GSLV-F06 Launch on Dec 25, 2010

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 24, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

On Christmas Day, India will launch its GSLV-F06 with GSAT-5P satellite on board. Since December 20, 2010 when the delay in the launch was announced, ISRO has been working with Russian engineers by conducting several tests on the leaked valve in the Russian cryogenic engine.

It has now been ascertained that the launch could go on. It is still not sure if the leak was fixed or whether it was found whether the leak was within acceptable limits.  ISRO has just posted a note on its website saying the launch has started.

There have been several mis-leading reports in Western blogs stating that this is the Indian cryogenic engine. This is wrong. This is one of the two spare engines that ISRO obtained from Russia.

The 2310 kg GSAT-5P is the heaviest satellite that an Indian launch vehicle will carry. Hence the cryogenic engine has been uprated. It now carries 15.3 tonnes of fuel as against 12.5 tonnes and has a payload fairing diameter of 4 metres instead of 2.8 metres. This uprating enables the GSLV Mk-I to carry 2310 kg instead of the 1900 kg capability. GSAT-5P itself is to replace INSAT-2E’s services and upgrade television, tele-medicene, tele-education and telephony services.

Chandrayaan-II Recent Updates

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 22, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Over November and December, Anatoly Zak’s website RussianSpaceWeb has been updating information about Luna-Resurs. Luna-Resurs is the Russian name given to Chandrayaan-II.

As per a December 8, 2010 report on RussianSpaceWeb (which has translation from the NPO Lavochkin website) states that the team has defended improvements in Luna-Resurs mission. They seem to have finalised the payloads, the navigation and ballistic issues. It seems these improvements have been approved.

Another is on the selection of two landing sites for Chandrayaan-II. The report is based on a paper by E N Salyuta and others presented at the 41st Lunar and Planetary Conference  in March 2010! The selection was aided by results from American and Japanese spacecrafts – Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) and Kaguya. The page provides background on the 2 sites selected from the 14 original based on criteria such as landing safety, scientific interest, constant line of communication  etc. The main landing site is near the Shoemaker and Faustini craters located at 87.2 degrees South and 68 degrees East lunar co-ordinates. The backup landing site is near the de Gerlach crater located 88.5 degrees South and 297 degrees East lunar co-ordinates.

The above work seems to be purely Russian. I am not sure if ISRO has yet been consulted on the project but the lander being a Russian component, the landing may also be of their choosing. The reference to the Indian rover as only a political payload was unnecessary. They said that about MIP on Chandrayaan-I in 2007, if I recollect. Maybe its for good luck.

GSLV-F06 Launch Postponed

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 20, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I only got around to writing this now after a day of BlogCamp:

The launch of GSLV-F06 with  GSAT-5P Satellite onboard, scheduled for December 20, 2010 has been postponed due to a minor leak in one of the valves of the Russian Cryogenic stage, observed during the pre-countdown checks.
The 29-hours countdown sequence planned to commence at 1100 hrs today (Dec 19th ) has not been authorized by the Launch Authorisation Board that met this forenoon to review the results of pre-countdown checks.
The revised schedule for launch will be firmed up after ascertaining the cause for the leak, remedial actions and due verifications.
Well, hope they get to fix the problem as soon as they can. Checks  are carried out before the launch to ensure that all systems work perfectly. Minor defects are not tolerated since its failure can lead to the failure of the whole system. Will keep you posted on the developments of this GSLV flight.

Blogcamp Mumbai at Mood-I 2010

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 20, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I attended my second blogcamp today. Both have been in the School of Management building in the IIT-B campus. I reached here super-early and so managed to catch up on some of my reading (Ruskin Bond’s The Book of Nature). There seemed to be a strong creative vibe in the camp – especially with speakers on reviewing movies, doodling and fiction or with people who meddled in them. Hence, overall I enjoyed the whole experience.

The morning began with a session by Meeta Kabra, who wrote movie reviews on Wogma.com. Meeta began with sympathizing with today’s creators for receiving one word reactions for their work. She said reviewers must take the effort to provide constructive criticism of the work so that there is a possibility for the creators to learn and improve. The audience thought that maybe not everyone would understand the nuisances of cinema (Meeta reviews films) to provide such criticism and hence the restricted reactions. Meeta then asked for advice on how to handle abusive commenters. The general consensus seems to be that these be not posted at all. Some schools of thought believed that these comments may not be removed but should not be answered. Certain comment moderation was encouraged through various tools by the attendees.

The second session of the morning was done by Harpreet Singh on sketching experiences. He blogs at sketchingexperiences.me. He started off with his aim to get at least 5 members of the audience into sketching by the end of his talk. He was of the opinion that diagrams and drawings were catching the eye of people in this era of information overload. These were simple and easy to understand in a single glimpse as against reading pages of text on some topic. I am not overtly enthusiastic of diagrams but do believe that it has its usefulness.

The next session of the day was by John P. Matthew who writes a personal blog. From an end of the day perspective, John’s session seemed to be presenting ideas that didn’t seem to sit well with the audience. He began by speaking about Google PageRanks and blog monetization to an extent. He then spoke of his experience of using the blog for activism and having used his blog to make money and also make good friends. His school of thought urged people to take blogging as a serious activity and blog at a daily pace. This pushed some of the members of the audience to ask the question of quality suffering because of quantity. The result seem to be mixed with people calling for differing rates of blog posts. I, personally do not set any particular target for the number of blog posts per day. That’s just too much discipline for me.

The next session by Tarun Chandel, now a photoblogger, seemed to contrast well with John’s session before. His talk basically asked the blogger to begin the blog for a purpose. He stressed that by “walking that extra mile” while writing a blog post or posting a picture or the cartoon/diagram makes a difference. He believes that having a good workflow, a well thought out structure works better for the blogger. He says these are worth the time and the effort because one adds his name to the blog post. Commenting on the trend of multiple platforms available for content, he suggested their wise use.

I particularly enjoyed Tarun’s talk because it seemed like a return to the roots in this time of confusion in the world of media today. I was also meeting Tarun for the first time after the last blogcamp, which is when I last met him.

The next session, post a small drinks break was by Srinivas, a travel blogger on #SrinionTour. Srinivas has the idea of going around South India on a shoestring budget of Indian Rupee ₹10,000. He hopes to visit 19 locations in 15 days. He hopes to create a buzz around his trip by using social media. I am guessing it is do-able and connectivity is improving in South India. Srinivas’ trip would be the real test, of course. I have started following him both on twitter and on his blog.

Sonesh Prakash spoke next on his comic strip. Oddly enough he used Facebook Notes for the same. This is odd to me because I differentiate between a blog and a social network. He is the creator of the comic strip that has two characters – SoBo chick and Suburban guy and uses them to generate a comic strip to comment on various issues. He demoed two tools – StripCreator and Pixton. Interestingly, he then moved on to his trips to Sikkim and Kerala and shared pics from there. He came across as a very curious person to me, in a rather good way.

The next session was by Aniket who blogs at flashfiction.in. He began by talking of how he began a multiple author website on writing fiction, short stories and poetry. He clarified for me the idea behind syllables in poetry. He further spoke about how he started his multiple author website and some of the friendships he has made through blogging. He seems to be talented with his voice as well as he was asked to introduce in multiple voices!

The next session was by Sampath Iyengar who is a corporate blogger. His session was built on a series of questions to the blogging community. The answers he received urged him to separate the corporate and personal identity blogs. He was urged to use plugins to pull content from blog to Facebook. Tarun, answering his question expanded on his comment on wise use of platforms. He suggested that social websites like Facebook are liable to change as was the case with Orkut and there was also an unclear copyright protection problem while using such platforms. Whereas, on your hosted server, the content remained with you, by and large.

Harish Iyer spoke next on using blogging to encourage activism. He worked primarily in the area of raising awareness about sexuality and child sex abuse, having been subjected to the same himself. He is openly gay and has spoken about these issues in open fora. He states that his humorous attitude towards this has helped him handle society’s reactions to his sexual preference while also being able to talk about such a taboo subject. He also allows Chandini the use of his blog to connect people with the resources with the people in need. I am a little bit confused since she also seems to have her own posterous for this.  She also spams (forwards emails but she uses spam as  a smaller word for this) people to get this done.

Manoj was the last speaker of the day. He spoke of how he got into blogging after being bored by the assignments offered by media houses. He also talked about his experience of going around the country during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections raising awareness about social causes and the various NGOs working for them. His latest effort is called Canary Trap, where he hopes to provide access to documents which are only stated in the media but one never gets to see in print.

After lunch, Moksh Juneja opened the floor for discussion on the monetization of blogs and some of the “ethical” practices that could be used for such monetization. The question was whether or not to provide a realistic review of a product/book/anything if paid. The consensus seems to be to ask upfront the type of request the company providing such an offer is making. Some members of the audience also thought a disclaimer would help decision making. Moksh managed to put me in a delicate spot by asking why it was so difficult to get a Wikipedian to create content for money. To me, it seemed odd that people would pay money to people when they could edit it themselves and also the fact that Wikipedia patrol would quite easily catch such instances. All I could manage was something on Wikipedia edit principles and to answer “no” when he asked whether I would edit an article if provided with all resources required to make a Wikipedia article (note: this would not make it a good Wikipedia article). The conversation then veered towards the blurring lines between journalism and blogging. Members of the audience shared pointers on how to select content in an era of perceived mis-trust in main stream media.

I was not able to live-tweet the event after a point because of both lazy battery charge and poor network availability. My thank you to the organizers for putting up a great event!

What happened to STUDSAT-1?

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 19, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I had met with the team of STUDSAT-1, India’s second student satellite last September. Here, they had spoken of an attempt to get back control of their student satellite, STUDSAT-1. Last week, the NanoSail-D mission reminded Daniel Fischer about STUDSAT-1 and asked me about the satellite. I sent an email to Prithviraj and Chetan. Prithviraj has emailed yesterday to inform me that the satellite is dead. In his own words:

We had planned to collaborate with ISTRAC to upcommand to StudSat-1 when the cone of window again comes over Bangalore. But then before the satellite also stopped sending the beacon signal and so the satellite died.

The students will now send a close-up report to ISRO. ISRO has told students that the mission will be considered a partial success and they are awaiting a written reply from ISRO. On the future they had this to say on STUDSAT-2:

We have started working on StudSat-2. The initial collaboration between the colleges is done and we have recruited lots of students from the 6 colleges. The concept design of the two satellites is almost frozen. Once its finalized the MoU with ISRO will be done.

Wishing the students best of luck for the STUDSAT-2 project.

Western India Science Fair 2010

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 16, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

The better part of today morning and early afternoon was spent at the Nehru Science Centre, Worli attending the Western India Science Fair. Now, in its 23rd edition, the fair has been conducted every year in Mumbai. This is one of the few opportunities that students do get to show off their talent in hands-on projects. As for the student projects, I saw that students have picked up on themes relevant to today – anti-terrorism, renewable energy, waste management and agriculture.

The guests did walk into the hall a full 40 minutes late. The inauguration began with an opening by Anil Manekar. He spoke about the Fair being a great platform for students to showcase their creativity and also learn the important task of science communication, by communicating their theoretical and practical understanding of science to the visiting members of the public. This, he stressed was vital and was the need of the hour.

We then learnt that the 2009 edition of the fair saw 120 thousand visitors to the Fair.

The Chief Guest of the evening [thanks to Srinivas for correcting me] was Dr. H C Pradhan of the Homi Bhaba Centre for Science Education. I have made his acquaintance as a higher secondary student when I wrote the Physics Olympiad. I visited his offices (he was Assistant Director then) on the recommendation of my late Professor Prasad Iyer (in Mathematics) of Atomic Energy Junior College. He was really helpful at that time and he is still as humble and soft spoken today. He shared with students who he said were “really good with their hands” avenues such as the Olympiads and the Intel Fair. For the teachers in the audience, he also went into some detail on teaching and its modern forms. He said that project based learning was now believed to be better than Teacher based learning. He said that learning and hence the student had become more important than teaching and hence the teacher’s job was now to provide more opportunities to the student for learning. He told them that the next step is likely to be peer-to-peer learning. He urged the participants to go home and share their experiences with fellow students in their schools and in their neighborhoods.

Of all the student projects that I witnessed, I enjoyed one on rain water harvesting, one on testing water for fecal contamination using a Rs. 24 Hydrogen Sulphide strip, one on aqua robotic reconnaissance system (based partly on 26/11 terrorist strikes), one on Maglev trains (the fascinating thing about this was that they used their Nokia mobile phone battery to power the model 🙂 ), one on robotic excavation system (based on recent news of the Chile miners), an elaborate satellite-assisted coastal monitoring system (based on 26/11 terrorist strike), a system for converting plastic waste to useful substances like wax, fuel etc.

There was even a section for educators on some of the interesting ways they taught to science to students. Didn’t spend much time here as I was hungry :).

GSLV-F06 launching the GSAT-5P on December 20

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 16, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I had earlier written about the possible launch date of GSAT-5P as being December 20. This is now confirmed. Yesterday, ISRO posted photos and descriptions [PDF] about the GSLV-F06 and the GSAT-5P.

A little bit on the satellite. Unlike the satellite it is replacing, the GSAT-5P is a pure communications satellite. It does not have the meteorological payload that INSAT-2E had. The 2310 kg satellite will be placed in a geosynchronous transfer orbit by the GSLV-F06. The satellite with its C-band transponders will provide continuity of telecommunication services.

The importance of this launch is not because of its payload but rather because of its launch vehicle. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is a completely new launch vehicle unlike the PSLV, which has now been tried and tested over the years. It is tasked with launching 2-4 tonne class satellites that the PSLV is not designed to handle. The problems facing the programme have been faced by other rockets in its class and are not un-precedented. However, it has been worrying ISRO because it has impacted ISRO’s strive for self-reliant systems. The delay will cause India to fall back on support on Astrium’s Ariane launch vehicles.

For the technical personnel, such times are uncomfortable. Questions are raised on the personnel’s capability by the management and it is a difficult time for all concerned. However, this is how people learn in rocketry and science. In a recent interview, I was informed that the way the Sriharikota spaceport works right now it is capable of doing only 3-4 launches per year. ISRO has been working to improve this launch rate with its Chairman making the claim in early 2010 that they hoped to do 10launches this year. The same claims have been carried forward to 2011. I wonder if this has impacted ISRO’s ability to test the rocket without a payload or with dummy payloads like SpaceX did. I had raised this question earlier as well when ISRO’s GSLV with indigenous cryogenic engine failed and fell into the Bay with its payload.

GSLV is a machine with contributions from many people each one providing critical components. The failure of even one component amongst the bunch can lead to the catastrophic results. Before this launch, I have depressed myself a little. I hope and pray for the team of GSLV-F06. Godspeed!

GSAT-5P to be launched on December 20

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 13, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

On December 20, 2010, India will replace the ageing INSAT-2E communications satellite. The satellite has served India since 1999 by providing telecommunication, television broadcasting and meteorological services.

The launch of GSAT-5P which is to take place from Sriharikota will use the Russian cryogenic engine for the third stage of the GSLV. Hence, this is designated as the GSLV Mk-I. The vehicle is already on the launch pad and was moved there and anchored on Sunday. Last week, the satellite, GSAT-5P was placed inside the heat shield.

The significant events before launch between 4 and 4:30 pm 5:30 pm on December 20, include a full systems check today, followed by a launch rehersal without the liquid and cryogenic fuel on December 17.

There has only been one successful PSLV and one failed GSLV that has taken place this year in Sriharikota this year. I am guessing scientists will be anxious to get this launch right. This is another reason why the spotlight is falling back on this launch. The GSLV has been a programme with mixed results with 3 successes and 3 failures.

Once ISRO updates its website with more information I will carry more detailed article on the subject here.

[This post is based on this news report.]

Wikipedia Mumbai Meetup 5

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 12, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

Update: Having written this at 1 am in the morning, I missed out on some facts related to the discussion towards the end of the meeting. I have now added this along with a processed pictures from the meeting.

Today was the 5th meetup of Mumbai Wikipedians. The main idea behind the meetup was to enable Erik Möller, Danese Cooper and Alolita Sharma of the Wikimedia Foundation to meet with Mumbai Wikipedians and discuss some of the technical issues faced by Indian Wikipedians. The meetup was held at the Homi Bhaba Centre for Science Education Campus in Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai. The meeting began with a basic introduction of Wikipedia, an attempt to understand the Indic text input issues, local caches, a few Wikipedia-based projects to try and explain similar possible Indian collaborations and technical issues.  The meeting was attended by 10-20 people but was very engaging and exciting!

The meeting started at 6:30 pm and went all the way upto 9 pm at night. It began with a round of tea, coffee and biscuits. After tea, we moved in to a lecture hall on the ground floor of the campus. Erik began the talk by a brief introduction of Wikipedia and the work of the Wikimedia Foundation. We then got some insights into how the Foundation ran Wikipedia on top of just 450 servers with a low budget compared to that of giants like Google and Facebook. The trend seemed pretty counter-intuitive. Erik reiterated the points made by both Barry Newstead and Jimmy Wales on their previous visits on why they have considered India an important destination. He added that much of the traffic from India was going to the English Wikipedia.

Erik then went on to question the Mumbai Wikipedians on the various input options available to them on the Hindi Wikipedia. Kundan Amitabh being the expert in such matters was urged to demonstrate the inscript keyboard technique that he had shared in the last meetup. Erik asked about the in-built transliteration tool as well as the one provided by Google for purposes of editing. Moksh Juneja was of the opinion that while the phonetic (transliteration) tools were useful for small edits, the larger edits required the inscript keyboard method. Nagarjuna G suggested that during his workshops, he suggested the use of inscript keyboard to those who were going to learn from the beginning and the phonetic tool to those who were used to English keyboards. He too agreed, though, that in the long run, the inscript keyboards being the standard was more preferable.

Moving on, Erik suggested the Wikipedia Bookshelf as the go-to place for various resources on Wikipedia. He showed the various resources available on the page for beginners and hoped it could be printed and localized. Towards the end of the meetup, Nagarjuna G selected Moksh Juneja and Vivek Cherian to begin the localizing effort. Erik also pointed to examples such as the US Public Policy Initiative and a reference for school and college education projects based on Wikipedia that he started. The reference grew to act as a set of resources that school and college educators could use.

Danese Cooper (I incidentally tweeted her name as Denise, apologies for that) then took on the technical side of Wikipedia. I could not really catch onto some of the technical details she mentioned and hope that Vivek Cherian will catch on to this on his blog. I will link to his post here. The interesting things that I could make out from the talk was that a sum total of 4 people of her 60-member group worked on keeping Wikipedia up and running. She also mentioned a need for a sysops from Asia who could take the timeframe between her people in Europe and Australia. She said that their current data center dated back to the ones used by Jimmy Wales and that they hope to soon move datacenter to Ashburn, Virginia being a datacenter hub. She suggested that those interested in the technical aspects join up on the wikitech mailing list. A list of all Wikipedia related mailing lists is available here.

We then moved on to watching some of the videos created by Wikipedians at Wikimania 2010. These were created with the basic idea of getting people interested in Wikipedia and encouraging them to edit Wikipedia. They also pointed us to some of the screencast tutorials that would help Indian wikipedians create local content that would enable us to use this as an education tool. Again, Wikipedia Bookshelf has resources to help Wikipedians create video content.

Erik then showed us the “Create a book” tool which can be found under “Print/Export” on the sidebar. The tool allows us to select pages from around Wikipedia and add them as pages into a book. These can then be routed through PediaPress, which prints out the copy of a book from near your locality or exported to an offline open source reader such as Kiwix.

Erik then showed how the Encyclopedia of Life project worked. He also talked about some of the work that the Foundation was doing to enable some of the expert comments to be made available to the wikipedia article as a way of giving back. He suggested ideas like a tab on top of a page for pointing to reviews about the content of a page by an expert on EoL.

Moving on to the question and answer session, Shambulingayya asked the question of institutional collaboration with IIT-B and Wikimedia Foundation, India. The idea was welcomed. Kundan also suggested that this can be used to the advantage of improving articles on science and technology on Wikipedia. I also welcomed it. Danese provided a similar example of such a collaboration started by Wikipedian Liam Wyatt who used his passion for Wikipedia and Museums to bring about an interesting project with the British Museum. Erik added that a session called Backstage Pass enabled Wikipedians to visit the Museum for one day, then meet in a room and work on adding content to Wikipedia and sufficiently improved the article to best article status. The British Museum went along with the project seemingly because it received more traffic from sites like Wikipedia. This was leveraged by Wyatt to improve Wikipedia itself allowing the Museum website to get more attention.

Erik then showed off the openmoko WikiReader. This little gadget has an offline, low power utilisation, microSD card content of Wikipedia running on AAA batteries. The latest copy of wikipedia can be downloaded by removing the SD card and connecting it with internet. Erik asked for suggestions on how this could device could be useful in the Indian context. He also suggested that these could be locally produced at a lower cost since this had an open hardware architecture. In connection to small readers, Moksh asked about mobile accessibility. Danese pointed to the mobile version of wikipedia and confessed they did not know where to concentrate their efforts on for developing on mobile devices. She speculated on the growth of smart phones in India and said they were not sure whether to put in the effort to make Wikipedia readable on currently simple GPRS phones if the smart phones market would have cheaper alternatives available.

The end of the meetup quiz was won by Shambulingayya who got the copy of the book, Good Faith Collaboration. We then had a photo-op and moved out as night descended.

We had planned on the 10th anniversary celebration of Wikipedia. I, Moksh and Kundan have been requested to meet and discuss things once again and post the idea on the mailing list to take forward the idea of the Wikipedia X Celebrations in Mumbai. Vivek also jumped in with better ideas on the way back home for which Moksh gave us a ride. We hope to get some ideas and put it on the Wikipedia in Mumbai mailing list.

My photos from the event can be found at Wikimedia Commons. I will soon upload them onto Picasa and share them here.

I just missed out on sharing this as I was writing this very early this morning at 1:30 am. Nagarjuna G shared that they were currently working in HBCSE to digitize copies of Marathi Vishwakosh. He had already written to the Secretary of the digitization project to make the copies available under the Creative Commons License and in unicode text. This would enable Wikipedians to use this as a base for several articles on Wikipedia in Marathi. As an answer, Bishaka Datta shared that in speaking with the Observer Research Foundation had made some headway and a suggestion to do the same could be made with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra.

Falcon-9 and Akatsuki Link Bunch

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on December 10, 2010 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

I have not added any information on two huge publicity events, the launch of SpaceX’s Falcon-9 with Dragon and the Venus orbital injection failure of Akatsuki. This is because there has been plenty of good coverage on each subject in the blogosphere that I will only be happy to link to.

Akatsuki

Daniel Fischer’s Cosmic Mirror has a link bunch on Akatsuki with news and blog stories. Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society blog has the best coverage on the subject – here, here and here (in reverse chronology). There was a rather long pause before the failure became apparent. There was a huge rush on twitter and elsewhere to learn of what had happened to the spacecraft. Emily had made use of twitter’s Japanese users to translate into English some of the information which was released in Japanese first. JAXA, Japan’s space agency will now carefully check the spacecraft health and thrusters before deciding what they plan to do with the spacecraft and whether it will survive the 6 years before it is in a position to try Venus orbit injection again.

Below is the video posted to YouTube by Emily Lakdawalla on how Akatsuki would meet Venus again after 6 years:

Falcon 9

As the news of Akatsuki’s failed orbit injection spread through the English-speaking world, SpaceX began preparations for its launch. William Pomerantz on The Launch Pad does the best blog on this subject here. The launch is seen below:

This one was strange. The first launch aborted while I was about to board the bus after the talk at Nehru Planetarium. The launch occured when I got off at the bus stop near my home. The P-POD release announcement came after my dinner and SPLASHDOWN! of the Dragon capsule in the Pacific was when I was ready to go to sleep. Odd timing!