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10 Facts About Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket

Ramya GovindRaj

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Real life Iron Man, Elon Musk has been featured a lot in the news recently for launching one of the world’s most powerful rockets, Falcon Heavy. SpaceX’ latest rocket blasted off its first test flight carrying a red Tesla roadster along with it. If you have not been able to follow the news or the launch of this iconic rocket, here are 10 facts to bring you up to speed. 

1. On February 6, 2018, SpaceX launched it’s Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, into an orbit that stretches into the asteroid belt.

2. Elon Musk was not sure if the launch would be a success. The launch of the rocket was delayed by three hours citing high winds.

3. After a successful launch, two of Falcon’s rocket cores successfully touched down back on Earth after takeoff. However, the middle core of SpaceX’s huge rocket missed the drone ship where it was supposed to land. Relighting one of the three engines necessary to land, the center core landed in the Atlantic Ocean.

A graphic showing the path of the Falcon Heavy rocket

4. Falcon Heavy is considered to be the most powerful rocket ever created, since the Shuttle System and second only to the Saturn V rockets, which carried men to the moon during the Apollo era.

5. The Tesla Roadster has the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers. The $100,000 car will cruise through high energy radiation belts, Van Allen belts, that circuit Earth towards deep space.

6. The Tesla cruised through space for a good six hours which was also live streamed by SpaceX. The car was then pushed out towards its elliptical orbit around Mars, once the upper stage’s systems survived being bombarded with all the radiation, firing and pushing the car forward for one last time.

7. Experts along with Elon Musk are still unclear about what will happen to the car. Planetary scientists have been asking about the details regarding the car’s exact orbit to calculate the Tesla’s odds of collision and how long it will actually last in deep space.

8. The successful launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket along with its capabilities of putting objects into deep space and landing back on Earth demonstrates the possibility of creating low production cost rockets and ability to reuse them in the future.

9. The success of this launch makes it easier for governments and businesses to lift massive projects into space or set off deep space missions, marking a major step toward cheaper, more frequent spaceflight programs.

10. Falcon Heavy’s capabilities of putting objects into deep space also opens up avenues for space companies, like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries to send their spacecrafts into the asteroid belt. Currently, both the space companies are working on technologies to mine water from asteroids in the near future. 

Watch the Elon Musk’s dummy astronaut orbiting Earth in a Tesla in this time lapse video.

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Virgin Hyperloop To Transform Indian Transportation System!

Smruthi Kishore

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Sir Richard Branson led transportation startup Virgin Hyperloop, has signed a framework agreement with the Maharashtra Government to build a Hyperloop transport system between Mumbai and Pune. The high speed travel system will reduce the travel time between the two cities to 25 minutes from the current travel time of 3 hours.
The installation of this system, combined with an operational demonstration track would make India the first country to host a hyperloop system. India may also debut the high speed transport system before Middle East, Northern Europe or even the United States of America. However, it may take at least another 3 years to complete the test run and 6 more years to start commercial operations.
During the Magnetic Maharashtra event, Virgin Group Founder and Virgin Hyperloop One chairman, Sir Richard Branson announced the framework agreement in the presence of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis. At present, Virgin Hyperloop has the capacity to travel up to 1,000 km per hour. However, according to reports, the current Hyperloop system is expected to function at 350 km per hour.
The route is likely to come up in parallel to the Mumbai Pune Expressway and will be built without any resettlement of residential areas. The project will begin after six months of assessment on the feasibility and durability. This initial period of six months will define details like route alignment, environmental impact and commercial viability of the project. Only after the initial study will the work on the construction of the Hyperloop begin.
The demonstration track will be constructed in two to three years and serve as a platform for testing, certifying, and regulating the system for commercial operations. The second phase will target to complete construction of the full Pune Mumbai route by 2025. With easier access to airport roads, the Hyperloop will be able to ferry across 150 million passengers. The result of this Hyperloop is to ensure the creation of a connection between nearly 72 million people across Maharashtra, Pune and Karnataka.

“The proposed Hyperloop transportation system will transform the transportation system and make Maharashtra a global pioneer in the space. The socioeconomic benefits of the project is $55 billion (Rs. 3,54,750 crore),” Branson said, claiming that the project will create thousands of jobs.

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Amazon Pilots Food Retail Venture In Pune

Ramya GovindRaj

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Amazon becomes the first foreign firm to start a food retail venture Amazon Retail Pvt., Ltd., in India. Amazon Retail will start with its pilot services in Pune. The development comes at a time when the global retail giant Walmart is in plans to acquire a 40% stake in homegrown ecommerce giant Flipkart.

With this venture, Amazon India can stock and sell food items including sell locally made and packaged food directly to consumers. The Economic Times reported a person close to the development said, “Amazon is now a vendor on Amazon.in and is currently operating in Pune.” However, according to another source, it will take another quarter for the ecommerce major to roll out the food retailing business nationwide.

Amazon received the government’s approval to invest $ 500 million in Indian food retail industry in July last year. At present, Amazon is the only international company to have applied for the food only retailing business with 100% overseas investment. As mandated by the Indian government, Amazon will be keeping this venture separate from its online marketplace. This includes maintaining separate management and offices for the venture as the ecommerce firm does not have the permission to sell products directly to consumers. Without giving any details, an Amazon India spokesperson confirmed the news saying, “We continue to be on track to launch our food retail business in India.

Other foreign funded retail outlets such as BigBasket, Grofers and Supr Daily have also received similar approvals from the government for food retailing. India’s food retailing sector seems to be the next big milestone in the ecommerce industry. Recently, China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba invested close to $300 million in BigBasket, while Walmart is also looking to buy a substantial stake in Flipkart. Till date, Amazon has invested $ 4.74 billion in India, almost reaching Jeff Bezos commitment to invest $ 5 billion in the country.

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Will WhatsApp PayMent Change The Payment Industry In India?

Smruthi Kishore

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After months of anticipation, WhatsApp, the online messaging service, officially has the payments app as a part of its features. The online messaging system rolled out this feature only to select users across the country and within the short time of its introduction, it has become one of the most popular features of this app.

However, this induction almost did not happen because of the company’s foreign origin. In fact, this was WhatsApp’s second attempt on this front. Last year, this messaging service had tried to partner with a private bank in the country to develop a digital wallet app to facilitate payments on its platform.

All was fine till the bank and WhatsApp went to the Reserve Bank of India. Multiple stakeholders of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) was not ready to allow a foreign entity to enter India’s digital payments space. According to RBI guidelines, “Non bank entities applying for authorisation shall be a company incorporated in India and registered under the Companies Act 1956 / Companies Act 2013.”

WhatsApp is a Facebook owned company and Facebook is based in the United States. Ergo, this means this company could not directly enter the Indian online payments wallet. This was last year. What changed from then to now is the fact that Government actively started promoting the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) as part of its push to digitise India’s economy.

UPI allows for real time bank to bank transactions and once WhatsApp was sure this move was finalized, they jumped on the bandwagon. Facebook messenger service has had a decent run with the payments system and based on Facebook’s track record, the company decided to integrate this feature into WhatsApp as well. However, while this move came as a positive change for the messaging service, it brings to mind one important question.

Is this going to change the online payments game for banks and other companies? Is this service coming on board as a threat or as a new turn in the history of online payments? Consumer payments is a low margin game and is entirely defined by the scale of operations. On this front, WhatsApp has the potential to become a dominant game changer because of its base of 250 billion users all over the country.

Despite all its advantages, WhatsApp has one thing going against it. A little while after becoming live, the messaging service ran into a series of problems especially with Paytm raising a huge hue and cry about the safety of WhatsApp online payments. One bank which jumped on board with WhatsApp’s online payment feature is ICICI bank. India’s largest private sector bank was the first to team up with WhatsApp on this feature and it looks like the other banks are just minutes away.

With banks coming on board with WhatsApp’s new feature, it is interesting to see how two separate forces from different areas are coming together to create history for the first time. Clearly the times are changing and this move seems to be just one of those steps for an interesting future ahead.

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