ESA Launches World’s First Commercial Fully Re-Programmable Satellite

ESA Launches World's First Commercial Fully Re-Programmable Satellite

Recently, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched the world’s first commercial fully re-programmable satellite. Read the story to know more.

Crux of the Matter

In News
The European Space Agency (ESA) has launched the Eutelsat Quantum, the world’s first commercial fully re-programmable satellite.

It took off from French Guiana on board an Ariane 5 rocket and was placed in orbit some 36 minutes later. It was manufactured in collaboration with satellite operator Eutelsat and prime manufacturer Airbus.

Eutelsat Quantum is based on a software that will allow to change the communications needs in real-time, unlike conventional models that are designed and “hard-wired” on Earth and cannot be changed in orbit.

When a satellite is launched, demand and markets can change over time. A satellite that is not ‘fixed’ and can adapt to customers gives us better prospects.

Elodie Viau, Agency’s Telecommunications and Applications Director

  • The first satellite launched by NASA was Pioneer 1. The satellite was launched on October 10,1958. 

India Joins UNESCO Club 40

India Joins UNESCO Club 40

With Dholavira and Ramappa Temple recently being declared as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, let’s take a little journey across the country and go over all the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India.

Crux of the Matter

World Heritage Sites In India

  • The slogan of UNESCO is “Building peace in the minds of men and women”. The organisation is headquartered in Paris, France.

Colonialism To Castro: Cuba’s Cheat Sheet

Colonialism To Castro: Cuba's Cheat Sheet

Poor economic performance caused uproar and protests against current Prez Miguel Diaz. From Spanish crown to world superpowers, Cuba has had long history of standing up against those more powerful than itself. In this deep dive, let’s explore the controversial history of this small Carribean Island.

Crux of the Matter

2021 Anti-Govt Protests
Protests in Cuba recently erupted over the country’s economic crisis and the citizens demanded resignation of President Miguel Diaz. Notably, the country criticized US’ move to support dissent movements.


  • 15th to 19th Century: Cuba became a Spanish colony after Columbus’ discovery.
  • 20th Century: In Cuban-Spanish Conflict, Spaniards retreated as US established hegemony.
  • 1902: US military receded, and Cuba became Republic.

Independent Cuba

  • 1930s: Nationalist sentiment leads to revolt as citizens lose confidence in Cuban Revolutionary Party.
  • 1940: US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista becomes President.

Fidel Castro
Fidel Castro was a Cuban revolutionary known for establishing Communist Rule in the island.

  • 1953: He was sentenced to 15 years in jail after a failed coup attempt against General Batista.
  • 1955: Exiled in Mexico, he aligned himself with Che Guevara.

Anti-US Stance

  • 1959: Castro became President by overthrowing Batista in guerilla movement.
  • 1961: US allied with Cuban exiles and launched invasive covert operation against Castro.

Known as Bay of Pigs, the  invasion fails within 2 days. However, US continued to fund rebellion against Castro.

Cuban Missile Crisis
In 1962 US imposed naval quarantine on Cuba after reports of USSR nuclear ballistic missiles there. After talks between Soviet and US leaders Nikita Khrushchev and Kennedy, USSR removed missiles and US pledged to not invade the country again.

Cuba Cheetsheet
In confrontation with US, Cuba had communist states USSR, China, and North Korea as allies. Castro survived CIA assassination attempts, and US continued economic sanctions. Castro family dominated Cuba’s high-ranking politics.

Post Castro

  • With a population of over 11 million, Cuba is the second-most populous country in the Caribbean after Haiti. The country has no private hospitals or clinics, as all health services are Government-run.

Drowning In Oil Venezuela’s Economic Crisis

Drowning In Oil Venezuela's Economic Crisis

Amidst the ongoing fiasco between UK and Venezuela over gold, let’s have a look at how Venezuela ended up in the world’s worst hyperinflation situation under Maduro’s regime.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Venezuela Gold Case
With Bank of England (BoE) holding ~$2 bn of Venezuela’s gold, Nicolás Maduro’s Govt demanded access to gold for the country amidst the pandemic. However, BoE refused, as UK recognizes opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuelan President.

British Govt claims Guaidó is authorized to make decisions regarding gold held in BoE. Guaidó wants to keep the gold in BoE
vaults, believing that the gold will be used for corrupt purposes by Maduro.

Venezuela In 1998
With ~30% annual inflation, nearly 50% population was below poverty line. The oil-dependent economy was enduring falling oil prices.

Hugo Chávez’s Presidency (1999-2013) was characterized by alienation from US, promise of redistribution of oil wealth, and economic stability.

Maduro’s Presidency
Chavez’s Vice President Nicolás Maduro replaced him in 2013, under whom Venezuelan economy collapsed, and inflation reached 50%. After losing majority in Parliament and protests against him, Maduro established more powerful National Constituent Assembly loyal to him.

Economic Downfall

  • 2016: Inflation reached 800%.
  • 2017: Pro-Maduro Supreme Court tried to dissolve the Parliament.
  • 2018: Maduro elected with majority, which were called rigged by opposition.

    Maduro’s autocratic rule prompted sanctions from NATO, aggravating the economic crisis.

Presidential Crisis

Petrostate Perils
Petrostates are oil-dependent economies with some having widespread corruption and extreme income inequality. ~90% of Venezuela’s earnings come from oil exports, making its economy susceptible to oil price fluctuations.

Bolivar Plummets

  • Venezuela faced oil bust in 2016, when international crudeoil prices collapsed.
  • Oil prices plunged from $100 per barrel in 2014 to $30 in 2016.
  • Combined with depreciation of Venezuelan currency, Bolivar, inflation rate there reached over 10,00,000% in 2018.

  • In Venezuela, a litre of petrol costs just $0.02, making it the cheapest in the world. Petrol prices in Hong Kong are the highest in the world with 1 litre of petrol costing $2.40.

Geopolitics Of South China Sea

Geopolitics Of South China Sea

With lucrative oil and natural gas resources and scope for profitable commercial fishing, the South China Sea is a goldmine of opportunities. Surrounding states have always been at odds with each other over its control. Tensions have rarely escalated to armed conflicts but China appears the most hostile in its claims on the territory, threatening to involve global powers in the conflict. Let’s take a look at the geopolitics of the region.

Crux of the Matter

The Economic Link
The strategically placed South China Sea links the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean. This major shipping channel extends
from the Taiwan Strait in the North to the Strait of Malacca in the south.

Race For Resources
The South China Sea is rich in minerals including Hydrocarbons.  Experts claim it has roughly 11 billion barrels oil and 190 trillion cubic feet natural gas. As per analysts, such reserves are enough to power China for 30 years at current consumption rate.

Hague Ruling ’16
In 2016, International Tribunal at Hague dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea and ruled in favor of Philippines. Beijing disputed the ruling and continued reclamation and militarization of the region. Fear of repercussions ensured that the Philippines did not confront Beijing’s incursion in its territorial waters.

China’s Expansion
To make the islands habitable, China employed the Salami Slicing Policy of Expansion, which includes minor offenses that cannot be justified as an act of war but cumulatively produce a much more significant action. Through this, China has acquired de
control of the area demarcated in its self proclaimed 9 Dash Line

Law Of The Sea
Under the UN Law, states have the right to 200 nautical miles “exclusive economic zone” to exploit the sea’s resources, as measured from their land territories.  It specifies that these land territories must be suitable for human habitation. The Hague ruling decreed that no occupied Islands met the criterion, thus delivering critical blow to China’s claim there.

US Intervention
UN laws allow “innocent passage” to warships in territorial waters. To assert its rights to freedom of navigation, the US, Japan and Australia have conducted freedom of navigation operations in the areas which Beijing claims as part of its EEZs.

Further Challenges

  • Ownership of Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea.
  •  Nearly all claimants, especially China, offer flimsy historical evidence which are counteracted by the rival nations.
  • Though Taiwan occupies one of the islands in the Sea, its sovereignty issue with the PRC renders the country incapable of being a signatory to the UN Law Of The Sea, and claiming waters.

  • The name Pacific Ocean is derived from a Latin term Tepre Pacificum meaning, “peaceful sea”. Covering 30% of Earth’s surface, it is the largest ocean in the world.