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ISRO To Conduct The Most Crucial Test Of Gaganyaan Mission This Month

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is getting ready to perform an important test during a spaceflight. This test is all about making sure that the system to rescue the crew in case of an emergency works properly. It’s a crucial safety measure for India’s first-ever human spaceflight mission ‘Gaganyaan’

The Crew Escape System (CES) is made to rapidly detach the crew module from the launch vehicle if something goes wrong during liftoff.

SEE ALSO: Countdown Begins: ISRO’s Gaganyaan Mission Achieves Milestone With Engines Test; All You Need To Know

In the coming weeks, the first test flight of the TV-D1 vehicle will take place. This is the initial step of four emergency escape missions scheduled for the Gaganyaan program. After TV-D1, there will be another test flight called TV-D2, and then the first mission without humans on board known as LVM3-G1

The Crew Escape System (CES) is seen as the most important part of the Gaganyaan mission. The upcoming test is intended to confirm that the CES works well in various situations. This test is planned to happen in October of 2023.

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram is in charge of getting everything ready for the test. According to VSSC Director S Unnikrishnan Nair, all the parts of the vehicle are now at the launch site in Sriharikota and they are currently putting everything together.

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Five Asteroids In 3 Days! A Barrage Of Space Rocks Are Heading Toward Earth This Week

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Five asteroids of varying sizes are set for a close encounter with Earth in the next two days. NASA’s Center For Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) has revealed that the smallest of them measures between roughly 4.5 to 10 meters in diameter whereas the biggest of them is about 32 to 73 meters.

The data has revealed that the smallest – 2008 LD – will be approximately 29.5 lakh km from Earth at the time of the fly by. It is travelling at a speed more than 16,000 km per hour.

Orbit of asteroid 2024 JV17. Image: NASA

The biggest of the five – the 2024 JV17 – will be approximately 66 lakh km away at the time of the closest approach while travelling at over 30,000 km per hour. Both these space rocks will fly past Earth on May 28.

ALSO SEE: Like Dinosaurs, Humans Will Become Extinct If A Single Asteroid Collides; ‘Asteroid Rush’ Trailer Proves Just That

The other asteroids – the 2021 LV (between 7-15 meters wide) and 2024 JG (between 22-50 meters) will get close to our planet on May 29.

Orbit of asteroid JO16. Image: NASA

There will be a close encounter today as well when the asteroid 2024 JO16 flies past Earth. According to the CNEOS data, it will be about 30 lakh km from our planet and will be travelling at more than 30,000 km per hour.

As the data suggests, there is no need to worry since the asteroids will fly from a safe distance from our planet. Besides, their size except for a few relatively big ones is also not a cause for concern.

ALSO SEE: Lack Of Earth’s Resources Can Be Fulfilled By Asteroids – And A US Firm Wants To Mine Them

(Image: Unsplash)



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Paytm warns of job cuts as losses swell after RBI clampdown

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Indian digital payments platform Paytm warned of job cuts on Wednesday after reporting that its net loss widened in the fourth quarter as it grapples with a recent regulatory clampdown.

One97 Communications, Paytm’s parent, said it expects to cut employee expenses and pare down its annual staff costs by $48 million to $60 million.

The company, once the most valuable Indian startup, reported a net loss of $66.1 million in the fourth quarter ended March 2024, compared to a loss of $20.11 million a year earlier. Revenue declined about 3% to $272.4 million from $280.4 million in the same period.

India’s central bank in February banned the company’s banking partner and sister company, Paytm Payments Bank, from conducting banking activity from March. That brought a sudden halt to Paytm’s slew of banking services, and the company was forced to ink new partnerships with other banks to keep many of those services running.

Paytm said it also took an impairment charge of $27.2 million related to its investment in Paytm Payments Bank in the quarter. In the quarter ending June this year, Paytm projected its revenue to be in the range of $180 million to $192 million.

In the full year ended March, Paytm’s revenue increased 25% to $1.19 billion from a year earlier, though higher payment processing charges, marketing costs, employee benefits charges and software cloud expenses weighed on its bottom line. As a result, net loss widened to $170 million from a loss of $213 million a year earlier.

Paytm’s results include “enough data points to suggest that the business is past the bottom in terms of payment volumes and user/merchant traction,” Bernstein analysts said in a note to clients. “Though from a financial metrics perspective, 1QFY25 is likely to be the bottom, as it would reflect the full impact of the lower steady state (vs. 2 months impact in 4QFY24).”

The analysts, however, cautioned that Paytm’s payment GMV has dropped by about 20% and the company’s expectations for its payment processing margin has also declined, which together “translates to a near 50% blow to the payment margins.” They estimated, however, that Paytm’s merchant lending volumes picked up in March and April — a clear sign of revival.

Paytm had about $1.03 billion in the bank as of March 31. The company’s shares were down about 1% on Wednesday afternoon to ₹349.20, giving it a market cap of $2.64 billion. Paytm went public in 2021 at a valuation of $20 billion.

“I am happy to share that we have successfully transitioned our core payment business from PPBL to other partner banks. This move de-risks our business model and also opens up new opportunities for long-term monetization, given our platform’s strength around customer and merchant engagement,” said Paytm’s founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, in the company’s annual shareholder letter.

“It has been possible in such a short period of time with extensive support from the Regulator, NPCI, Bank partners and our committed team mates. The unwavering commitment of our government and regulator to support innovation and financial inclusion, keeps us true to our mission and committed to our long-term sustainable growth opportunity,” he added.



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Immigrant banking platform Majority secures $20M following 3x revenue growth

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It can be challenging to pick up and move to a new country, made even more challenging if you are not used to the style of banking in that particular country.

The increase of immigrants to the United States — some 50 million total foreign-born people live in the U.S. now, according to immigration think tank Center for Immigration Studies — presents an opportunity for startups to tailor financial services to this population. Companies like Comun, Maza, Alza and Welcome Technologies, for example, help Latino immigrants open bank accounts. 

Magnus Larsson, himself an immigrant from Sweden, ran into similar problems and created Miami-based Majority in 2019 to address them. For a $5.99 per month membership fee, migrants can open a bank account and get a debit card, community discounts, low-cost international money transfers and discounted international calling. There is also a peer-to-peer pay feature.

Accounts don’t require a Social Security number or U.S. documentation, just an international government-issued ID and proof of U.S. residence. They also don’t have overdraft fees or minimum balance requirements. In addition, users have access to Majority’s “Advisor Program,” a network of trained support staff nationwide, who are immigrants themselves.

“For many customers, we are the primary relationship they have when it comes to their financial services, and services to connect back to their own country,” Larsson told TechCrunch. “Most migrants are hit by a lot of predatory fees. When it comes to financial services, remittances and moving money cross-border, you pay a fixed fee, but we are taking away the other fees.”

Magnus Larsson, founder and CEO of Majority.
Image Credits: Majority

Majority’s approach has caught on: Over the past year, the company grew its revenue three times while the number of users doubled. In April, Majority reached $40 million in annual recurring revenue and $200 million monthly in new deposits, Larsson said. Overall, transaction volume grew five times, while remittances grew four times in 2023. Remittances are how someone in the U.S. sends money to someone across boarders, like to family members back home.

TechCrunch has followed Majority’s growth journey since it closed a $19 million seed round in 2021. The company has since gone on to raise a $27 million Series A and several tranches of Series B funding, most recently a $9.75 million round in 2023, which included backing from existing investors Valar Ventures and Heartcore Capital. 

All of that growth led Larsson to consider raising additional funding to help pay for more growth. Of the $20 million in capital raised, $12.5 million is equity, another Series B tranche. The round was led by fintech founders including Klarna co-founder Victor Jacobsson and Swedish serial entrepreneur Hjalmar Winbladh. Valar Ventures, Heartcore Capital and another existing investor Avid Ventures are back to participate, and Zettle co-founders Magnus Nilsson and Jacob de Geer also participated. 

The rest of the money was $7.5 million in debt financing from an unnamed bank. In total, Majority has raised $90 million in equity funding to date. Larsson also declined to give the company’s valuation, but did say it was a flat round.

In addition, the company recently hired Abhi Pabba to serve as chief risk officer. Pabba previously served as Apple’s manager of credit risk for the Apple Card. He will support Majority’s upcoming product expansion efforts. 

With the new funding, Larsson intends to continue developing products, including helping users establish a credit score and gain access to credit products. The company is also building products for redundancies to better manage risk.

The recent funding is also the final step toward profitability, Larsson said.

“That’s always been the aim, and could come as soon as next year,” he said. “We are in that stage where we know our customers well, we know that they love our product and we know how to scale this market very well. What we’re doing is making people thrive and succeed better and faster. It’s something that is needed, and going forward, we are evaluating how we can build this for 300 million people.”



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