern summer and farther away in southern summers, and producing a reverse in the net transport of methane. This should lead to a buildup of hydrocarbon -- and an abundance of lakes -- in the southern hemisphere.

"Like Earth, Titan has tens-of-thousands-of-year variations in climate driven by orbital motions," Aharonson said. On Earth, these variations, known as Milankovitch cycles, are linked to changes in solar radiation, which affect global redistribution of water in the form of glaciers, and are believed to be responsible for ice-age cycles. "On Titan, there are long-term climate cycles in the global movement of methane that make lakes and carve lake basins. In both cases we find a record of the process embedded in the geology," he added.

"We may have found an example of long-term climate change, analogous to Milankovitch climate cycles on Earth, on another object in the solar system," he said.

The paper's co-authors are Caltech graduate student Alexander G. Hayes; Jonathan I. Lunine, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson, Ariz.; Ralph D. Lorenz, Applied Physics Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Md.; Michael D. Allison, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York; and Charles Elachi, director of JPL. The work was partially funded by the Cassini Project.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission, visit: or . The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C.

WISE Snug in Its Nose Cone


WISE in the fairing mate

WISE is shown inside one-half of the nose cone, or fairing, that will protect it during launch. The spacecraft is clamped to the top of the rocket above the white conical fitting. The fairing will split open like a clamshell about five minutes after launch.

Credit: United Launch Alliance/ JPL-Caltech/JPL-Caltech

› Larger image NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer has been wrapped in the outer nose cone, or "fairing," that will protect it during its scheduled Dec. 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The fairing will split open like a clamshell about five minutes after launch. The spacecraft will circle Earth over the poles, scanning the entire sky one-and-a-half times in nine months. The mission will uncover hidden cosmic objects, including the coolest stars, dark asteroids and the most luminous galaxies.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages WISE for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The principal investigator, Edward Wright, is at UCLA. The mission was competitively selected under NASA's Explorers Program managed by the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md. The science instrument was built by the Space Dynamics Laboratory, Logan, Utah, and the spacecraft was built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., Boulder, Colo. Science operations and data processing take place at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information is online at and .

Monday, November 30, 2009

Orbiter Puts Itself Into Safe Standby

artist concept of Odyssey
Artist concept of Mars Odyssey. Image credit: NASA/JPL Mars Odyssey Mission Status Report

PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter put itself into a safe standby mode on Saturday, Nov. 28, and the team operating the spacecraft has begun implementing careful steps designed to resume Odyssey's science and relay operations within about a week.

Engineers have diagnosed the cause of the Nov. 28 event as the spacecraft's proper response to a memory error with a known source. The likely cause is an upset in the orbiter's "memory error external bus," as was the case with a similar event in June 2008.

In safe mode over the weekend, Odyssey remained in communication with ground controllers and maintained healthy temperatures and power. To clear the memory error, the team commanded Odyssey today to perform a cold reboot of the orbiter's onboard computer. The spacecraft reported that the reboot had been completed successfully.

"This event is a type we have seen before, so we have a known and tested path to resuming normal operations," said Odyssey Project Manager Philip Varghese of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Odyssey has been orbiting Mars since 2001. In addition to its own major scientific discoveries and continuing studies of the planet, the Odyssey mission has played important roles in supporting the missions of the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity and the Phoenix Mars Lander.

Until Odyssey is available again as a communications relay, Spirit and Opportunity will be operating with direct communications to and from Earth.

JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages Mars Odyssey for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, is the prime contractor for the project and built the spacecraft. Additional information about Odyssey is at

Atlantis Astros Feted Today; Endeavour Crew Rehearse for STS-130

After a flawless mission to resupply the International Space Station, the STS-129 crew members now are back at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. They will be honored with a homecoming ceremony at nearby Ellington Field today.

Meanwhile, preparations for space shuttle Endeavour and its crew are ramping up for the STS-130 mission targeted to launch Feb. 4, 2010.

Endeavour is scheduled to roll over from the orbiter processing facility to the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in late December. There, it will be lifted and attached to the waiting external tank and twin solid rocket boosters.

The STS-130 crew members, Commander George Zamka, Pilot Terry Virts Jr., Mission Specialists Nicholas Patrick, Robert Behnken, Stephen Robinson and Kathryn Hire, are rehearsing deorbit procedures today at Johnson.

Endeavour will deliver a third connecting module, the Tranquility node, to the station in addition to the seven-windowed Cupola module, which will be used as a control room for robotics.

Space Shuttle Mission: STS-129

STS-129 astronauts after landing at KSC
Image above: At the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, STS-129 Commander Charles O. Hobaugh comments on his successful mission for NASA Television. From left are Mission Specialists Leland Melvin and Mike Foreman; Hobaugh, at microphone; Mission Specialist Robert L. Satcher Jr.; Pilot Barry E. Wilmore; and Mission Specialist Randy Bresnik. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
› High-res image

› Meet the STS-130 Crew

Atlantis Lands in Florida
Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts ended an 11-day journey with a 9:44 a.m. EST landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Atlantis flew 171 orbits around Earth and traveled 4,490,138 miles since its Nov. 16 launch.

The STS-129 mission included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the International Space Station's truss, or backbone. The platforms hold large spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired.

The shuttle crew delivered about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. The shuttle left the space station 86 percent complete, weighing 759,222 pounds.

Astronaut Nicole Stott returned to Earth after 91 days in space. She had spent 87 days aboard the space station and 80 days as an Expedition 20/21 flight engineer. She is the last astronaut who will be transported to or from the space station by the space shuttle.

Atlantis' main gear touched down at 9:44:23 a.m., followed by the nose gear at 9:44:36 and wheel stop at 9:45:05 a.m.

STS-129 was the 129th space shuttle mission, the 31st for Atlantis and the 31st shuttle mission to the International Space Station. It was the fifth and final flight of 2009.

Indian automobile Mahindra, BAE Systems ink military vehicles' JV

Indian automobile major Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. and global defence security and aerospace company BAE Systems have signed an agreement to create a military vehicles-focused joint venture based in India at an investment of $21.25 million, it was announced Monday.

The two companies will infuse the funds in three years, with Mahindra holding 74 percent of the equity and BAE 26 percent in accordance with the Indian government's current defence sector foreign direct investment norms.

The JV, whose name is currently going through the official certification process, will be headquartered in New Delhi with manufacturing at a purpose-built facility south of Faridabad, just outside of Delhi.

Initially, there will be about 100 employees and existing projects include the Axe high mobility vehicle as well as armoured and bulletproof Scorpios and Boleros, the Rakshak rapid intervention vehicle and the Marksman light armoured vehicle, a Mahindra statement said.

'In anticipation of the new company, the two shareholders have been progressing a major new project to develop a mine protected vehicle specifically designed to meet the needs of the Indian armed and paramilitary forces,' the statement added.

The companies have worked in partnership to produce a prototype of this vehicle using the proven mine-defeating technologies of the BAE Systems' RG series of vehicles and Mahindra's expert knowledge of Indian requirements and conditions.

'This development process has resulted in a brand new mine protected vehicle currently named MPVI (Mine Protected Vehicle India). A prototype MPVI has been produced and will eventually be manufactured at the JV facility in Faridabad using indigenously produced materials,' the statement said.

It is also intended that the JV company will be involved in a number of future artillery programmes including the M777 lightweight howitzer and the FH77B 155mm howitzer.

'It is envisaged that the JV will become a centre of excellence for Indian artillery programmes,' the statement added.

According to Anand Mahindra, the vice chairman and managing director of the Mahindra Group, 'BAE Systems is the global number one land systems defence company and we couldn't have a better partner for this venture.

'We are already working together and the benefits for all parties, including the Indian defence and security forces, are clear. We look forward to making a major contribution both to the security and economy of India,' Mahindra added
Guy Griffiths, group managing director (International) of BAE Systems, said: 'As winner of the 2009 Frost and Sullivan Award for customer value enhancement, which recognises excellence in customer service, customer retention and ultimately customer base expansion, Mahindra Defence Systems is a great choice to be our land systems partner in India.

'The skills and knowledge of the two companies are an excellent fit, and the values and vision which we share will allow this venture to prosper and innovate. India recently became BAE Systems' seventh home market; this new company is a central part of that strategy,' Griffiths added

Tags : Mahindra Ltd, BAE Systems, India, new company, Indian automobile

Salman: I'm blessed

On World AIDS Day, Salman Khan writes on the films he did to spread awareness about AIDS and HIV....

Salman Khan writes

In 2004, Revathi wanted to make her directorial debut in Hindi and was looking for actors for Phir Milenge.

It was about an HIV positive person looking for a job. She went to a lot of stars to cast them for the film, but they all refused the part because they felt it might go against their image. So she approached me. The part appealed to me and the film itself had a meaning, an urgent message, and could do a lot of good in spreading awareness about HIV. Although the film was critically acclaimed, I still feel that it didn’t reach enough people. It could’ve been different if the treatment was in the local language.

Shilpa Shetty was actually the one who asked me to do the film. She was playing the role of the person living with HIV. It was a bold step on her part and made me realise that if a big actress like her could take this step, then so could I.

The premise of the film was about a person living with HIV looking for work. We wanted to show that one can live a normal life even after having contracted HIV and that life doesn’t have to change, if you don’t want it to. We must understand that HIV cannot be transmitted by hugging, living or working together. It tried to explore that once a person has been tested positive, it was possible to live a healthy life if one took all the necessary medication. They shouldn’t care what the world sees or perceives about them, instead should realise that they’ve got a second chance in life and should enjoy it responsibly and live it healthily.

It was the first time that an Indian film had been made on this topic, and that two mainstream actors who were doing well in their respective careers had taken this step. It was a very sweet film and I think it touched the hearts of a lot of people. I know it touched my family too.

My mother and I could see people’s impression about the virus and the people infected with it change after they had watched the movie. I think sometimes people need to be shaken up to face some harsh realities. But we also tried to make them understand that HIV, once contracted, can be treated. The message was for the youth to be aware and responsible for their actions. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so they must be aware and understand these issues.

In case people have unprotected sex, the next morning they panic but still don’t get themselves tested for HIV. People don’t donate blood because they are scared they will be tested for HIV. It’s not the virus that scares them, it’s the stigma attached to HIV.

There was another film the following year, My Brother Nikhil, but I don’t think many people watched it because it was a small-scale one. That’s why I think there have to be more hard-hitting films that reach out to more people and scares them, or at least makes them think about these things. But I also don’t think Bollywood is ready to make more serious films about this topic like Milk or Brokeback Mountain. Homosexuality, at least according to our cinema currently, is becoming a bit of a joke. But one needs to look at its flipside now and treat it with humour as well as sensitivity and seriousness. We need people to get into the issue and treat the subject with respect.

My trust, the Being Human Foundation, is an inspiration from my parents. It works to help people who need aid. Currently, we have not asked for monetary help from anyone. I only take money from my close friends and family and meet all the other funding requirements on my own. I am in the process of setting up a website for the trust and the idea is to make money for charity from the website. We’ll be selling things like bracelets signed by me, my paintings, sketches, clothes I’ve worn in my films. We’ll put it all for sale and the proceeds will go towards the charity. It’s a good feeling to see a child smile soon after being close to not living. I have been blessed by God who has given me so much, I don’t just want to lend my face to a cause; I want to be there and support it in as many ways I can. I want to teach people that the biggest gift in the world you can give to anyone is to be human.

Tags : Bollywood, Salman Khan, aids