ISRO Builds India’s Fastest Supercomputer

Indian Space Research Organisation has built a supercomputer, which is to be India’s fastest supercomputer in terms of theoretical peak performance of 220 TeraFLOPS (220 Trillion Floating Point Operations per second). The supercomputing facility named as Satish Dhawan Supercomputing Facility is located at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram. The new Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) based supercomputer named “SAGA-220” (Supercomputer for Aerospace with GPU Architecture-220 TeraFLOPS) is being used by space scientists for solving complex aerospace problems. The supercomputer SAGA-220 was inaugurated by Dr K Radhakrishnan, Chairman, ISRO today at VSSC.

India's fastest Supercomputer - SAGA-220.

 “SAGA-220” Supercomputer is fully designed and built by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre using commercially available hardware, open source software components and in house developments. The system uses 400 NVIDIA Tesla 2070 GPUs and 400 Intel Quad Core Xeon CPUs supplied by WIPRO with a high speed interconnect. With each GPU and CPU providing a performance of 500 GigaFLOPS and 50 GigaFLOPS respectively, the theoretical peak performance of the system amounts to 220 TeraFLOPS. The present GPU system offers significant advantage over the conventional CPU based system in terms of cost, power and space requirements. The total cost of this Supercomputer is about Rs. 14 crores. The system is environmentally green and consumes a power of only 150 kW. This system can also be easily scaled to many PetaFLOPS (1000 TeraFLOPS).

Space Shuttle Discovery lands for final time

The Space Shuttle Discovery successfully landed Wednesday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 11:57 AM EST (16:57 UTC) for what is scheduled to be the final time in its operational career.

Upon landing, the shuttle and its six-person crew wrapped up the STS-133 mission, the Discovery’s 39th and final flight into space. STS-133 launched on February 24, after several launch delays since last November due to numerous technical issues. During the twelve-day mission, the crew transported supplies and parts to the International Space Station (ISS) including Robonaut2, the first dexterous humanoid robot in space, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, and ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4.

During the mission, two spacewalks were performed by astronauts Stephen Bowen and Alvin Drew to install parts and perform maintenance on the exterior of the orbiting laboratory.

The Space Shuttle Discovery landed for the final time Wednesday, wrapping up a twelve-day mission and a 39-mission career. Image: NASA.

Six astronauts and cosmonauts, members of the Expedition 26 crew, remain aboard the ISS to carry out a long-duration mission aboard the outpost.

STS-133 is Discovery’s 39th and final mission into space, the 35th shuttle mission to the ISS, and the 133rd flight in the entire shuttle program. Discovery has docked with two different space stations, Mir and the ISS, and was the first shuttle to fly after both the Challenger and Columbia disasters. Discovery made its maiden flight on STS-41-D in 1984, having since become the most experienced and oldest surviving space shuttle, and delivering payloads to orbit such as the Hubble Space Telescope and becoming the first shuttle to fly a Russian cosmonaut into space.

Discovery, having completed its final flight, has been offered by NASA to the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., to display to the public. The museum, however, is in the process of determining how to obtain the funds necessary to transfer the shuttle. A decision regarding this possibility is expected to be made in April.

A NASA commentator describes Wednesday’s landing as “the end of a historic journey. To a ship that has led the way, time and time again, we bid farewell to Discovery.”

Two remaining shuttle flights are scheduled later this year, STS-134 and STS-135, before the retirement of the space shuttle fleet.


HYLAS Satellite Reaches Geostationary Orbit

HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite), which was launched successfully on November 27, 2010 by the European Ariane-5 V198 launch vehicle, has reached the geostationary orbit.

HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite).

It may be recalled that the HYLAS, the satellite jointly built by ISRO/Antrix and EADS/Astrium of Europe for Avanti communications of U.K. was initially injected into an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) with a perigee of 250 km, apogee of 35,906 km and inclination of 1.99o.

ISROs Master Control Facility at Hassan immediately took over the control and command operations of the satellite. The perigee was raised from 250 km to 35,521 km by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) of 432 Newton thrust level in three phases on Nov 28th (for 1 hour 19 minutes), on Nov 29th (for 30 minutes) and today (for about 4 minutes).

The HYLAS Satellite, presently in an orbit of 35,521 km (perigee) x 35,800 km (apogee) is in good health and in continuous radio-visibility from Hassan. One of its communication antennas has also been deployed successfully.

Antrix/ISRO and EADS Astrium built commercial communication satellite launched successfully

An advanced communication satellite HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite) built by ISRO on a commercial basis in partnership with EADS-Astrium of Europe, was successfully launched today, November 27, 2010 by the European Ariane-5 V198 launch vehicle. The launch took place from the Guyana Space Centre at Kourou in French Guyana.

35 minutes after its lift-off, HYLAS separated from Ariane-5 launch vehicle after reaching its intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). ISRO’s Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka successfully received radio signals transmitted by HYLAS and the satellite’s health is normal.

HYLAS (Highly Adaptable Satellite)

HYLAS satellite developed for Avanti Communications, UK consists of ten high power transponders that use eight in Ka and two in Ku band frequencies. The satellite is designed to deliver high-speed broadband services through its spot beams over Europe. The satellite is expected to be operated from 33.5 deg. W longitude for European coverage.

The contract for building of satellite was won in the year 2006 after competing along other leading manufacturers of USA and Europe through the strategic alliance worked out between Antrix/ISRO and M/s. EADS Astrium of France. The alliance was formed to jointly develop communication satellites with ISRO platforms and Astrium payloads and market them internationally.

The satellite can automatically allocate bandwidth to different regions

Astrium had the responsibility for overall program management and delivery of the communications payload and Antrix/ISRO provided the satellite bus and also performed the satellite integration and testing at ISRO’s facility in Bangalore. HYLAS satellite weighing 2541 kg at lift-off is the heaviest satellite built by ISRO for I-2K bus capable of operating for over 15 years mission life as demanded by the customer. The satellite’s solar panels generate a maximum of about 3200 Watts of power.

Antrix/ISRO is also responsible for the post launch operations of HYLAS, which are being conducted from the Master Control Facility, Hassan. The operations include firing of the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in three phases to place the satellite in geostationary orbit. The first firing of LAM is scheduled for the early hours of November 28, 2010.

CARTOSAT-2B Sending High Quality Imagery

The CARTOSAT-2B satellite, which was successfully launched by PSLV-C15 on July 12, 2010, into a polar sun-synchronous orbit, is working satisfactorily. The initial phase of operations of the satellite has been successfully completed. The camera has been switched on, and images of high quality are being received.

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