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Virgin Orbit reveals launch window for next mission to space.

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The launch window for Virgin Orbit’s next mission to space will open during the last week of June, and for the first time ever you will be able to watch it live on YouTube.

The upcoming mission comes after a successful flight into orbit earlier this year. Cosmic Girl, Virgin Orbit’s adapted Virgin Atlantic 747, soared to 30,000ft to launch the Virgin LauncherOne rocket, which took off from under its wing, delivering satellites into orbit.

The upcoming mission will be called Tubular Bells, Part One, in homage to Virgin’s musical roots and Mike Oldfield’s classic Virgin Records album.

Mission Progress 

LauncherOne has been shipped to Mojave Air and Space Port, where it is now comfortably mated to Cosmic Girl’s left wing.

The team at Virgin Orbit has been hard at work completing final checks ahead of the next mission to space – including a hugely successful cryoload last week. Cryoload is the first time Virgin Orbit loads cryogenic propellants (i.e. liquid oxygen for those of us who aren’t scientists) onto the rocket and fully pressurize the system all the way up to flight-like levels. During this test, Virgin Orbit was able to achieve all of its planned objectives, including 100% LOX and fuel fill and nominal pressurization of all high-pressure gas systems with no tank leakage.

This successful test means that wet dress rehearsal is next – and, like every rocket, wet dress rehearsal is the one big hurdle prior to launch, serving as an opportunity to run through all combined launch operations up until takeoff. If all looks good, Virgin Orbit will be in the clear to push forward and commit to launch.

The team is also making sure the satellites are ready for their journey to orbit. On this flight, there will be a total of seven spacecraft from the Department of Defense Space Test Program, SatRevolution, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

Why Virgin Orbit is launching satellites

Small satellites have huge potential to change people’s lives for the better. They connect us to each other, help us understand the world around us, keep us safe, grow the world’s economies, and expand the limits of human knowledge.

In recent years, satellites have gotten smaller and cheaper but launching them can still be a challenge, as companies and researchers are often forced to wait many months for a rideshare on larger rockets with primary payloads, meaning they have little control over their schedule or orbital destination.

Like the satellites its customers are flying, its launch system is light, fast, flexible, and affordable. Virgin Orbit uses a 747 airplane and a runway rather than a launch pad – this is a route to space that can be made from any airport in the world.

Source: Virgin Orbit.

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In Pictures: President Solih meets with the leaders of Adhaalath Party to discuss concerns on Hate Speech Bill.

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China finds 1 billion tons of oil and gas.

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Chinese oil and gas giant PetroChina has found a massive reserve of oil and gas in North Western China.

The oil and gas reserve was found within the Tarim Basin. According to PetroChina, the oil and gas was found in an area deemed as “ultra-deep”.  The Tarim Basin is one of the most challenging areas to explore due to its harsh and complicated  ground conditions. However, it is also highly petroliferous.

Due to this, the output from the basin has significantly increased within the past six years, from 30,000 tons a year to 1.52 million in 2020. It is expected to reach 2 million tons in 2021.

 

Source: Xinhua News Agency.

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Leaked documents show India refused to withdraw military personnel and helicopters from the Maldives even after their Visa’s expired.

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Allegations that Indian influence in the Maldives has been one of the most debated topics in the Maldives. Accusation that India has influenced the last Presidential Election and the current administration is a common topic for political debates. However, a series of documents has been leaked by a local news showing communication between the Maldives Foreign Ministry and the Indian High Commission during the previous administration. The documents show the Government of Maldives requesting the Indian High Commission to withdraw their Helicopter stationed in the Maldives. The documents cement the allegations by the public that India has been increasingly overstepping on the sovereignty of the Maldives.

Below is a timeline of the events, first published in Dhivehi language on “Dhiyares News”.

In a letter dated 22nd April 2018, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High commission on its decision to return the Helicopter being operated from Addu city by the end of June 2018.  While the letter maintain diplomatic composure, based on the events that took place, it is evident that there was tension between the two parties.

A second letter was sent on 06th May 2018. In the second letter, the Government of Maldives informed the Indian High Commission that the agreement for the helicopter operated out of Laamu atoll had expired on 01st may 2018, and requested its withdrawal by the end of June 2018.

And on 10th June, an additional letter was sent to Indian High Commission. This letter acted as a reminder on the order to withdraw the Indian helicopters and their military personnel by the end of June 2018. It also requested the Indian High Commission to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

The Indian high Commission in Maldives replied with their own letter on 25th June 2018. In their letter, the Indian high Commission stated that Indian government would require “more time” to examine the order to withdraw by the Government of Maldives.

It also noted that the Visa for the Indian military personnel in the Maldives would expire on 30th June 2018, and requested their renewal.

The Government of Maldives replied to this with a  letter dated 27th June 2018, reiterating on the order to withdrawal and to provide a schedule of withdrawal.

Sovereignty at stake?

Based on what happened next, it is clear that the Indian High Commission did not withdraw their helicopters nor their military personnel. It is now a verified fact that the Indian military personnel illegally stationed themselves, against the wishes of then government without even a legal visa. However, with the change of administration, their visa’s and the helicopter agreements were promptly renewed.

The current administration and its President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih which has been marked by its close ties to India, acting as its “yes-man” since his election.

It is clear that India does not seem to view the Maldives as a sovereign nation, and is willing to go against the laws and constitutions of the Maldives and international conventions, to impose their people and influence in the Maldives.

This leak comes following weeks of online protest by locals against the growing Indian influence in the Maldives. Many have accused India of meddling with domestic elections and other issues, to increase their influence in the Maldives.  India’s seemingly unilateral decision to establish a consulate in the southernmost city of Addu has further fueled the allegations. The Hanimaadhoo, military planes, radar systems, helicopters, Police academy and military base near the capital has only exacerbated the situation.

This begs us the question, is our independence and sovereignty at stake?. Does the Maldives need to appeal to the International community that India just won’t remove their military personnel from the Maldives? Are we becoming the next Sikkim ?

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