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MOD NOTE: Article by Gessler for a good intro to Indian Space launcher history:


================================

By Elizabeth Howell

An artist's depiction of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter studying the moon's surface.

An artist's depiction of the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter studying the moon's surface.
(Image: © ISRO)

India's Chandrayaan-2 lunar orbiter has finished one year and 4,400 trips around the moon — and the spacecraft is just getting started, Indian space agency officials said Thursday (Aug. 20).

"The spacecraft is healthy and performance of subsystems are normal," the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced in a statement Thursday. "There is adequate onboard fuel to remain operational for about seven years."

The ambitious spacecraft has been busy since arriving in lunar orbit on Aug. 20, 2019. First, Chandrayaan-2 attempted to deploy the first Indian-led lunar lander, called Vikram. While that lander failed to touch down safely, the lessons learned from the attempt will inform the design of upcoming missions, ISRO has said. Meanwhile, the Chandrayaan-2 orbiter has continued its work above the moon.


After a year of operations, Chandrayaan-2 has mapped nearly 1.5 million square miles (4 million square kilometers) of terrain, according to ISRO. One area of interest was the Balmer-Kapteyn basin region, which includes a "light plains" deposit of lunar soil, or regolith, on top of an older, basaltic surface. This zone shows the changes that occur after meteorites slam into the moon's surface; nearby areas have a clear impact crater system that generated the fresher shower of dust.


Chandrayaan-2 also spotted small-scale tectonic landforms called lunar lobate scarps. These structures are thought to be young features on the moon, but are often hard to detect due to their small size, according to ISRO. The agency highlighted one that the spacecraft imaged in October 2019 in the Mare Fecunditatis region. NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has also spotted such small faults, which show the gradual contraction of the lunar surface as the moon cools from its formation some 4.5 billion years ago.


More generally, India's spacecraft regularly gathers high-definition imagery and science data concerning the moon's surface, which assist in interpreting geologic features — as well as in figuring out future landing spots for anyone designing a lunar mission. NASA plans to land people on the moon in 2024, and other agencies are also considering moon-landing programs, both crewed and robotic, in the coming years.


Orbital radars on Chandrayaan-2 are continuing to gather observations of lunar water ice at the poles — a possible resource for future missions. Mission officials are working with archival data gathered by LRO and Chandrayaan-1 and looking to better understand where and in what form water ice can be found on the moon, according to the statement.


"The first-year observations from Chandrayaan-2 demonstrate the in-orbit performance of payloads, strongly indicating its ability to contribute significantly to lunar science," ISRO added. "The anticipated long life of this orbiter can contribute much to the current resurgence of interest among the global scientific community for a sustained presence on the moon."


Some of the other investigations the spacecraft has performed include detecting signatures of argon-40 (confirming observations during the Apollo moon program of the 1960s and 1970s) and mapping the mineralogy of certain regions of the moon, such as Mare Tranquillitatis, an area that includes the first human moon landing site, where Apollo 11 touched down in 1969.


Chandrayaan-2 even indirectly monitors solar activity, providing additional observations for scientists trying to figure out how space weather affects Earth. On May 29, for example, ISRO reported that its spacecraft caught the sun shooting out the second-strongest flare of 2020 to date when Chandrayaan-2 captured secondary X-rays from fluorescence on the moon, as the lunar surface reflected the solar activity.


In January, India committed to launching a successor mission to Chandrayaan-2, called Chandrayaan-3, although that mission's timeline hasn't been confirmed yet. India's first moon mission Chandrayaan-1 launched in October 2008 and ended in August 2009.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.
 
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With Focus On Thorough Testing, ISRO To Create Artificial Lunar Craters To Test Chandrayaan-3 Lander's Sensors


In a bid to simulate the lunar surface on which the Chandrayaan-3 lander would land, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will be creating artificial moon craters later this year in Ullarthi Kavalu, Chllakere, which is around 215 km from Bengaluru, reports Times of India.

The Chandrayaan-3 mission is expected to be launched by the ISRO next year.

The Indian space agency has already called for tenders and the process for identifying a firm for all the civil works is likely to be completed by end of this month or early September, a source was quoted by ToI as saying.

The construction of the craters, which would be 10 m in diameter and have 3 m depth, would reportedly cost ISRO at least Rs 24.2 lakh.

“The lander’s sensors will undergo a crucial test — Lander Sensor Performance Test (LSPT) — which will involve us flying the sensors on an aircraft over the artificial lunar site and see how efficient they are in guiding the lander,” a scientist was quoted as saying.

India's third lunar mission, like the Chandrayaan-2, will also be highly-autonomous and will use multiple sensors including those designed to help the lander asses its height from the landing spot, decide velocity and keep the craft away from boulders and uneven surface.

During the test, the ISRO aircraft will descend from a height of 7 km over the artificial lunar surface. The sensors onboard the aircraft are expected to display their ability to guide the craft once it descends to a height of 2 km.

“The focus on thorough testing is higher than Chandrayaan-2 this time. We are even looking at testing a full-fledged lander at ISITE (Isro Satellite Integration and Test Establishment) in Bengaluru. As of today, we are not sure how feasible that would be, but the thinking is there," another scientist said.
 

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Archive for space news and developements in India including ISRO and private players.
 

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ISRO back in mission mode, allows 50% staff to work at Sriharikota rocket launch station


CHENNAI: Not letting the coronavirus pandemic derail the nation's space programme, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had decided to go ahead with projects by relaxing the complete lockdown at the Sriharikota rocket launch station. All administrative officers and senior staff associated with scientific and technical work have been asked to attend duties on all working days.

The New Indian Express has accessed the fresh working modalities issued by Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-Shar) Controller V Kumbakarnan, according to which 50 per cent of employees will be working based on a roster system prepared by respective division heads.

"Employees residing in SDSC-Shar housing colonies at Sriharikota and Sullurpeta shall attend the duties. Operation and maintenance contract employees residing in department colonies shall only be called for duties based on essentiality of work. Construction works shall continue as per prevailing arrangements," the circular reads.

Employees are also directed to inform the office, if they or any family member is undergoing a COVID-19 test and shall self-isolate till a conclusive test result is obtained. "Suppression of
information by any employee in this regard will be viewed seriously and action as deemed fit will be initiated as per extant rules," the authorities said.

People with underlying conditions (comorbidities) and undergoing treatment for these ailments before enforcement of the lockdown, upon production of medical prescription from the treating physician, persons with disabilities and pregnant women are exempted from the duty roster.

Attending mass gatherings prohibited

In a separate circular, the SDSC-Shar Controller has warned employees of stringent action after it was found that a majority of COVID-19 cases were the result of employees attending some kind of mass gathering, including marriages, funerals, house warming ceremonies etc.

"Most employees did not give any information about attending such functions. Leaving headquarters to attend such mass gatherings is one of the major factors for the spread of COVID-19 in SDSC-Shar. In order to contain the spread, all employees are advised to desist from participating in functions. As per CCS (Conduct) Rules, 1964, prior permission of competent authority has to be taken by the government servants before leaving the station/headquarters. Therefore, the employees are advised to comply with the rules. In case the employee did not obtain permission and attend any kind of function and was
later diagnosed as COVID-19 positive, action as deemed fit shall be taken for hiding the information," Kumbakarnan said.
 

Gautam

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It all very quiet here. Let me add a few good pics from past ISRO missions. The pics are not in any particular order.

Pics from GSLV MkIII-D2/GSAT-29 Mission launched off at 5:08 PM IST on November 14, 2018 from the Second Launch Pad(SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
2liftoff.jpg

1liftoff.jpg
1599478523611.png


Long exposure shot of the PSLV-C41 carrying IRNSS-1I navigation satellite at 04:04 AM (IST) on April 12, 2018 from the First Launch Pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre(SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. Notice the gap in the trailing light ? That is caused by the first stage separation.
1599476183345.png


Prototype of the Chandrayaan-2 lunar rover being tested in an ISRO facility. The "Pragyan" rover that was actually sent to the Moon was based on this prototype. Of course the poor bugger didn't survive the landing.
1599476428455.png


Crew Escape System-Technology Demonstrator flight tested as a part of the PAD Abort Test on 05 July 2018. Here the crew module has parachutes deployed and is descending down to the Bay of Bengal. These tests are a crucial part of Indian Human Spaceflight Program(HSP) named Gaganyaan.
crew_module_landing_2.jpg


Photo of RLV Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) from it's first test launch in 2016. The final product of the RLV programme will be a craft that could be up to six times the size of the TD.
1599477569821.png


The high thrust version of the Vikas Engine under ground test for a duration of 195 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu on July 15, 2018. The high thrust version produces 6% more thrust giving us 70 kgs of additional payload gain. The engine was tested to produce 804.5 KN but is limited to 800 KN in practical use.
hot_test.jpg


Rare hi-res image of ISRO's Compact Antenna Test Facility in Bangalore for testing RF components:
1599478143986.png
 

Nilgiri

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It all very quiet here.

Yep, membership is at early phase (forum has just started) and also corona-crisis has led to shuttering of lot of news in such sectors for India.

Both will now increase positively with time, let us hope.
 

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Recently many private startups in India are taking to the space industry. Most of these private companies are doing work in small satellite lifting capabilities. Larger payload capacity will come at a later stage. One such start up is "Agnikul Cosmos". Almost all members of the company are former ISRO engineers, some even headed ISRO's critical programs like the GSLV launch vehicles design.

This is their first rocket named Agnibaan. It is a small satellite launch vehicle.
1599546747033.png


Interestingly, the rocket will not be fired from a space port or launchpad but rather from a truck mounted launcher called "Dhanush". This option was chosen initially because the Department of Space(DoS), under which the ISRO works, did not provide private companies access to ISRO's launch facilities and related infrastructure. Thus private companies had to make their own.

After a lot of debates, discussions & lobbying to Delhi, the Govt. of India(GoI) recently instructed the DoS to open space infrastructure to private companies. Now with access to ISRO's facilities will the company still need/want a truck mounted launcher is not known.
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They are making the entire rocket with LOX/Kerosene semi-cryogenic engines. And the engines will be 100% 3D printed. Here is an engine nozzle just after 3D printing:
1599546798133.png


The first stage of the rocket will have 4 / 5 / 6 or 7 engines. An optional third “baby” stage might be available for select missions. There are 5 different configurations available. They claim that they can get the rocket from Payload integration to launch in just 2 weeks.

They also plan on manufacturing the rocket in India and then sending it abroad to assemble & launch from foreign launch ports. They already have 10+ agreements with other companies from other countries. Most recent with an Italian company for launching from Italy. They aim to get 25 agreements signed in total.
 

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Another space start up Skyroot Aerospace is developing a family of launch vehicles called "Vikram". Named after Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian Space Program, the series of launch vehicles are for the small satellite market. The vehicles will feature a mix of solid & cryogenic engines. They are developing a Methalox engine too.

All launchers together :
1599548218921.png


Vikram I :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .

1599548162238.png


Vikram II :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .


1599548173264.png



Vikram III :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .


1599548203151.png


Recently they bench tested a upper stage liquid engine of the Vikram I rocket named "Raman". Named after Indian nobel prize winning physicist C. V. Raman. The engine uses hypergolic fuels UDMH and N2O4. The engine has a 3D printed fuel injector and the nozzle throat is made of a Metal Matrix Composite(MMC). It produces 850N vacuum thrust with multi-start capability.

 

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ISRO Set to Launch Chandrayaan-3 Early Next Year; Spacecraft to Carry Lander and Rover


At a Glance
  • Chandrayaan 3 will not carry an orbiter—but will include a lander and a rover to study the lunar surface.
  • Despite the apparent hard landing of the lander, the Chandrayaan-2 mission is believed to be 95-98% successful.
  • The Chandrayaan 1 mission had provided conclusive evidence for the presence of ice water on the poles.
India’s Moon mission successor—Chandrayaan-3—may be launched somewhere in early 2021, as per the announcement from the Minister of State for the Department of Space, Jitendra Singh on Sunday.
The third lunar mission was earlier scheduled for 2020, but the ongoing pandemic and the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus has stalled many of Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) preparations for Chandrayaan 3. Earlier in June, the ISRO had pushed the uncrewed Gaganyaan mission also to a later date.

In its second attempt, the Indian space agency is aiming to achieve a soft landing on the south pole of the lunar surface, which is least explored to date. Unlike its predecessor, Chandrayaan 3 will not carry an orbiter—but will include a lander and a rover to study the lunar surface.

In one of the earlier announcements this year by ISRO, K Sivan had said, "The Chandrayaan-2 Orbiter will be used for communicating with the lander and rover of Chandrayaan-3 during their mission on the moon."


Moreover, reports suggest ISRO scientists will also be considering incorporating improvements that experts have suggested after analysing what went wrong in the previous mission. One such priority could be ‘strengthening the legs of the lander’ so as to improve its chances of survival in the event of another crash.

On September 7, 2019, the lander Vikram crashed on the surface while attempting a soft-land on the Earth’s only natural satellite Moon. As per ISRO, the lander’s trajectory began to deviate at about 2.1 km above the lunar surface, and the mission control subsequently lost all communication with the lander. The agency failed to re-establish the contact despite persistent efforts for several weeks.

Despite the apparent hard landing of the lander, the Chandrayaan-2 mission is believed to be 95-98% successful as all the instruments onboard the orbiter are functioning well and sending back data to ISRO. The mission has helped scientists to study the lunar atmosphere, topography, composition and other details.

A decade ago, the Chandrayaan 1 mission had provided conclusive evidence for the presence of ice water on the poles, which is devoid of sunlight. Moreover, recently the data from the mission was also used to examine the presence of rust or hematite on the lunar surface.

On the other hand, ISRO continues to rigorously work on one of its most anticipated missions, Gaganyaan—the first-ever human space mission. The training of astronauts has been going on in Russia and a couple of uncrewed precursor missions are likely to take off next year.
 

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ISRO doubles down on startups and MSME for space technology — launches SEED program and reviews over 200 applications under ARISE mission
 

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Corona has totally ruined one whole year of space missions for ISRO. We couldn't do a single mission this year. We might see ISRO's first rocket launch for 2020 in November with the upcoming PSLV mission. Even that is not guaranteed. ISRO was planning to do 36 missions in 2020-21. Well 2020 is almost gone. I don't see how we will meet those targets.
1600525290809.png


The worst part is the GISAT & RISAT series are military imaging satellites that would greatly enhance our space based imagery and reconnaissance capability. Something that is vital with the situation on the China border. GISAT-1, the 1st satellite of the GISAT series was scheduled to be launched on March 5. The satellite was ready too, then came COVID-19. This is the GISAT-1, look at the size of that camera tube.
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GISAT1.jpg

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They even assembled the PSLV launch vehicle for this mission. It was good to go until Delhi announced a lockdown. They should've gone ahead with the launch despite the COVID.
yrn_1866.jpg


MicroSATs are for experimental payloads like optical, laser, quantum communications etc. RISAT-2BR1 & R2 are the replacements of the RISAT-2B. It more expansion that replacement. GSAT-12R is a communications satellite & a replacement of the GSAT-12.

The only project that hasn't slowed down by COVID is the NASA-ISRO joint project NISAR. This is a civilian science project, not for military use. The satellite is being tested in a NASA facility. At US$1.5 billion, NISAR is likely to be the most expensive and most sophisticated Earth-imaging satellite till date featuring dual band Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs). The S-band SAR radar is from ISRO & the L-band SAR from NASA. The satellite bus is also from ISRO and it will be launched from ISRO's GSLV MK-III. Expected launch date is Sept 2022.
NISAR2.jpg

NISAR1.jpg
 

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Corona has totally ruined one whole year of space missions for ISRO. We couldn't do a single mission this year. We might see ISRO's first rocket launch for 2020 in November with the upcoming PSLV mission. Even that is not guaranteed. ISRO was planning to do 36 missions in 2020-21. Well 2020 is almost gone. I don't see how we will meet those targets.

Yes they should have treated ISRO as critical sector and continued with necessary best-practices known at the time involving such critical sectors (like military + health workers etc at same time)

The lockdown+sequestering definitely went on too long especially once what the mortality rates were heavily influenced by age/underlying condition.
 

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Another space start up Skyroot Aerospace is developing a family of launch vehicles called "Vikram". Named after Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the father of Indian Space Program, the series of launch vehicles are for the small satellite market. The vehicles will feature a mix of solid & cryogenic engines. They are developing a Methalox engine too.

All launchers together :
View attachment 1044

Vikram I :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .

View attachment 1040

Vikram II :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .


View attachment 1041


Vikram III :

PAYLOAD

225 kg to 500 km SSPO.
315 kg to 45º inclination 500 km LEO .


View attachment 1043

Recently they bench tested a upper stage liquid engine of the Vikram I rocket named "Raman". Named after Indian nobel prize winning physicist C. V. Raman. The engine uses hypergolic fuels UDMH and N2O4. The engine has a 3D printed fuel injector and the nozzle throat is made of a Metal Matrix Composite(MMC). It produces 850N vacuum thrust with multi-start capability.


After the hypergolic liquid engine, they have tested solid rockets recently :

 
Y

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WOW! Really amazing stuff. Congrats to all the engineers, staff and of course the people of India.
But I'm puzzled about something. I know it's not only India that does this, but how the hell do they 3D print rocket engine components?
Don't these components need to operate under very high pressure loads, at both super-cold cryogenic temperatures as well as smelter hot conditions?
I'm curious about what kind of 3D printers and materials they use for their "printed engines".
 

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WOW! Really amazing stuff. Congrats to all the engineers, staff and of course the people of India.
But I'm puzzled about something. I know it's not only India that does this, but how the hell do they 3D print rocket engine components?
Don't these components need to operate under very high pressure loads, at both super-cold cryogenic temperatures as well as smelter hot conditions?
I'm curious about what kind of 3D printers and materials they use for their "printed engines".
About 65% of the components we use in the space industry today is made out of non-traditional materials. Non-traditional as in not naturally occurring rather artificially made. Like say alloys, composites, polymers, carbon fibers etc. The fabrication method is just as important as the composition of the material.

I remember seeing a discussion in the Turkish Space Industry thread talking about collaboration with Ukraine to make filament wound propellant tank. The filament is presumably some kind of composite fiber. ISRO uses that too, so does DRDO and other Indian organizations. Different kind of filament and different pattern of winding, but the basic remains the same. People use it primarily for the weight saving, there are other benefits too. How does that work ? A single filament strand if dipped in a cryogenic or hypergolic propellent would immediately freeze or decay respectively. Yet the filament wound propellant tank hold together just fine. The answer in ISRO's case is mostly in the coatings used. ISRO uses some kind of coating on the insides of their hypergolic propellant tank. The corrosive propellent never comes in contact with the tank at all. Material sciences is a magical subject.:p Don't know what the do with cryogenic propellant tanks though, they don't like to talk about it.

When most people think of 3-D printing the image that comes to mind is plastic getting printed on a table. However, the tech is very adaptive and scalable. All you have to do is adapt to melting temperature of the material you want to print. For example, if melting temp of a plastic is say 400 degC, you need a laser that can create such temperature on exposure. A good enough Nd:YAG solid state laser will do the trick.

Similarly, if you want to print a metal/alloy with melting temp of 1800 degC, you need a laser that can create that temp. The problem with solid state lasers is that their amplifier crystals they will melt before reaching that temp. Gas lasers are humongous in size and not economically viable. The only option here is to use an electron beam gun with a vacuum. Vacuum is needed as otherwise an electron beam would ionise the air around it. I don't know about others, but in India electron beam guns use Tungsten as working material. The Americans were using Cadmium at one point, don't know if they still do.

You have to create a vacuum chamber with the metal/alloy powder sitting on a workbench at the bottom. Then the electron gun is pumped with a massive voltage (~100 kV), it will be lowered to a few mm from the powder. Then the gun fires, instantly melting and fusing the powder. As the electron beam moves the fused metal/alloy will instantly solidify. The beam control is done by a computer, no human intervention. Even from behind a thick polarized glass, staring at the electron beam directly for a few seconds will sting your eye. I am going off topic, sorry.

Since you mentioned 3-D printing here are some products ISRO uses made using 3-D printing :

This might be the first 3D printed RF component deployed by ISRO. This RF Feed Antenna has been deployed on the GSAT-19 communications satellite. Labelled "North-West Feed Cluster 2x2" designed by ISRO's Satellite Application Centre(SAC) & 3D printed by Wipro 3D. It is 320 mm tall with a wall thickness of 2mm.
IMG-5357.jpg


ISRO is currently testing a 3D printed Antenna Integrated Helix Feed. It is a part of a transmitter system & is used to amplify RF signals. It is made of AlSi10Mg alloy. Typically, manufacturing a helical structure creates a lot of material waste, this is why 3D printing is preferred.
img4 (2).jpg


These types of components suffer very low stress. They are mostly 3-D printed as they are needed to be made with high precision and cost is not a factor. 3-D printed components are also used in very high stress environments too. Like inside rocket engines. ISRO is currently doing component testing of a semi-cryogenic engine named SCE-200. The SCE-200 will produce a mind-numbing 2.03 Mega Newtons of thrust, with chamber pressures reaching up to 18 MPa.

Here is the LPFT straightener(right) & nozzle tip(left) made using Ti-6Al-4V alloy for the ISRO's SCE-200. The straightener channelises the flow coming into the pump. Initially it was made by investment casting which was rejected due to excessive porosity in the component, then 3D printing was adopted. The nozzle and straightener will be pumping cryogenic liquid oxygen(LOX) into the combustion chamber.
IMG-5361-e1538470875659.jpg

img17.jpg

img4.jpg


This is the Closed Impeller used in the fuel delivery system of the SCE-200 engine. It is made using AlSi10Mg alloy. Initially it was made using investment casting method. Like the LPFT straightener, this too had excessive porosity. Thus 3D printing was adopted. The fuel being a purified version of Kerosene.
img34.jpg

img4 (1).jpg
 
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