Science and Technology (S&T) Digest 1-15 January 2024, Issue 29
Dr Saroj Bishoyi, Research Fellow, VIF

In this Issue

I. Defence and Security

  1. MoD Signs Contracts Worth Rs 802 Crores for Procurement of Equipment
  2. DRDO Conducts Flight-Test of New Generation AKASH Missile
  3. Launch of 25T Bollard Pull (BP) Tug, Bhishm
  4. GE-HAL Fighter Jet Engine Deal Progressing on Time

II. STI in Space Sector

  1. Aditya-L1 Spacecraft Enters Final Halo Orbit
  2. ISRO Presented with “Indian of the Year Award" for the Year 2023
  3. ISRO Chief Outlines India's Vision for Space Programme
  4. SpaceX Sues US Labor Board Alleging Unlawful Firings

III. Nuclear Technology

  1. Russia’s Offer to India to Develop SMRs
  2. Use of Thorium in Nuclear Reactors
  3. Safety Standards to Non-Water-Cooled Reactors and SMRs
  4. Norway Joins the IAEA’s Programme for Nuclear Verification

IV. Emerging Technologies and Applications

  1. Inaugurates of Islands Submarine Optical Fibre Connection
  2. MeitY Launches ERNET India’s Web Portal
  3. “Startups for Railways" Initiative Gains Momentum
  4. Launch of State-of-art AI supported Telemedicine Mobile Clinic

V. International Cooperation

  1. India-US Cooperation to Achieve Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission
  2. India-Mauritius Space Cooperation
  3. India-UK Defence Industrial Cooperation
  4. Indian Delegation Visits Hawaii, USA to Discuss Progress of TMT
  5. India-Argentina Cooperation in Lithium Exploration & Mining Project

VI. Regional and Global Trends

  1. Biden Admin Provides More Fund to Expand Domestic Chip Production
  2. Foxconn Sets up a New Firm in China to Sharpen Focus on EV Industry
  3. Nvidia Expands its Reach in China's EV Sector
  4. Huawei’s Newest Laptop Runs on a TSMC’s Chip

I. Defence and Security

MoD Signs Contracts Worth Rs 802 Crores for Procurement of Equipment

Ministry of Defence inked two contracts for procurement of Qty-697 Bogie Open Military (BOM) Wagons at a cost of 473 Cr with M/s Jupiter Wagons Limited and procurement of Qty-56 Mechanical Minefield Marking Equipment (MMME) Mark II at a cost of 329 Cr with M/s BEML Ltd, under Buy (Indian-IDDM) category in New Delhi on 4 January 2024. The BOM Wagons and MMME will be produced with equipment and sub-system sourced from indigenous manufacturers, giving a boost to the indigenous manufacturing and participation of the private sector in defence production, realizing the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Click here to read...

DRDO Conducts Flight-Test of New Generation AKASH Missile

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) conducted a successful flight-test of the New Generation AKASH (AKASH-NG) missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur off the coast of Odisha on 12 January 2024. The flight-test was conducted against a high-speed unmanned aerial target at very low altitude. During the flight-test, the target was successfully intercepted by the weapon system and destroyed. The system performance was also validated through the data captured by a number of Radars, Telemetry and Electro Optical Tracking System deployed by ITR, Chandipur. Click here to read...

Launch of 25T Bollard Pull (BP) Tug, Bhishm

25T Bollard Pull (BP) Tug, Bhishm was launched at M/s Titagarh Rail Systems Ltd (M/s TRSL), Kolkata on 14 January 2024. These Tugs are being built under the classification rules of Indian Register of Shipping (IRS). The availability of Tugs will provide impetus to Operational commitments of Indian Navy (IN) by facilitating assistance to Naval ships and submarines during berthing and un-berthing, turning and manoeuvering in confined waters. The Tugs will also provide afloat firefighting assistance to ships alongside, at anchorage and will also have capability to conduct limited Search and Rescue Operations. Click here to read...

GE-HAL Fighter Jet Engine Deal Progressing on Time

GE Aerospace Defence & Systems President Amy Gowder in an interview with Economic Times shared that India's fighter jet engine technologydeal with the US is progressing on time and a detailed technical proposal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will be shared with HALsoon. The timeframe for starting engine production will depend on the requirements of the Indian Air Force and DRDO, but broad plans are to prepare for deliveries within three years. The scope of the technology transfer to HAL will be higher than what GE has done with other partners. Click here to read...

II. STI in Space Sector

Aditya-L1 Spacecraft Enters Final Halo Orbit

Aditya-L1 reaches its final orbit to discover the mysteries of the Sun-Earth connection. The Halo Orbit insertion (HOI) of Aditya L1 was achieved at approximately 4:00 PM on 6 January 2024. The final phase of maneuver involved firing of control engines for a short duration. The orbit of Aditya L1 spacecraft is located roughly 1.5 million Kilometres from earth on a continuously moving Sun – Earth line, with an orbital period of about 177.86 earth days. The specific halo orbit is selected to ensure a mission lifetime of 5 years, minimizing station keeping maneuvers and thus fuel consumption and ensuring a continuous, unobstructed view of the sun. The halo orbit insertion of the spacecraft presented a critical mission phase, which demanded precise navigation and control. Click here to read...

ISRO Presented with “Indian of the Year Award" for the Year 2023

Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh presented “Indian of the Year Award" for the year 2023 in the category ‘Outstanding Achievement’ to Team ISRO. The award recognised the remarkable contribution made by ISRO in pushing the boundaries of Space exploration, read the award citation. In his remarks, Dr Jitendra Singh said that the Chandrayaan-3 was not only indigenous but also a very cost-effective mission, with a budget of about Rs. 600 Crore. Dr Jitendra Singh said, for the first time the whole of nation got involved when Chandrayaan-3 made a historic landing on the lunar South Polar Region. Click here to read...

ISRO Chief Outlines India's Vision for Space Programme

Outlining India's ambitious vision for its space programme, ISRO chief S Somanath said that the country will build a space station by 2035 and an Indian presence on the moon by 2040. The ISRO chief was speaking at the International Space Conference 2024 in Gandhinagar, Gujarat. ISRO is also preparing for the Gaganyaan mission, with a series of tests planned throughout 2024 to ensure readiness for the targeted 2025 launch. Reflecting on the recent successes and the guidance provided by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Somanath said that the Prime Minister has always been a fervent advocate for the space endeavours of India. Click here to read...

SpaceX Sues US Labor Board Alleging Unlawful Firings

SpaceX sued the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming the oversight agency’s structure violates the Constitution. The moves comes after the NLRB filed a complaint against SpaceX earlier, alleging the company unlawfully fired eight employees who drafted and circulated an open letter detailing workplace concerns. The company argues that because only board members and administrative judges can be removed by the president, not all employees, the agency’s structure is unconstitutional. Click here to read...

III. Nuclear Technology

Russia’s Offer to India toDevelop SMRs

The expansion of civilian nuclear cooperation between India and Russia was decided upon during External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s visit to Moscow in December 2023. Moscow is prepared to offer India its technological know-how to develop a compact modular reactor that can generate power in capacities ranging from 75 MW to 300 MW. Russia has made significant advancements in the design of small modular reactors (SMRs). A 50-MW NPP based on the RITM-200 reactor is one of the most intriguing concepts. An SMR of this type is predicted to operate for 60 years using a six-year fuel cycle. Click here to read...

Use of Thorium in Nuclear Reactors

An invention by an American company, set up by a person of Indian origin, Aneel, is making waves in the nuclear establishment of North America. If adopted in India, it can guarantee green energy security for the subcontinent by fast-tracking the use of Thorium in nuclear reactors. India has the world’s largest reserves of Thorium, estimated at 1.07 million tonnes, enough to last over a century. If India uses this Thorium, it can then produce enough green energy and easily turn net-zero by its target date of 2070. However, Thorium is a fertile material and not a fissile material. This means, it must be paired with Uranium-235 or Plutonium-239 to be used as fuel in a reactor. Click here to read...

Safety Standards to Non-Water-Cooled Reactors and SMRs

Over 80 new reactor designs are currently under development around the globe, some of which are expected to be deployed by 2030. The IAEA has completed a project to assess how well the existing IAEA safety standards — the cornerstone of global nuclear safety — apply to the innovative technologies, such as SMRs, which are being introduced. The findings of this wide-ranging exercise are presented in the IAEA Safety Report No. 123 Applicability of safety standards to non-water-cooled reactors and small modular reactors, which identifies gaps and areas for additional consideration covering over 90 safety standards related to the entire life cycle of nuclear power plants. Click here to read...

Norway Joins the IAEA’s Programme for Nuclear Verification

Norway is the latest IAEA Member State to team up with the Agency’s Department of Safeguards by establishing a Member State Support Programme (MSSP). The partnership, formally signed on 27 September 2023, will see Norway working closely with the IAEA to address challenges and opportunities in the field of nuclear safeguards. Nuclear safeguards are technical measures, embedded in bilateral agreements between the IAEA and a State, which are implemented by the IAEA to provide the international community with assurances that nuclear material remains in peaceful use. MSSPs extend support to the IAEA in various forms, including knowledge exchange, technology transfer, expert collaboration and financial support. Click here to read...

IV. Emerging Technologies and Applications

Inaugurates of Islands Submarine Optical Fibre Connection

On 3 January 2024, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kochi-Lakshadweep islands submarine optical fiber connection (KLI-SOFC) project among various developmental projects worth more than Rs 1,150 crore covering a wide range of sectors including technology. The KLI-SOFC project will lead to an increase in internet speed unlocking new possibilities & opportunities. For the first time since independence, Lakshadweep will be connected through SOFC. The dedicated submarine OFC will ensure a paradigm shift in communication infrastructure in the Lakshadweep islands, enabling faster and more reliable internet services, telemedicine, e-governance, etc. Click here to read...

MeitY Launches ERNET India’s Web Portal

On 4 January, Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology (MeitY) launched ERNET India’s newly developed integrated web portal for educational institutes in the country. The portal will offer domain registration, DNS and value-added services viz. Website as a Service (WaaS) and Learning Management as a Service (LMaaS). The users can select from the variety of available templates for schools, colleges, universities as per their requirement and create their own website and Learning Management System. This web portal has been developed utilizing open-source software and emerging technologies such as AI/ML. Click here to read...

“Startups for Railways" Initiative Gains Momentum

Indian Railways has taken an important initiative in the field of innovation through participation of start-ups and other entities. “Startups for Railways" initiative was launched by Ministry of Railways in June 2022. The Objective is to leverage innovative technologies developed by Indian Startups/MSMEs/Innovators/Entrepreneurs to improve operational efficiency and safety on Indian Railways. Ministry of Railways aims to address quality, reliability and maintainability-related issues of the Indian Railways. Under the policy, the Startup/MSME/Innovator/Entrepreneur will have exclusive ownership of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) created in the project. The value of 23 awarded projects is approx. Rs. 43.87 Cr. Click here to read...

Launch of State-of-art AI supported Telemedicine Mobile Clinic

The state-of-the-art, Artificial Intelligence (AI) supported Telemedicine Mobile Clinic "Aarogya-Doctors on Wheels" for remote hilly areas of Ramnagar region in Udhampur district of J&K was launched on 14 January 2024. The latest upgraded Tele Clinic is Artificial Intelligence-driven to provide healthcare facilities in far-flung areas of the region, where such facilities are either not available or inadequately available. Click here to read...

V. International Cooperation

India-US Cooperation to Achieve Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission

The Union Cabinet on 5 January approved the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between India and United States for supporting Indian Railways to achieve Mission Net Zero Carbon Emission by 2030. The MoU provides a platform for Indian Railways to interact and share the latest developments and knowledge in the railway sector. The MoU facilitates utility modernization, advanced energy solutions and systems, regional energy and market integration and private sector participation and engagement, training and seminars/workshops focusing on specific technology areas like Renewable Energy, energy efficiency and other interactions for knowledge sharing. Click here to read...

India-Mauritius Space Cooperation

The Union Cabinet has approved the MoU between Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Mauritius Research and Innovation Council (MRIC) concerning cooperation on the development of a Joint Small Satellite. The MoU will help to establish a framework for cooperation between ISRO and MRIC on the development of a joint satellite as well as for cooperation on the use of the MRIC’s Ground Station. Some of the subsystems for the joint satellite will be taken up through the participation of Indian industries and would benefit the industry. Click here to read...

India-UK Defence Industrial Cooperation

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with UK Defence Minister Mr Grant Shapps in London on 9 January 2024 where the two sides discussed a range of defence, security and cooperation matters with particular emphasis on enhancing defence industrial collaboration. The bilateral defence meeting was followed by the signing of two agreements between India and UK – an MoU on conduct of bilateral international cadet exchange programme, and a Letter of Arrangement between DRDO and UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on defence collaboration in research and development. Click here to read...

Indian Delegation Visits Hawaii, USA to Discuss Progress of TMT

An Indian delegation led by Secretary Department of Science and Technology (DST) Professor Abhay Karandikar visited Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA and discussed challenges in the progress of Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project and ways to overcome them. TMT is a 30-meter diameter primary mirror optical and infrared telescope being established at Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA. India is a Founder-Member Partner in this project which aims to open new windows to the universe through optical and infrared astronomy. The discussions centered on TMT’s present status, particularly regarding Mauna Kea site, start of civil construction, present funding situation, progress made so far towards in-kind deliverables for the project and expected timelines in the present scenario. Click here to read...

India-Argentina Cooperation in Lithium Exploration & Mining Project

On 15 January 2024, India signed Agreement for Lithium Exploration & Mining Project in Argentina. With this Agreement, Khanij Bidesh India Limited (KABIL) has obtained Exploration and Exclusivity Right for 5 blocks to evaluate, prospect and explore and subsequent to existence/discovery of lithium mineral, exploitation right for commercial production. This will not only boost its quest for sourcing lithium for India but will also help in bringing in technical & operational experience for Brine type lithium exploration, exploitation and extraction. Argentina is the part of “Lithium Triangle” along with Chile and Bolivia with more than half of world’s total lithium resources and having the distinction of having 2nd largest lithium resources, 3rd largest lithium reserves and 4th largest production in world. Click here to read...

VI. Regional and Global Trends

Biden Admin Provides More Fund to Expand Domestic Chip Production

The Biden administration announced an agreement to provide $162 million in federal funding to Microchip Technology to expand production of computer chips domestically, the second tranche of money doled out from a bipartisan law signed in 2022. The Commerce Department announced preliminary terms with the Arizona-based manufacturer, which will allow the company to “significantly increase its U.S. production of microcontroller units (MCUs) and other specialty semiconductors built on mature nodes critical to America’s automotive, commercial, industrial, defense, and aerospace industries.” Click here to read...

Foxconn Sets up a New Firm in China to Sharpen Focus on EV Industry

Foxconn Technology Group has set up a new car venture in Zhengzhou city, capital of central China’s Henan province and home to the world’s largest iPhone factory, as the Apple supplier steps up its efforts in the new energy vehicle (NEV) sector amid declining smartphone sales. The new firm, named Foxconn New Energy Automobile Industry Development (Henan) Co, was established on 4 January 2024 with a registered capital of 500 million yuan (US$70 million). Its business covers car component manufacturing and development, motor production and NEV sales, among other areas. Click here to read...

Nvidia Expands its Reach in China's EV Sector

Nvidia said four Chinese electric vehicle brands will use its technology as the brains for automated driving systems, underscoring the U.S. chip maker's determination to expand in China despite Washington's tighter export rules. Chinese automakers Li Auto, Great Wall Motor, Zeekr and the new EV unit of Chinese telecommunications company Xiaomi will use Nvidia's DRIVE technology to power automated driving. China's rising EV brands are a key market for Nvidia's automotive technology business. Click here to read...

Huawei’s Newest Laptop Runs on a TSMC’s Chip

Huawei Technologies’ newest laptop runs on a chip made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) quashing talk of another Chinese technological breakthrough. The Qingyun L540 notebook contains a 5-nanometre chip made by the Taiwanese company in 2020, around the time US sanctions cut off Huawei’s access to the chip maker. That counters speculation that Huawei’s mainland Chinese chip-making partner, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), may have achieved a major leap in fabrication technique. Huawei caused a stir in the US and China in August 2023 when it released a smartphone with a 7-nm processor made by Shanghai-based SMIC. Click here to read...

Contact Us