What Erdogan and Aliyev agreed on in Karabakh

The presidents of Turkey and Azerbaijan signed a declaration in Shusha

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, together with the head of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh. In Shusha, which was declared the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan” after last year’s war, the parties signed a declaration of cooperation

“Today is a historic day. Today we are receiving the President of Turkey, my brother Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the liberated Shusha, ”Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev began the press conference after the signing ceremony.

Erdogan flew to Azerbaijan immediately after the NATO summit held the day before. In Nagorno-Karabakh, he stopped in two cities – Fizuli and Shusha, which after the recent conflict received the status of the “cultural capital of Azerbaijan”.

It was in Shusha that the sides signed a declaration on allied relations in various spheres. It also touches upon the issues of mutual assistance in the military sphere. The document contains a clause on the Zangezur corridor. The corridor will connect Azerbaijan and Turkey by road and rail (while Armenia lying between them opposes it).

According to Aliyev, the declaration has historical significance. It raises the relations of the countries to the highest level and guarantees the unity of the “closest countries on a global scale” in the future.

In particular, Turkish TV channel TRT reports, Turkey and Azerbaijan have agreed to conduct joint actions in case of threat or aggression from third states against the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, inviolability or security of the internationally recognized borders of any of the parties.

Erdogan said at a joint press conference that it is planned to open a Turkish consulate in Shusha as soon as possible. On the eve of the visit, various media outlets, citing sources, reported that the parties would discuss the implementation of joint reconstruction and construction projects in Karabakh.

After the official part, Aliyev decided to conduct an excursion around Shusha for Erdogan. 

“Remind about Turkey’s role in victory”

Interestingly, the Day of National Salvation is celebrated in Azerbaijan on June 15. It is believed that Heydar Aliyev, who headed the Supreme Council on this day in 1993, saved the country from a coup and separatism.

Erdogan is expected to address the Azerbaijani parliament on June 16.

According to experts, with his visit, Erdogan, first of all, is trying to consolidate his role in the region. This opinion was expressed in an interview with Gazeta.Ru by a senior researcher at IMEMO RAN , turkologist Viktor Nadein-Raevsky .

“He wants to show that Turkey’s actions, which made it possible to win this victory, are not an accident, but fit into the framework of a common pan-Turkist policy. Erdogan sought to eliminate the Armenian wedge that divides the Turkic world. And this policy should not be confused with elements of the policy of neo-Ottomanism, which is spreading on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire – the Arab countries, Syria, Iraq, and partly Libya.

Here we are talking about the creation of a supranational community in a new area. The goal is to unite the Turkic-speaking peoples. During the war, Turkish generals took part in the command at the fronts, officers were in each military unit, the Turks also trained Azerbaijani special forces. And this visit is another confirmation of the policy that Erdogan has adopted, ”the Turkologist is sure.

At the same time, the expert points out that Russia “did not allow Turkey to develop in full force.” Thus, only 60 Turkish officers are employed in the joint Russian-Turkish observation point.

At the same time, not all experts are inclined to believe that the application of the term “pan-Turkism” to Turkey’s foreign policy is appropriate.

What are Erdogan goals?

“Rather, it refers to political philosophy, ideology and journalism. And if we talk about the attempts of the cultural influence of Turkey, then it extends far not only to the Turkic countries. After all, Georgia has a Turkish university, and Germany has Turkish mullahs, ”recalls Nikolai Silaev, a leading researcher at the MGIMO Institute for International Studies .

At the same time, the expert identified three goals that Erdogan pursued during his visit to Nagorno-Karabakh. “Firstly, he was traveling with the aim of strengthening political ties with Azerbaijan. Secondly, it was necessary to remind once again about the role of Turkey in the Karabakh war, since without it Baku either would not have won, or, at least, not with such results. Third, it is the exploitation of the political capital that Erdogan acquired by providing military assistance to Azerbaijan. Erdogan came to celebrate the victory with Aliyev , they will do it for many years to come. The trip also has great symbolic meaning, ”says Silaev.

Vadim Mukhanov, senior researcher at the MGIMO Center for Eurasian Studies, agrees that Erdogan’s visit to Shusha is also important for the Azerbaijani leadership headed by Ilham Aliyev against the backdrop of an incompletely resolved conflict with Armenia, including over the issue of the transit corridor.

“In general, Erdogan has repeatedly spoken about Turkic unity. Close relations between Baku and Ankara fit well into this framework, ”the expert said.

Nadein-Raevsky is sure that

Azerbaijani President Aliyev is not ready to share power with anyone, and therefore is not interested in a significant strengthening of Turkish influence in his country.

The role of Shushi and the road through Armenia

“This is evidenced by the fact that Turkish military bases have not appeared in Azerbaijan. He also suspended the settlement of territories by Turkomans, who traditionally cover the faces of women. The Azerbaijani population is still not ready to accept such a return to the Middle Ages, they are Europeanized. The role of religion in this country was significantly reduced during the Soviet era, and Azerbaijan became largely secular, ”reminds the Turkologist.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

Shusha is a key city in Nagorno-Karabakh with a population of 4.5 thousand people. In Armenia and Karabakh there is an expression “who owns Shushi, he owns Karabakh”. During the 1992-1994 Karabakh war, victorious for the Armenians, the Azerbaijani population left the city.

During the operation on November 8-9, 2020, the city was again under the control of Azerbaijan. And it was the date of November 8 that was chosen by Aliyev for the Victory Day holiday in the whole war.

Later, he laid the foundation for the construction of a new mosque in Shusha, citing the fact that allegedly “at one time there were 17 mosques”, and began restoration of the Cathedral of Holy Christ the All-Savior, which had suffered during the war. A number of Armenian observers are suspicious of this initiative, seeing the possible motives of the Azerbaijani authorities in the desire to destroy the Christian heritage.

The corridor

The Syunik (or Zangezur, as it is called in Azerbaijan) automobile corridor through the territory of Armenia, which is mentioned in the Shusha Declaration, existed in the Soviet years until the early 1990s – the message was interrupted due to the events of the first Karabakh war.

Under the terms of the peace treaty concluded with the participation of Moscow in November 2020, it is envisaged to build a road linking the main territory of Azerbaijan with its exclave – the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, surrounded by the territories of Armenia, Turkey and Iran.

“By agreement of the Parties, the construction of new transport communications linking the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured,” says the 9th clause of the agreement without specifying a specific route for the future road.

At the end of April, the head of Azerbaijan already said that in case of Armenia’s refusal to voluntarily agree to the construction of the corridor, Baku could use force again. Yerevan is in no hurry to agree on the construction of infrastructure, calling Aliyev’s threats a provocation.

As earlier Vadim Mukhanov from MGIMO explained to Gazeta.Ru, now in the Armenian society revanchist sentiments are gaining popularity. At the same time, they are not completely satisfied with the results of last year’s war in Azerbaijan, where they just want to unblock old and create new communications. “This is a very interesting attempt on the part of Aliyev. Therefore, we can in this regard Erdogan’s visit to Karabakh as support for the expansion of Azerbaijan, ”the expert said.

China turns to Turkmenistan for gas

By Chris Gill and Jim Pollard

 

Australian exports of LNG look set to tighten amid tension between Beijing and the Morrison government over multiple issues. It is despite big investments by Chinese oil majors in recent years. Beijing looks to source more natural gas from Turkmenistan via a new pipeline

(AF) Turkmenistan may have a golden opportunity to supply Beijing with more natural gas via a new pipeline, following the slump in relations between China and Australia.

Senior Turkmen officials were in China recently and are said to have discussed further cooperation on natural gas.

But such a move in Central Asia could ruffle feathers with Russia, which is also piping gas to China. It is a bad news for Australian firms exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the same destination. Australian LNG shipments are worth 64-billion-yuan a year (about US$10 billion).

Recently two Chinese LNG importers were told to immediately suspend LNG imports from Australia. Trade with Chinese oil majors that have invested billions in gas projects Down Under has not been affected so far. And given just these two smaller natural gas importers have received the notice, some US media outlets have suggested that this is only a ‘test’ by the Chinese government.

Deteriorating relationship with Australia

It is another shot across the bow at Canberra as ties with Beijing continue to deteriorate. The bilateral relationship is clearly in bad shape. The lowest point in decades for sure.

The Labor Party’s Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong said on Tuesday Prime Minister Scott Morrison was so focused winning a domestic political advantage he did not seem to “fully comprehend Australia’s interests in relation to China. The first job of national leaders is the safety of their citizens. Our leaders do not make us safe by beating the drums of war with China,” Wong said.

Part of the problem stems from the fact a Federal election will be staged late this year or in early 2022.

Chinese media kept the needle at Morrison’s belly. They are reporting that there will be a “smooth transition” when the country abandons Australian natural gas, while China and Turkmenistan cement ties with an US$8 billion pipeline and more plans afoot.

Turkmenistan is the second largest country in Central Asia and has a population of 5.6 million. A landlocked country that shares borders with Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. It is playing a key role in China’s Belt and Road scheme.

Data from China’s Ministry of Commerce shows the country imported about 101 million tons of natural gas for an estimated 231.4 billion yuan (about US$36 billion) last year. Imports rose by 5.3% year-on-year, while the money spent decreased by 19%, mainly because natural gas prices fell during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the LNG imported by China last year, the proportion of imports from Australia accounted for 46%. It is valued at about US$10 billion (about 64.3 billion yuan).

China regards Turkmenistan as a long term partner in the natural gas field

On May 10, the two deputy prime ministers of Turkmenistan visited Xi’an for talks with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who emphasized that “China regards Turkmenistan as a long-term partner in the natural gas field”. This little-known landlocked state is the world’s fourth-largest in terms of its proven natural gas reserves. Later, the two parties agreed to consolidate and expand cooperation in the natural gas field.

Work has been continuing on the D line – a fourth line linking to the Central Asian pipeline. The high-level meeting between China and Turkmenistan likely means that it will come online soon.

Expert’s view

Professor K Paik, an expert on Sino-Russian oil and gas cooperation, said China had made a big effort to boost the economics of the natural gas supply from Central Asia. The academic, who is in the process of setting up a Sino-Russian Energy Forum, told ATF China wanted Turkmenistan gas to enable a total of 85 bcm/y of gas to be sent via Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan – with 15 bcm/y via Pipeline A, the same amount via Pipeline B, plus 25 bcm/y via Pipeline C and 30 bcm/y via Pipeline D.

CNPC paid all the bills for the latest pipeline development. Together with its three domestic trunk pipelines (West-East Pipelines 1, 2 and 3).
“China had difficulty in getting full capacity of pipeline gas from Turkmenistan a couple years ago when the gas supply shortage became a serious problem in China. The core point was Turkmenistan was not happy about the low gas price for their exports. On the other side China was not happy about the burdensome gas price for their imports.

Paik said Turkmenistan is introducing a new gas market by accelerating the TAPI Line. It is with their own investment for 85% of the line’s construction.
“In my view, this is the mistake Turkmeni authority made with regard to construction of the D Line. A pipeline passing through Afghanistan without a proper security protection will be a huge liability. Consequently, Russia saw the opportunity to accelerate its own initiative by promoting a Mongolian route. From Gazprom’s view, Russia’s west Siberian gas supply to China via the Xinjiang route has to compete against Turkmen gas. But the Mongolian route will enter into China’s Bohai Bay gas market at a stroke.”

Reasons for worry in Australia

China’s three big national oil companies – PetroChina, CNOOC and Sinopec – have all invested in the LNG industry in Queensland in northeastern Australia. CNOOC is a partner in Shell’s Curtis LNG project. Sinopec buys the bulk of the LNG from Origin Energy’s Australia Pacific LNG.

PetroChina is a 50-per-cent partner with Shell in the $10 billion Arrow gas venture. It started its first phase about a year ago.

So, with big long-term deals a fair proportion of Australia’s LNG trade with China would appear to be relatively steady.

Natural gas, like iron ore, is one of Australia’s cornerstone industries. Australia’s annual LNG exports account for about 10% of total exports. So, if China, as the largest importer of Australia’s natural gas, only stops importing 30% or so, it could cause some hair pulling.

The writing seems on the wall that Australian LNG exports to China will see diminishing demand.

Russia – China: Cheap Gas, Slow Trains (Eurasianet, USA)

The American edition (EurasiaNet) offers its views on the key events and comments on the relationship between Russia and China in a monthly digest. What did Lavrov talk about in China? How Russia and China operate in Central Asia? What will be the new large investment project of the Chinese in the Far East? Why it was not possible to create a Russian-Chinese analogue of Amazon?

Lavrov’s benefit in China

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov became the first high-ranking Russian official to visit China since the start of the pandemic. He extended the good-neighborliness agreement between the two countries for 5 years. Also, he said that Russia and China are promoting a unifying agenda on the world stage, directly opposing both states to the United States.

Relations with the United States were generally one of the main topics of negotiations on the first day of Lavrov’s visit, Kommersant reports. The parties even signed a joint statement in which they called on to abandon the politicization of the topic of human rights protection (for their infringement, the US authorities regularly criticize the Russian Federation and the PRC), recalled that “there is no single standard of a democratic model,” and the rights of sovereign states to independently determine their own way of development.

The meeting was discussed not only in the Chinese and Russian media. British The Times noted that Russia is seeking an alliance with China in the hope of bypassing US sanctions. But this alliance is unlikely to be complete: China will still look down on Russia, says the German Handelsblatt.

Together Against the Dollar

Lavrov also said that Russia and China will do everything to secure their financial and trade relations from threats from unfriendly countries. It was about the need to move away from the use of international payment systems controlled by the West. Including for the sake of this, Russia and China are switching to settlements in national currencies, the minister added.

As of the end of the first quarter of 2020, the share of the American currency in mutual settlements between Russia and China during the previous 5 years decreased from 90 to 46 percent. But they still fail to achieve monetary independence. First, the share lost by the dollar went mainly to the euro, not the yuan or the ruble. Secondly, as explained by the associate professor of the Department of Mathematical Methods in Economics, PRUE. G.V. Plekhanova Nikita Moiseev, the cross-rates of the national currencies of the PRC and the Russian Federation are still formed through the dollar. Therefore, the fall of the ruble against the dollar due to Western sanctions directly affects the cross-rate of the ruble against the Chinese yuan.

Influence in Central Asia will have to yield?

At the same time, not everything is so amicable in relations between the Russian Federation and the PRC. There are also serious contradictions. The interests of both countries collide in Central Asia. In this region Russia can no longer compete for influence with a stronger economy, said Alexander Gabuev, head of the Russia in Asia-Pacific program at the Carnegie Moscow Center.

According to him, this is especially true in the military sphere. If earlier there was an unspoken division of labor between the countries: Beijing is engaged in the economy, and Moscow is engaged in military issues. Now the Chinese “are developing more and more military instruments in the region”, and even without coordination with Russia they opened a border base in Tajikistan. Chinese leaders have repeatedly stated that this region adjacent to the country’s western borders is of “extremely great strategic value from a geopolitical point of view for the PRC.” The growing tension with the United States can only increase Beijing’s interest.

“China will not stop at economic dominance. It is interested in full-scale influence and transformation of the region into an exclusive sphere of its interests. Russia will be assigned the role of a junior partner,” says the expert at the Carnegie Center.

Trains go, Deripaska urges

The rapid recovery of the Chinese economy after the blow of the pandemic, combined with the increase in the delivery time by sea and the rise in prices, made the transportation of goods to Europe by rail through Russia and Asia more attractive for the Celestial Empire. In the first two months of 2021, more than two thousand freight trains traveled this route. This is twice as much as in January-February a year earlier, the FT reported. Since 2016, the indicator has grown sevenfold.

Despite the growing popularity of rail transport, it still accounts for only a small fraction of China’s total exports. The port of Yangshan alone in January loaded about 2 million containers against 209 thousand sent by rail in the first two months of 2021.

The quality of Russian railways does not allow for fast and reliable transportation. Including on the Europe-Asia route. Oleg Deripaska noted that in his Telegram channel. “In Russia, the average speed of a freight train is now 16 km / h,” he laments. “We won’t get very far this way.”

He also noted that, unlike China, Russia does not have a clear plan for the development of the transport industry. “If you deal with Asian transit and achieve at least 50 km / h for cargo, carry out real digitalization of customs services and, as a result, get the delivery of goods in 9 days from Asia to Europe, you can earn billions. That will be a source for deep modernization of Russian Railways. But you have to think and invest, ”Deripaska summed up.

How German Gref did not agree with Jack Ma

Details of the failed partnership between the Chinese trading giant Alibaba and the Russian Sberbank have become known. The story began in 2016, when the retailer began to develop business localization projects and chose Russia as a pilot region. The management of the Chinese company decided that from the point of view of GR-risk it would be difficult for it to develop in Russia without a local partner. “Jack Ma said that he could not imagine that the Russian government would be comfortable with the fact that the largest online retailer is a foreign company, especially a Chinese one,” sources told Forbes.

As a result, Sberbank and Alibaba did not become partners in the e-commerce market. They understood the essence of partnership in different ways. Sberbank wanted to create a company on the basis of a joint venture that would trade outside of Russia. Alibaba had a different goal – to localize in Russia. She achieved it later. In 2019, the Chinese created the AliExpress Russia company together with Mail.ru Group, Megafon and RDIF. But Sber’s dream – to become a “Russian Amazon” – has not yet come true.

New investment project of the Chinese in Russia

China Jingan Iron and Steel Company intends to build the first large metallurgical coke plant in the Russian Far East in Yakutia. Chinese investors plan to produce up to 4 million tons of metallurgical coke a year from local coal. It is expected that 5 billion yuan (about $ 763 million) will be invested in the project. Other parameters of the deal were not disclosed. In addition to metallurgical coke, the enterprise will produce naphthalene, benzene, and ammonium sulfate.


This is how Russia – China relationship is seen from USA.

Singapore’s foray into space

Boldly going where no little red dot has gone before – Singapore space industry


By Derrick A Paulo, Lee Li Ying and Sharifah Fadhilah Alshahab

The efforts of the country’s budding space industry are giving the Republic a larger stake in the space race than many people may think. The programme Why It Matters looks at the opportunities and obstacles.

The first made-in-Singapore commercial earth observation satellite was launched in December 2015. A global network of satellites may be on the horizon

Over the past four years, Singapore-based start-up Transcelestial has made a device called Centauri. It is about the size of a shoe box. Its aim: To provide internet connectivity that is around 1,000 times faster, or more, than now.

It just needs to connect to a satellite using laser communications. No, make that a global satellite network the company wants to put into space.

Working from home at the speed of light, however, “isn’t even scratching the surface of the capability” of laser-linked satellites, says Transcelestial co-founder Rohit Jha.

He is looking into connecting “roughly three and a half billion people” — about half the world who have no internet connectivity or have “very basic 2G-level phone services”.

“All you have to do is position a satellite above (them), and drop a laser link. And you can power high-bandwidth internet to everyone,” he tells the programme Why It Matters.

Expecting a roll-out by the end of 2024

Transcelestial is still doing research and development for its global space network, and eyeing a roll-out by the end of 2024.

The start-up is not alone in aiming high. There are more than 30 firms and over 1,000 people in Singapore’s budding space industry.

And the effort they are putting into space technology is giving the nation a larger stake in the space race than many people may think.

Since 2004, investors have put US$135 billion (S$183 billion) into the global space sector. Singapore, though a little red dot, accounts for 7 per cent of the global share.

By 2040, the global space industry could generate revenue of US$1.1 trillion, according to Morgan Stanley estimates. It is a race for big money, even as Singapore’s foray into space could help to solve world problems too.

‘LOW-HANGING FRUIT’

For space superpowers and private companies with deep pockets, going into space also means attempting missions to the Moon and beyond.

But that is not the kind of breakthrough that Singapore Space and Technology Association president Jonathan Hung thinks the Republic needs.

Size is a consideration here — the Kennedy Space Centre, where such missions blast off in the United States, occupies a site that is 80 per cent of Singapore’s land area.

“We’ve got to pick and choose what we want to do. Right now, Singapore’s play is very much within the satellite domain. Now, satellites can do quite a lot. Specifically, we cover telecommunications. We also cover advanced navigation,” says Hung.

These are some of the “low-hanging fruit” he believes should not be underestimated. “There are good jobs. We can create … advanced manufacturing activities. All these things will help regenerate and spur the economy on.”

Jonathan Hung has been wooing government players, research foundations and international partners for the past 14 years to make Singapore a bona fide space hub

There are now more than 2500 satellites orbiting the earth – there will be more

Without satellites providing location tracking, smartphone apps that people take for granted, like ride-hailing services and Google Maps, would stop working. There are now more than 2,500 satellites orbiting the earth, and experts say there will be more.

These go as far as 35,000 kilometres away. It is the orbital altitude of geosynchronous satellites transmitting television and other signals to the ground. There are also satellites orbiting at lower levels.

Transcelestial, for example, plans to put its satellites at around 1,000 km above ground. It is a reason its signals would be faster — taking “less than five milliseconds” instead of a delay of “almost a second”, says Jha.

Another benefit of its satellite technology, especially to a city like Singapore, could be the cheaper and thus faster roll-out of 5G.

“If you’re building fibre networks, a kilometer of fibre is roughly around US$100,000 to US$150,000 … Our device usually comes in at one-tenth of that price,” cites Jha.

EYE IN THE SKY

Satellite products and services are driving more than half of space-related commercial activities worldwide. In Singapore, the first commercial remote sensing satellite built here — called TeLEOS-1 — was launched in 2015 by Singapore Technologies (ST) Electronics.

The satellite gave the Republic an eye in the sky to see what was going in the region, with geospatial analysts studying its pictures to provide insights for organisations willing to pay for them.

There are just two problems with TeLEOS-1. It cannot see through clouds, and is blind at night.

So engineers are putting together something with a more powerful vision. TeLEOS-2, which is now undergoing testing. It will carry radar that can capture images day or night, and no matter what the weather condition.

But it may be a couple of years before the satellite is launched.

A team of 70 engineers took five years to develop TeLEOS-1, considering the space environment a satellite must operate in “compared to our everyday electronics”, as systems engineer Tan Chek Wu puts it.

For example, it alternates between heat and cold “14 to 15 times a day” in orbit, cites Tan, who is with ST Engineering’s satellite systems. It also travels at “more than 7 km per second” — even airplane speeds do not come close.

And to ensure that a satellite can “survive the vibrations of the journey” on a rocket launched into space, his team must “put it on a big shaker” first.

NANOSATELLITES AND 18-METRE ROCKETS

While the TeLEOS-1 is a 400-kg satellite, former defence engineer Ng Zhen Ning thinks the start-up he co-founded in 2017, NuSpace, has a winning edge with satellites weighing less than 10 kg.

These nanosatellites can do almost anything conventional satellites can, like monitoring weather conditions or tracking internet data.

“It’s all thanks to miniaturisation of technology,” says Ng, citing the mobile phone as an example. “That has shrunk to the size of an iPhone. The same thing has happened for nanosatellites.”

There may be a vast expanse of space, but budgets are limited. “Building such satellites is roughly 50 times cheaper,” points out the 30-year-old, who expects the cost to go down further, together with the mass manufacturing of satellites.

“We’re working with contract manufacturers to figure out how we can streamline the entire assembly process. And hopefully by 2024, we should be able to have this assembly line here in Singapore.”

NuSpace’s satellites each weigh up to 4.5 kg

Small satellites have some downsides, however. Big satellites get priority on rockets because they take up most of the space. So if their production schedules are delayed, then everyone else must wait.

Smaller spacecraft for small satellites?

Rocket makers are now coming up with smaller spacecraft so small satellites can have a dedicated ride to space. In Singapore, 29-year-old Simon Gwozdz is looking into this, starting with a research rocket as a prototype for something more powerful.

His dream rocket would be 18 metres high, or six storeys. This would still be six times smaller than some of the largest rockets ever made, as high as 110 metres.

His grander plan, however, is to launch rockets from locations nearer to Singapore.

“Being close to the equator is very, very helpful in launching a rocket. It can go into any kind of orbit. (It) means you can get into any kind of market niche,” says the founder of Equatorial Space Systems.

Compared with the polar regions, an equatorial launch would also save fuel, as the surface at the equator moves faster, giving a rocket an extra push.

“We don’t have much land in Singapore … but there’s a lot of sea. And sea launching has also been done for a number of years,” notes Gwozdz.

“All you have to do is take a barge, retrofit it a little bit, install some extra equipment, and you can use it.”

The ideal location to him would be the Indian Ocean, “because we won’t be overflying anybody’s territory”. He is also looking at the South China Sea, “not very far from the coastline of Johor”.

“We’re currently exploring the possibility of conducting launch operations from that site,” he says, while noting that co-ordination with Malaysia and also Indonesia is “absolutely necessary” in any rocket launch.

Space is becoming a ground for doing business

He thinks it is worth investing in sending a rocket to space, because “in 20 years’ time, a country with no sovereign launch capability will be … like a country that doesn’t have its own airline”.

“Why should we invest in pretty (much) anything, in Changi Airport in the first place?” he adds. “Space is becoming a ground for doing business, on top of the exploration of more lofty ideas of course.”


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Survey confirms the world order is shifting, but

China can still learn lessons from America

Tom Fowdy

is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

A US-led world order is still preferred by more countries than a Chinese one, says a new survey. However, disillusionment with Washington has risen across the globe due to its military adventurism and handling of Covid.

One of the dominant themes of the 21st century has been the return of ‘great power’ politics. The contest for global supremacy between the United States and China. This battle heated up under Donald Trump, and has continued under Joe Biden. Both are eager to restore US primacy against the perceived challenge from Beijing.

But what do other countries make of it all? Do they prefer an American-led world order, or a Chinese one? Or is the answer more complex, with both countries having appealing qualities?

A comprehensive new survey from the Eurasia Group Foundation, ‘Modeling Democracy’ delivers some fascinating insights, with people in Brazil, China, Egypt, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland and Russia offering their opinions.

The survey asked probing questions about how they felt about their country’s relationships with the US and China respectively. About the ideals of democracy and other related issues. Perhaps unsurprisingly, support for American leadership continued to heavily outweigh backing for a China for a number of reasons. Yet that did not hide an evidence of growing disillusionment with the US and falling support. Particularly when it comes to what is considered American ‘hard power’.

In China itself, negative perceptions of the US more than doubled, amid general disenchantment with an American-led world order. This is perhaps to be expected, given the scale of hostility Washington has shown against Beijing in the past few years Especially after the Covid-19 pandemic and everything that followed.

Confident and emboldened China

Yet the survey also recognises what many have described as an increasingly confident and emboldened China. The pandemic itself was arguably a turning point. In that China overcame it successfully – while the West lingered in chaos. By avoiding economic decline and introducing the world’s fastest vaccination drive, with more than 500 million doses distributed. It’s no surprise, then, that Chinese people are increasingly confident in their own system and model.

This has not been lost on the rest of the world. The survey shows America’s response to the pandemic has had an influence on popular perceptions of that nation. People who thought the US had handled it poorly 27% more likely to prefer a China-led world order than people who thought it had handled it well.

Other factors credited for Beijing’s appeal included China “sets a good example for national development”. “Does not interfere in the politics of my country”“Can provide my country with economic investment” and “values economic and political stability over individual freedoms”.

And the survey noted that “discontent with both American military adventurism and America’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic appears to be a boon to China’s soft power and public diplomacy.”

US has suffered a credibility problem

There is little doubt that the US has suffered a credibility problem. However, it would be misleading to say its appeal has been lost, and its inherent ‘soft power’ is still a strength. Even if the legacy of Trump has damaged global perceptions, many respondents said they preferred an “American-led world”. Because of the US’ economic benefits, its stance on democracy and human rights, and its emphasis on freedom, and, as with China, that it’s a good example of national development.

This was particularly dominant in regional countries where people look up to the US, such as Brazil and Mexico. But also in Nigeria and India. Yet what was most surprising is that skeptical views of America’s democracy stemmed from longstanding allies such as Germany and Japan – established democracies themselves.

The findings have significant implications for how we should understand the battle for supremacy between the US and China. Firstly, America has suffered some fallout, but it continues to appeal in many respects, despite its military exploits. Biden’s main task is to restore an image of American confidence, credibility and resilience in the aftermath of the pandemic and Trump.

China is seen as an alternative for many things the US does not offer. With respect to economics and sovereignty, which matter to many countries. Yet, as a general rule, Beijing is not yet seen as an all-round global leader.

“Might does not make right” lesson

This suggests that, while China has a role to play, an effort by Beijing to fundamentally overturn the values of the international system would not be popular, other than in certain nations, such as Russia and Egypt.

However, this hasn’t prevented Beijing becoming more confident in the belief that its model of governance is more effective than Washington’s. Perhaps the biggest lesson for it to learn is that America’s ‘soft power’ is worth replicating and ‘might does not make right’. Arguably, US movies, culture and imagery continue to wield more power in shaping its role around the world than do attempted regime changes, wars and other aggressive behaviours. If China is to push harder, it needs ‘soft power’ above all.

HyPower Lab leads hydrogen drone revolution

South Korean firm envisions the drones being used for parcel delivery, agriculture, freight and transportation

By DAVE MAKICHUK

Hydrogen fuel cell technology (HFCT) is expanding rapidly in many sectors.

For example, Volvo and Daimler have now partnered to speed up the transition away from diesel trucks and towards fuel cell electric vehicles in the European Union. Hydrogen-powered trains are now running in Germany.

BMW Group recently announced plans to unveil a limited series hydrogen fuel cell SUV in 2022. French aerospace giant Airbus is investing heavily in mature fuel cell propulsion systems for the zero-emission aviation market. 

Well, get ready for the newest twist — hydrogen-powered drones.

Not only that, but commercial drones, making deliveries and transporting people.

According to a report in FreightWaves.com, a South Korean-based hydrogen company, in concert with Russian researchers, has announced it will work to commercialize a hydrogen fuel cell drone.

Hypower Lab claims that using fuel cells can increase the flying time of a drone more than four times over traditional lithium-ion batteries — a major advantage.

It also envisions the drones being used for parcel delivery, agriculture, freight and even passenger transportation.

The R&D firm is working with the fuel cell research center under the Institute of Problems of Chemical Physics (IPCP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the report said.

Yury Dobrovlsky, who leads the IPCP RAS research center, said the combination of Russian hydrogen fuel cell technology and Korean artificial intelligence technology will lead to mass production of the drone at competitive prices.

Developing drones for multiple applications

“We will lead the popularization of drone aircraft in the delivery drone commercialization market that needs around 3 million commercial drones in 2025 by establishing the hydrogen fuel cell mass production system exclusively for drones in South Korea,” he said.

The companies will work to develop drones for multiple applications in both Russia and South Korea, the report said.

The drone, which has a flight time of over three hours, Hypower said, features a 12-liter fuel canister with 4.8 hours of battery life.

Hypower is not the only company working on hydrogen-powered drones.

Doosan Mobility Innovation (DMI) announced it too had successfully tested a hydrogen-powered drone in a humanitarian delivery, the report said.

In February, DMI said it would seek European Union approval for its hydrogen fuel cell powerpack for drones later this year. The pack provides 2.6 kilowatts of power for two hours of flight time.

DMI plans to sell its product in Europe, Korea, the US and China.

A hydrogen transport cylinder

To help solve the problem of transporting hydrogen to drones, Intelligent Energy, a UK-based company, has developed a hydrogen transport cylinder — the IE-Soar — that features a high-pressure valve, the report said.

The valve is a key enabler and will make it simple for customers to get their full cylinders where they need them and ready to use, company officials said.

Currently, the legal transport of hydrogen in Europe and the US is limited.

“We know our fuel cells are the ideal choice for UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) operators requiring longer flight time,” Andy Kelly, head of UAV product development at Intelligent Energy, said.

“However, it is important that we support [these efforts] with the peripherals required to get operational. This valve is a key enabler and will make it simple for our customers to get their full cylinders where they need them and ready to use.”

Hydrogen is combined in the fuel cell with oxygen from the air to produce electricity; as long as hydrogen fuel is provided to the cell, the battery generates power.

This makes them valuable for long-range missions such as gathering aerial data or performing long-range deliveries and inspections, or for applications requiring larger drones and payloads.

Hydrogen batteries also work well in extreme cold weather, can be refueled in minutes and don’t emit greenhouse gasses like long-range, gas-powered drones do.

The Hycopter drone features a 12V payload power and an open bay that can carry up to six-pounds of additional equipment like a hi-res camera in gusty winds. Credit: Courtesy HES Energy.

 

Many hurdles remain however.

Around the world, hydrogen fueling stations currently are few and far between, Inside Unmanned Systems reported.

According to the US Department of Energy, the US has just 44 publicly accessible hydrogen fueling stations and 42 of them are in California. Eighty-four of Europe’s 175-plus stations are in Germany.

The transportation of full, UAV-compatible, hydrogen cylinders is not permitted in Europe or the United States — they must be filled at hydrogen fueling stations, which are sparse.

The scarcity has impacted the time and cost of using hydrogen fuel cells in drone operations.

Intelligent Energy hopes its value can resolve key distribution issues for getting hydrogen to the drones for fueling.

“The next logical step is to get them delivered directly to our customers,” Kelly added. “We want it to be as straightforward as ordering barbecue gas and getting empty cylinders collected.”

HES Energy has also introduced a new, industrial-grade multi-rotor drone that aims to address this significant shortcoming, HiConsumption.com reported.

The new Hycopter is a hydrogen-powered six-propeller drone system that utilizes HES Energy’s innovative 1300W fuel cells to prolong flight duration to nearly three and a half hours — which is almost five times as long as a traditional industrial drone.

The 140g pressure regulated system has three different hydrogen storage options and acts as a platform for high-precision observation systems to remain in use for extended periods of time.

It features a 12V payload power and an open bay that can carry up to six-pounds of additional equipment like a hi-res camera in 20 mph winds.

Sources: FreightWaves.com, InsideUnmanned Systems.comDoosanMobility.comHi Consumption.com

The secrets of the newest Il-114-300

Its construction uses modern composite materials, so it is much lighter and more economical, including new powerful Russian engines

On April 7, at the aircraft plant in Lukhovitsy near Moscow, the second prototype of the Il-114-300 was presented. This new turboprop aircraft is an upgraded version of the Il-114 and is intended for regional transportation. Its construction uses modern composite materials, so it is much lighter and more economical, including new powerful Russian engines.

IL-114-300 is already called an air minibus. It is modern, safe, but also unpretentious in maintenance at any airfield, even if there is a difficult short runway. Hundreds of regional airfields need the Il-114-300, which will replace the obsolete An-24 and An-26 aircraft. The main task is to connect remote settlements with regional centers.

“The main thing for regional aerodromes is that this aircraft has a minimum clearance. Here you can get to everything without special airfield equipment. The plane also has its own built-in ladder, through which all 68 people can climb. The Il-114-300 can carry up to 7 tons at a time, “Zvezda’s correspondent Alexei Koshkin said.

Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Yuri Borisov, together with the leadership of the United Aircraft Corporation, boarded a prototype aircraft and talked to test pilots right in the cockpit, where all the instruments are located on five modern LCD monitors. 

“For 30 years we have not made such aircraft. The market is waiting for something, ”Borisov said.

The Deputy Prime Minister also examined the production facilities of the enterprise and the IL-114-300 final assembly shop. There he was also presented with a second prototype aircraft, the assembly of which is proceeding according to the approved deadlines. This model has an updated airframe. It is being assembled using serial technologies, just as all the planes that will go to carry passengers and goods in the regions will be built.

Mass production expected to start in 2023

“We expect that from 2023 the aircraft will enter the series. The production capacity of this workshop is designed for at least 12 aircraft per year. The aircraft has chances in terms of export potential. It can be useful both in India and Iran, ”the Deputy Prime Minister said.

This new turboprop aircraft will withstand temperatures ranging from +45 to -55 degrees. According to the chief designer, the Il-114-300 is also super-safe.

“It has a modern flight and navigation complex for flights in adverse weather conditions, it has modern digital control engines. There is a new air conditioning system on it, ”said Sergei Ganin, chief designer of Il PJSC.

The new aircraft is being created from domestic components. Most of the equipment systems were developed by Rostec enterprises.

“Any employee can come up here, look at a 3D model in order to control or get some initial data for performing work on the plane,” said Alexander Fokin, head of the final assembly shop.

The first prototype Il-114-300 took off for the first time on December 16, 2020 at the airfield in Zhukovsky. The flight task included checking the operating modes of the power plant, the stability and controllability of the aircraft, as well as the functioning of its systems. Flight tests are still ongoing. Two more aircraft will join the test program. During the assembly of this aircraft, the cooperation of various enterprises of the United Aviation Corporation is being worked out.