space travel

SpaceX wants to launch its first unmanned mission to Mars in 2022

Elon Musk said that a manned trip will be made in 2024, and also that they will build smaller rockets to make the journey cheaper.

Space transport company SpaceX plans its first unmanned trip to Mars in 2022, to be followed by a manned mission in 2024, founder and Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Friday. The company aims to start construction of its first spaceship in the first half of 2018, Reuters reported.

SpaceX will build smaller rocket ships than it had planned in order make going to Mars cheaper, Musk said at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide. Apart from going to Mars, the rocket his company builds could also take people from one point on Earth to any other within an hour, National Geographic quoted him as saying.

The company initially planned a suite of space vehicles to colonise Mars, but Musk said SpaceX is now focused on a “single, slimmer and shorter” rocket instead. “I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and be ready for a launch in about five years,” he was quoted as saying.

Musk also presented a proposal that SpaceX would fund its rockets by servicing the International Space Station and delivering satellites into orbit. Earlier, the chief executive had proposed the development of a huge spacecraft to mass transport people to Mars, which he has estimated would cost $10 billion (Rs 6.5 crore) per person. He said a priority was to get the cost of moving to the red planet reduced by five million percent, to the average cost of a house in the United States.

“It would be quite fun to be on Mars because you would have gravity that is about 37% of that of Earth, so you would be able to lift heavy things and bound around,” he had said earlier.

To the moon and back

Earlier this year, Musk had outlined an idea proposing a huge spacecraft to mass transport people to Mars. He said one of the company’s aims was to get the cost of moving to the red planet reduced by five million percent, to the average cost of a house in the United States.

Besides this, he had also announced that SpaceX would send two private citizens to the moon late in 2018. Two individuals have paid a “significant deposit” to do a moon mission.

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Decoding the symbolic threads and badges of one of India’s oldest cavalry units

The untold story of The President’s Bodyguard.

The national emblem of India; an open parachute and crossed lances – this triad of symbols representing the nation, excellence in training and valor respectively are held together by an elite title in the Indian army – The President’s Bodyguard (PBG).

The PBG badge is worn by one of the oldest cavalry units in the India army. In 1773, Governor Warren Hastings, former Governor General of India, handpicked 50 troopers. Before independence, this unit was referred to by many titles including Troops of Horse Guards and Governor General’s Body Guards (GGBG). In 1950, the unit was named The President’s Bodyguard and can be seen embroidered in the curved maroon shoulder titles on their current uniforms.

The President’s Bodyguard’s uniform adorns itself with proud colours and symbols of its 245 year-old-legacy. Dating back to 1980, the ceremonial uniform consists of a bright red long coat with gold girdles and white breeches, a blue and gold ceremonial turban with a distinctive fan and Napoleon Boots with spurs. Each member of the mounted unit carries a special 3-meter-long bamboo cavalry lance, decorated by a red and white pennant. A sheathed cavalry sabre is carried in in the side of the saddle of each trooper.

While common perception is that the PBG mainly have ceremonial duties such as that of being the President’s escort during Republic Day parade, the fact is that the members of the PBG are highly trained. Handpicked by the President’s Secretariat from mainstream armored regiments, the unit assigns a task force regularly for Siachen and UN peace keeping operations. Moreover, the cavalry members are trained combat parachutists – thus decorating the PBG uniform with a scarlet Para Wings badge that signifies that these troopers are a part of the airborne battalion of the India Army.

Since their foundation, the President’s Guard has won many battle honors. In 1811, they won their first battle honor ‘Java’. In 1824, they sailed over Kalla Pani for the first Burmese War and earned the second battle honour ‘Ava’. The battle of Maharajapore in 1843 won them their third battle honor. Consequently, the PBG fought in the main battles of the First Sikh War and earned four battle honours. Post-independence, the PBG served the country in the 1962 Indo-China war and the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

The PBG, one of the senior most regiments of the Indian Army, is a unique unit. While the uniform is befitting of its traditional and ceremonial role, the badges that augment those threads, tell the story of its impressive history and victories.

How have they managed to maintain their customs for more than 2 centuries? A National Geographic exclusive captures the PBG’s untold story. The documentary series showcases the discipline that goes into making the ceremonial protectors of the supreme commander of the Indian Armed Forces.

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The National Geographic exclusive is a landmark in television and is being celebrated by the #untoldstory contest. The contest will give 5 lucky winners an exclusive pass to the pre-screening of the documentary with the Hon’ble President of India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. You can also nominate someone you think deserves to be a part of the screening. Follow #UntoldStory on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to participate.

This article was produced by Scroll marketing team on behalf of National Geographic and not by the Scroll editorial team.