snowdon writes: "The UNSW solar car, Jaycar Sunswift III, set off yesterday in an attempt to break the world record for a west-to-east crossing of Australia: about 4000km. The previous record stands at 8.5 days, set by Dick Smith and Aurora in 1993, and the team is attempting to complete the journey in less than 6. The car is one of the most advanced ever built, and is the result of several years of undergrad and postgrad volunteer labour. Features of interest: the car's design was refined by performing simulations on a large (80 PC) cluster for three months; the car is constructed almost exclusively using carbon fibre (including suspension and steering components); the car's control, power and telemetry electronics are custom-built and run both Linux and L4/Iguana. You can track the team's progress over the next few days at www.sunswift.com."
Quacking Duck writes: Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched it's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C7) rocket from the Srikharikota launch-pad. The rocket carried 4 satellites into space, 2 Indian and one each from Argentina and Indonesia. Interestingly, one of ISRO's payloads, Space Capsule Recovery Experiment (SRE-1), expected to return to Earth 13 days after launch, will be the first test of its re-entry mechanism. This is a step towards ISRO's ambitious goal of designing and building a cheap reusable launch vehicle. ISRO is also planning a manned mission to the moon, Chandrayan-1, which is expected to use a modified PSLV rocket which was used for this launch. This successful launch comes close on the heels of the failed July 2006 GSLV lauch which had ended in an expensive fireworks display over the Bay of Bengal. Another GSLV launch is planned for later this year.