a) In a new orbit

The Indian Space Research Organisation has crossed a significant milestone with the successful developmental light of the country’s heaviest Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, the GSLV Mark-III. This is the first time a satellite weighing over 3.1 tonnes has been launched from India to reach the geostationary orbit about 36,000 km from Earth. The Mk-III can launch satellites weighing up to four tonnes, which almost doubles India’s current launch capacity. With communication satellites becoming heavier (up to six tonnes), the capability for larger payloads is vital. This can be done by switching over to electric propulsion for orbit rising and to keep the satellite in the right position and orientation in the orbit through its lifetime (that is, station keeping). The switch-over would reduce the weight of the vehicle as it can do away with nearly two tonnes of propellants and carry heavier satellites. Towards this end, ISRO has started testing electric propulsion in a small way; the South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9) that was launched last month used electric propulsion for station keeping. On Monday, an indigenously developed lithium-ion battery was used for the first time to power the satellite. Another key achievement is the use of an indigenously developed cryogenic stage, which uses liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen; the 2010 GSLV launch using an indigenous cryogenic stage ended in failure. It can now be said without hesitation that India belongs to the elite club of countries that have mastered cryogenic technology. In the December 2014 experimental light of the GSLV Mk-III, a passive cryogenic stage was used. Though the cryogenic stage was not meant to be ignited, the launch provided invaluable data on aerodynamic behaviour of the vehicle. The Mark-III will be operational with the success of one more developmental light, which is set to take place within a year. This will make India self-reliant in launching heavier satellites, bringing down costs substantially. Till now, heavier communication satellites have been launched on Europe’s Ariane rockets; in fact, ISRO will soon be using Ariane rockets to launch two of its heavier satellites. But as has been the case with lighter satellites, it is likely that other countries will soon turn to ISRO for the launch of heavier satellites at a lower cost. With fewer propulsion stages and, therefore, control systems, the Mk-III is far more reliable than the GSLV and the PSLV. Combined with its ability to carry eight to 10 tonnes into a low Earth orbit, the Mk-III can be considered for human-rating certification (to transport humans) once some design changes are made. Compared with the two-member crew capacity of the GSLV, the Mk-III can carry three astronauts and have more space to carry out experiments. The next developmental light, therefore, will be crucial.

b) Theresa may not?

Under the looming shadow of exit negotiations with the European Union, British Prime Minister Theresa May had good reason to call a snap general election on June 8. By putting her faith in the hands of the voters, she sought a strong, unequivocal mandate to take the fight to Brussels. In April, opinion polls suggested that she might even match the majorities of former Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair, of 144 in 1983 and 179 in 1997, respectively, in the 650-seat House of Commons. Yet that dream appears to be crumbling as the race has gradually tightened, with multiple terror incidents, including the Manchester bombing and the London Bridge attack, further muddying her prospects. The initial 20-plus points lead held by the Tories when the election was announced in April has withered into a mere five points, according to an Ipsos MORI poll. A YouGov poll, an outlier, projected the Tories losing 20 seats — Ms. May’s outgoing government enjoyed a 17-seat working majority. Other models, however, show her winning a sizeable majority, in some cases by as much as 142 seats. These variations in poll projections must, however, be considered alongside the recent setbacks endured by the U.K. polling industry, which in some measure failed to read the tea leaves correctly for the 2015 general election and the 2016 Brexit referendum. Nonetheless, the state of national politics may offer the Conservative leadership fewer reasons to feel sanguine. Prime Minister May miscalculated in framing the race as a presidential-style contest against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. This not only opened the window of opportunity to him to stage a comeback, but also brought a host of domestic policy issues on to the table for voters to dissect and criticise. Indeed, according to some polls Mr. Corbyn is only a few points shy of Ms. May’s net favourability rating, and has gained even more traction by critiquing her government’s cut of 20,000 police officers at a time when the U.K. has been vulnerable to the sort of terror attacks witnessed in recent weeks. Similarly, Ms. May’s campaign has taken a beating from the awkward backtrack on what has been dubbed the “dementia tax”, a proposal whereby care for an elderly person would be paid for by the sale of his or her house after death, depriving the heirs. Other austerity policies proposed by Conservatives, including a controversial plan to end universal free school lunches for children, have sent the jitters among some sections of voters. The lesson from this pre-election turbulence in support for the Tories is that even if they succeed in retaining or increasing their parliamentary majority, it would be unwise to take their opposition for granted, or be overly optimistic in assuming that the European Union would soften its negotiating stance owing to the internal politics of the U.K.


1) Geosynchronous

Meaning: Being or having an orbit around the earth with a period equal to one sidereal day; specifically.

2) Payloads

Meaning: Equipment, personnel, or satellites carried by a spacecraft.

Example: The truck is carrying a payload of 2,580 pounds.

Synonyms: Burden, Cargo, Load

3) Propulsion

Meaning: The action of driving or pushing forwards.

Example: They dive and use their wings for propulsion under water.

Synonyms: Motive force, Push, Impulse

4) Orientation

Meaning: The action of orienting someone or something relative to the points of a compass or other specified positions / A person’s basic attitude, beliefs, or feelings in relation to a particular subject or issue.

Example: Using the orientation of a building to capture energy from the sun.

Synonyms: Location, Position / Inclination, Direction

5) Propellants

Meaning: a substance that propels something, in particular: i) an explosive that fires bullets from a firearm. ii) an inert fluid, liquefied under pressure, in which the active contents of an aerosol are dispersed.

Example: The main uses of CFCs are in aerosols as propellants.

6) Indigenously

Meaning: Produced, living, or existing naturally in a particular region or environment.

Example: There are several indigenous groups that still live in the area.

Synonyms: Aboriginal, Domestic, Native

Antonyms: Non native

7) Cryogenic

Meaning: Relating to or involving the branch of physics that deals with the production and effects of very low temperatures / relating to the deep-freezing of the bodies of people who have just died, in the hope that scientific advances may allow them to be revived in the future.

Example: i) A powerful cryogenic engine.

ii) A body being prepared for cryogenic preservation.

8) Elite

Meaning: A select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.

Example: The elite of Britain’s armed forces.

Synonyms: Best, Pick

Antonyms: Dregs

9) Looming

Meaning: (Of an event regarded as threatening) seem about to happen.

Example: There is a crisis looming.

Synonyms: Impend, Threaten, Menace

Antonyms: Disappear, Dwindle

10) Snap

Meaning: Break suddenly and completely, typically with a sharp cracking sound.

Example: Guitar strings kept snapping.

Synonyms: Split, Fracture

Antonyms: Hold

11) Unequivocal

Meaning: Leaving no doubt; unambiguous.

Example: An unequivocal answer.

Synonyms: Unambiguous, Unmistakable

Antonyms: Equivocal, Ambiguous, Vague

12) Manchester

Meaning: Household linen.

Example: I know nothing, but it could be that the marketing team behind the brochure for manchester from Casuarina would welcome some new ideas.

13) Tories

Meaning: (In the UK) a member or supporter of the Conservative Party.

Example: A poll showed the Tories thirteen points behind Labour.

14) Referendum

Meaning: A general vote by the electorate on a single political question which has been referred to them for a direct decision.

Example: He called for a referendum on the death penalty.

Synonyms: Public vote, Popular vote, Ballot

15) Nonetheless

Meaning: In spite of that; nevertheless.

Example: The rally, which the government had declared illegal, was nonetheless attended by some 6,000.

16) Sanguine

Meaning: Optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.

Example: He is sanguine about prospects for the global economy.

Synonyms: Optimistic, Hopeful

Antonyms: Pessimistic, Gloomy

17) Dissect

Meaning: Analyse (a text or idea) in minute detail.

Example: He dissected the Prime Minister’s statement and revealed the truth behind it.

Synonyms: Analyse, Examine, Study

18) Critiquing

Meaning: Evaluate (a theory or practice) in a detailed and analytical way.

Example: The authors critique the methods and practices used in the research.

Synonyms: Notice, Review

19) Backtrack

Meaning: Reverse one’s previous position or opinion / retrace one’s steps.

Example: i) Marilyn backtracked and went down into the basement.

ii) The unions have had to backtrack on their demands.

20) Dementia

Meaning: A mental illness that causes someone to be unable to think clearly or to understand what is real and what is not real.

Example: A new study on age-related dementias.

Synonyms: Mental illness, Madness

21) Depriving

Meaning: Prevent (a person or place) from having or using something.

Example: The city was deprived of its water supplies

Synonyms: Dispossess, Strip

22) Heirs

Meaning: A person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person’s death.

Example: His eldest son and heir.

Synonyms: Successor, Descendant

Antonyms: Predecessor

23) Austerity

Meaning: Sternness or severity of manner or attitude.

Example: He was noted for his austerity and his authoritarianism.

24) Jitters

Meaning: Act nervously / (of a signal or device) suffer from jitter.

Example: An anxious student who jittered at any provocation.

25) Turbulence

Meaning: A state of conflict or confusion.

Example: Political turbulence.

Synonyms: Turmoil, Instability

Antonyms: Peace, Calmness

26) Stance

Meaning: The way in which someone stands, especially when deliberately adopted (as in cricket, golf, and other sports); a person’s posture.

Example: She altered her stance, resting all her weight on one leg.

Synonyms: Posture, Pose, Attitude