Desi Talk – that’s all you need to know 4 NATIONAL AFFAIRS October 15, 2021 I ndian-American astronaut Raja Chari is in the thick of training for a mission to space launching tentatively at the end of October. Chari, for whom it will be the first space flight, will be the Commander of the SpaceX Crew 3 flight which is sched- uled to take off for the International Space Station for a long stay in space, NASA announced in a press release Sept. 14, 2021. The crew will complete a six- month science mission aboard the mi- crogravity laboratory in low-Earth orbit. The Crew-3 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This will be the third time that SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket will carry astronauts to the Inter- national Space Station for a long dura- tion mission. The earliest targeted launch date is Sunday, Oct. 31, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA said. The launch will carry three NASA as- tronauts – mission commander Chari, pilot TomMarshburn, and mission spe- cialist Kayla Barron to the space station – as well as European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, who will serve as a mission specialist. Apart from Chari, this is the first spaceflight for Barron, and Maurer as well. It is the third for Marshburn. Chari was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. An Iowa native, Chari graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astro- nautical engineering and engineering science. He earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He also logged more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18, according to the profile provided by NASA. Astronaut Raja Chari Training To Lead SpaceX Mission Launching Oct. 31, 2021 By a StaffWriter hoto Credit:SpaceX SpaceX Crew-3 Raja Chari. In this image, NASA astronaut and SpaceX Commander Raja Chari trains aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft in Hawthorn California. T he Breakthrough Foundation an- nounced the 2022 Breakthrough Prizes in Life Sciences, Funda- mental Physics And Mathematics recently. University of Cambridge’s Sir Shankar Balasubramanian and two others bagged the Life Sciences award for making pos- sible the rapid sequencing of the Covid-19 virus which has saved thousands, if not millions of lives. Altogether four scientists of Indian ori- gin were among the winners of the prizes which have gained the reputation of being the ‘Oscars of Science’ and are the world’s largest prizes for science equalling $3 mil- lion for each category. This year a total of $15.75 Million in prizes went for discover- ies leading to Covid-19 vaccines, treat- ment for neurological diseases, unprec- edently precise quantum clocks among other major accomplishments. The live televised awards ceremony has been post- poned to 2022, Breakthrough announced in a press release Sept. 9, 2021. Shankar Balasubramanian and two other scientists, David Kleneman and Pascal Mayer, received the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. Though the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna relied on decades of work by Katalin Karikó and DrewWeissman, “the almost immediate identification and characterization of the virus, rapid development of vaccines, and real-time monitoring of new genetic vari- ants would have been impossible without the next generation sequencing technolo- gies invented by Shankar Balasubramani- an, David Klenerman and Pascal Mayer,” the press release said. Before their inventions, re-sequencing a full human genome could take many months and cost millions of dollars; today, it can be done within a day at the cost of around $600. Beyond the main prizes, six New Horizons Prizes, each of $100,000, were distributed between 13 early-career scientists and mathematicians who have already made a substantial impact on their fields. In addition, three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes were awarded to early-career women math- ematicians. Shankar Balasubramanian, University of Cambridge, David Klenerman, Uni- versity of Cambridge, and Pascal Mayer, Alphanosos received the prize “For the development of a robust and affordable method to determine DNA sequences on a massive scale, which has transformed the practice of science and medicine.” In the category ‘2022 New Horizons in Physics Prize’, the scientists of Indian origin include: Suchitra Sebastian, Uni- versity of Cambridge, “For high precision electronic and magnetic measurements that have profoundly changed our under- standing of high temperature supercon- ductors and unconventional insulators.” Mansi Manoj Kasliwal of the Califor- nia Institute of Technology, along with 3 others “For leadership in laying founda- tions for electromagnetic observations of sources of gravitational waves, and leadership in extracting rich information from the first observed collision of two neutron stars.” Vedika Khemani, Stanford University, and three others, “For pioneering theo- retical work formulating novel phases of non-equilibrium quantummatter, includ- ing time crystals.” The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and its founding sponsors include Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google; Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; venture capitalists Yuri and Julia Milner; and AnneWojcicki, CEO of the genomics company 23andMe. By a StaffWriter Sir Shankar Balasubramanian And 3 Other Indian-Origin Scientists Win ‘Oscars Of Science’ Sir Shankar Balasubramanian Professor of Astronomy Mansi Manoj Kasliwal. Professor Suchitra Sebastian Assistant Professor of Physics at Stanford University Vedika Khemani. Photo – Universityof Cambridge Photo —Universityof Cambridge