1.ISRO developing a compact launcher for small satellites
• A low-cost small satellite launcher could be the next item on the menu of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
• And the launcher should be able to put satellites of up to 500-600 kg in orbits close to the Earth.
• VSSC has designed the vehicle using the rocket technology that it already has and is awaiting ISRO’s approval. The development cost would be kept low at a few crore as the new launcher’s requirement of advanced electronics is considerably lower.
• It could also tremendously cut the launch fee that customers would have to pay. Which is what all space agencies aim at: low-cost access to space, as they call it.
• Since 1999, ISRO’s PSLV rockets have launched 209 small satellites from 28 countries for a fee; they have been for experimental, university or remote-sensing uses.
• In February this year, a PSLV carried a record 104 satellites to space. The next one planned in January 2018 will carry some 30 small customer satellites to space — their weights ranging from 1 kg to 100 kg.
2. Saudi Arabia lifts 35-year-long ban on cinemas; first movie theatres to open in March 2018
• Saudi Arabia lifted a decades-long ban on cinemas, part of a series of social reforms by the powerful crown prince that are shaking up the ultra-conservative kingdom.
• The government would begin licensing cinemas immediately and the first movie theatres are expected to open next March, in a decision that could boost the kingdom’s nascent film industry.
• Reviving cinemas would represent a paradigm shift in the kingdom, which is promoting entertainment as part of a sweeping reform plan for a post-oil era, despite opposition from hardliners who have long vilified movie theatres as vulgar and sinful.