Nintendo releases three-part video series about that insanely good Zelda game

Nintendo shared on its YouTube channel three behind-the-scenes videos about Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Many thought the Nintendo Switch had a pretty thin launch lineup with Zelda: Breath of the Wild as the only big production. But anybody around you who owns a Switch will tell you that it’s an amazing game.

When you start playing Zelda, it’s hard to stop. It’s such a compelling universe that I’ve spent more time chasing that one thing at the top of the mountain instead of the main quest.

But the most fascinating aspect is that Nintendo doesn’t try to stop you. Very quickly, you learn a lot of different moves. You can then combine them and find your own solution to beat the toughest enemies.

The game doesn’t punish you for trying and it also doesn’t hold your hand to tell you how you’re supposed to play. It’s filled with a sense of mystery and discovery. That’s why I’ve been curious to see how the game was actually conceived.

So if you need a 30-minute break between two game sessions, here are a bunch of interviews from the development team behind Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Join us at the TC Include Pitch Practice on April 6 in Manhattan

To everyone in the five boroughs and beyond, mark your calendars: TechCrunch is set to take Manhattan like so many tech-obsessed Muppets. On April 6, the team will be launching our first TC Takes Manhattan event for an all-day techstravaganza, starting with the TC Include Interactive Pitch Practice at 5:30PM, at WeWork Grand Central.

The kickoff event will be a combination mixer and pitch practice aimed at helping female and underrepresented founders hone their pitching skills. The interactive panel will be facilitated by ELEVACAO CEO, chair and founding director Marisa Warren, who will be joined by a group of investors and TechCrunch writers.

The two-hour event will be focused on helping founders perfect the problem and solution elements of their pitch, while better defining their business models. Three founders will be selected at random for a chance to pitch to win tickets and a demo table at Disrupt New York in May. The Pitch Practice is being presented in conjunction with The ELEVACAO Foundation, a charity aimed at helping women entrepreneurs launch successful startups.

You can grab your tickets for the event right here.

 And hey, that’s only one of four events we’re holding the evening of April 6. We’ll be hosting concurrent pitch practices at WeWork’s Bryant Park and Times Square locations, along with a big tech-themed trivia night starting at 7PM at Stage 48. For a full list of events, check out the TechCrunch Takes Manhattan page.

Adobe’s Project Fleek connects marketers and social video influencers

Adobe is testing out a new product called Fleek, offering marketers a new way to recruit and manage video influencers for promotional campaigns.

Laura Williams Argilla, Adobe’s director of services and workflow for professional video, described Fleek as an extension of the social publishing tools that the company launched (in beta) back in November.

“Trying to solve some of the needs of creators, it was like peeling an onion — we’ll help them publish, help with metadata, help them better understand their platform, but as we dug in, we realized there were a lot more challenges in that space,” Argilla said. So as a next step, Adobe decided to try to improve the way these creators work with marketers.

With Fleek, after a marketer creates their campaign, they can browse a “talent marketplace” of different creators, which includes their reach across different demographic groups and on various video platforms like YouTube and Facebook. They can then reach out to those creators and get contracts signed directly through Fleek. The product will also predict the reach of a campaign based on the creators recruited, and then, of course, report on actual results.

Fleek Creator profile

While there are plenty of other places where marketers can try to recruit creators and influencers for these sorts of campaigns, Argilla said one of the big advantages to Fleek is the ability to “engage directly.” That doesn’t mean keeping middlemen like agents or multi-channel networks out of the process, but it does mean Fleek is a place where all the communication around a campaign can happen.

In other words, the goal is to avoid situations where, say, an agent is at home and gets a frantic text from the creator about what link they’re supposed to include in the video, or where a creator is trying to remember whether crucial information was included in an email or a Slack message or something else entirely.

“We’re trying to consolidate that all into one space,” Argilla said.

This announcement comes just a couple of days after Adobe made some big announcements from the stage of the Adobe Summit. This is a bit different — it’s a labs project being tested with a limited group of users, with the eventual goal of bringing a product to market if those tests go well.

Google Maps will let you share your location with friends and family for a specific period of time

Google Maps has today announced a new feature to allow you to share your location with others. While that might seem creepy, it’s not the first to add this type of functionality. Facebook tells you when a friend is nearby — it even lets you “wave” at them and gives you the option to send a message if they holler back. Foursquare’s Swarm lets you check in wherever you are and both Lyft and Uber give you the option of seeing where your friend is if they share their ride location with you.

Now Google Maps will let you tell your friends where you are and give them directions to your location. It will also let you pick a special friend (like a family member, spouse or love interest, for example) to share your location with long-term.

If Google’s new addition sounds familiar, that’s because the company several years ago used to offer a similar option called Latitude, which was also built into Google Maps. But in 2013, Google decided to instead roll location sharing into its social network Google+ as it exited the business of check-ins and real-time tracking in Maps.

However, it was arguably a mistake to pull location sharing from Google Maps, where it worked best and made the most sense. Without the option, many users turn to location sharing today via third-party apps, family locators or even iMessage, which today includes its own, similarly designed location-sharing function. There’s even a new maps app designed specifically for people following each others’ cars on long road trips.

The new feature is available now but you’ll need to set it up for each individual. To do so, tap the blue dot indicating where you are in the map or go to the side menu in the app and tap “Get Started.” After that, just follow the same instructions but instead tap “Share Location,” then choose any number of contacts with whom you want to share your location for a few minutes, hours, months or on an on-going basis.

Those who don’t have Google Maps can share through a short link via SMS. (Of course, only share that short link with someone you trust enough not to post it to the internet or share with others you don’t know or want finding you.)

Location sharing can be a useful feature at times, but it’s also fraught with potential nightmare scenarios — breaking up with a significant other and forgetting you’ve set them to the always-on setting in location sharing within the app, for example.

This is one of the reasons why Facebook recently dialed back on location sharing in its “Nearby Friends” feature. Up until the end of last year, the feature let your Facebook friends see your precise location on a map when you had the option enabled. And it offered the ability to either temporarily or permanently share your location with others you selected.

But users who forgot about having location sharing enabled were opening themselves up to being tracked and potentially stalked. It also lent a sort of creepy vibe to the social network that’s today focused on letting users more precisely control what information they’re sharing, and with whom.

Facebook in December decided to pull out the precise location sharing component in Nearby Friends and now offers to show proximities and neighborhoods instead.

 

Google acknowledged location sharing is a sensitive topic but told TechCrunch, “This is about making things simple, accessible and giving people that access to transparency…Anyone with bad intentions can find many other apps and means out there. We are focused on adding on that layer of convenience.”

Google at least aims to make sure you don’t forget having left the location-sharing setting enabled. The company says you should get a notification every two to three weeks reminding you that you’ve left the feature on. Google also mentioned it has a public policy team working with CORA  (Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse) to help inform its design of location-sharing features across Google products, including this new addition to Maps.

The new feature comes at a time when Google has been rapidly adding expanded functionality to its Maps application, in light of the threat of a now better-performing Apple Maps. Over the past several months, Google has added things like the ability to track where you’ve parked, visibility into the parking situation at your destination, integrated ridesharing, a bookmarking and bucket list option, the ability to add pits stops on a route and it redesigned the app’s interface for easier access to common needs, like info on traffic, transit and places.

CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna shines hope on the future of genetic modification at SXSW

Jennifer Doudna, co-inventor of CRISPR Cas9 technology, or the ability to program genes using a special enzyme, spoke about the promises of this technology on stage at SXSW this afternoon. In a keynote today, Doudna noted that while this technology is very young (less than five years old), “it’s been deployed very rapidly for existing applications,” she said.

For example, CRISPR Cas9 tech has important applications for treating diseases. One of the first applications we’ll see entering clinical trials, Doudna said, is using Cas9 gene editing tech to correct the mutation that causes sickle cell disease.

Another example is using the tech to create gene drives, which entails driving a trait through a population very quickly. Doudna said it’s already being deployed in the lab setting to make changes to insects that carry diseases, such as mosquitos that carry certain pathogens.

“In the future, we could create mosquitos impervious to infections and therefore prevent spreading diseases,” Doudna said.

Then, of course, there’s the use of gene editing in human embryos, which has attracted a lot of attention in the last few years. For example, the tech could be used to make changes to the immune systems of people with cancer, and make them more capable of fighting the disease.

The University of California Berkeley professor and founder of biotech startup Caribou Bioscience was up until recently embroiled in a hotly contested patent battle with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard over key portions of the technology for the past two years, namely the ability to edit living cells.

 The Broad Institute won in that case last month, but as Doudna pointed out to TechCrunch shortly after the decision went public, it still allows her team and the company she founded to work with the technology in a variety of ways.

CRISPR is a technology potentially worth hundreds of billions, if not trillions, as it could change entire industries. While the Broad Institute won the rights to its patent under a “no interference” ruling, UC Berkeley must still obtain the more basic CRISPR patent. Should that happen, companies interested in using the technology would likely have to pay both institutions for the rights.

During her keynote, Doudna noted how the development of this technology has been a very collaborative effort between professors, academic institutions, regulators, students, etc.

What ultimately creates the most stress for her is the fear that people will get out ahead of the tech, “getting so excited they start to deploy it before it’s even ready,” Doudna said. “I worry most about that kind of overextension that might lead to some sort of harmful effect that would then turn the public against it.”

The Ken wants to fix business journalism in India with a subscription model

Four former reporters and entrepreneurs are attempting to fix India’s “broken” business media landscape and simultaneously prove that there’s an audience — and business — for paying for quality journalism in the country.

Subscription-based media is thriving in the West. The New York Times has seen its digital subscription base swell following the election of President Trump. In tech, The Information, founded by a former Wall Street Journal editor, has thrived with a mix of trend-based reporting and news scoops, while Stratechery, an analysis-focused newsletter/blog from Taiwan-based writer Ben Thompson, has also shown the model to be lucrative.

But this is India, a country where monetizing a product is difficult even if it is supremely popular. Apple sells more iPhones on launch weekend than it manages in India over a whole year, while addictive services like Netflix — far cheaper than an iPhone — have struggled to gain mainstream prominence thus far.

Starting With Business Reporting

Yet subscription is the vision behind The Ken, a Bangalore-based new media company that publishes a story per day behind a paywall. Access is priced at $108 for overseas users, or 2,750 INR ($42) for those in India.

The site, which also offers $10 per month and $25/900 INR ($13.50) per quarter packages, is the most prominent subscription-based media play India has seen thus far. Its coverage is principally focused on technology and business, that’s the domain its founding team has experience in, but there are plans to move into new areas further down the line.

“We don’t want to be seen as just covering startups, that’s a very easy trap to fall into,” co-founder and CEO Rohin Dharmakumar told TechCrunch in a recent interview. “We want to expand our coverage and be interesting enough on a daily basis but also slightly unpredictable.”

The Ken — which is named after an old fashioned English word for knowledge — is build around its community. Email is the primary communication medium, and the team of 11 takes it in turns to send daily missives to its user base — including those who are registered but not paying — that introduce the daily read with humor and thought. Once a week, the site produces a story that sits outside of its paywall for anyone to read, acting as bait to lure in new subscriptions.

 

 

Beyond straight up pay-to-read, The Ken uses other models to help get its writing into the hands of more readers without the need for advertising. It has worked with corporate sponsors who pay to make some of its content available for free without any promotional material or advertising — mobile wallet giant Paytm, for example, sponsored a week-long free pass — while it is in the process of introducing corporate subscriptions, too.

There’s no plan for article-only or daily plans, Dharmakumar explained, because that would dilute the experience and take away from building a longer-term vision and community.

Make Media Great Again

Small disclaimer, I’m one of The Ken’s paying subscribers because, beyond information gathering as part of my job, I’m interested in observing the ways technology is disrupting daily life. Emerging markets — where tech is advancing almost every aspect of everyday living — are a fascination and India, with its billion-plus population and nationwide diversity, is arguable the country where the impact of tech could be highest. Yet there are few media outlets able to tell this story with clarity, interest and — above all — accuracy.

With respect to that latter point, Dharmakumar explained that The Ken started up in response to what he observed to be the Indian population’s general disinterest in media.

“It became very apparent that there was a crisis of business journalism in India,” he said. “People were essentially not reading newspapers, just giving up. And I don’t mean just young people, even experienced investors would prefer to catch up on news via social media.”

“Coverage was dumbed down, biased, and dense — people couldn’t relate to it and couldn’t find value in it,” Dharmakumar added.

 Inspired by some of the aforementioned subscription-based media plays — Dharmakumar specifically mentions The Information and Stratechery — the team of four decided it was “time someone did something about this in India” and they created The Ken. Initially the project started out with postings on social media, before introducing an email-registration-paywall to float the idea of a barrier between reader and subject matter.

Satisfied with what they saw, The Ken then went live to a paying audience.

Dharmakumar isn’t revealing how many readers it has right now, but he said the company has exceeded its own expectations at this point. Indeed, it actually became a profitable business within two weeks of the launch of its website before going on to raise $400,000 from a bunch of reputable angel investors this year. Some of those backers include the founders of notable Indian tech startups Paytm, TaxiForSure and Freshdesk. (Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma also backed FactorDaily, another ambitious new media startup we wrote about, alongside other India-based news websites.)

“While $400,000 may not seem like a lot of money these days, it’s a significant amount to build a focused, lean media business, which has also been generating revenue right from day one. As journalists, we’ve seen too many instances of companies losing their focus and fire in the belly after raising too much money too early on,” Dharmakumar wrote in a note to subscribers announcing the financing.

“Business journalism lost the plot on this, many years ago when it started churning out articles that were either incremental, one-sided, dumbed down or dry and boring. We go to great lengths to make our stories anything but,” he added.

Growing Into The Mainstream

Despite criticizing the status quo, The Ken’s CEO said the business isn’t looking to rip out the existing media system in India, rather it sees a position working within it.

“We are not attempting to replace traditional newspapers, we are a complement to one,” he said. “People read the news to find out what’s happening, we focus on what comes next, who is doing what, and where is the motivation?”

The company’s course for the next six month is to continue to do what it is doing while growing its audience and deepening its reporting pool. After that period, it will look to new coverage areas it can branch into to give its readership a wider selection of stories and information.

Dharmakumar is also keen to expand The Ken’s readership beyond its initial focus on business professional and tech industry watchers.

“Want to take our stories to younger people who feel business news isn’t for them,” he explained.

First up, apps for Android and iOS will come, which will help expand from those who currently rely on email to access the site and its stories. Other planned features include a comment section for stories and a Slack channel to enables readers to engage with writers directly, potentially to help steer editorial focus or raise potential areas for storytelling.

Sony Xperia Smartphone Images Leak Ahead of Monday’s MWC 2017 Launch

When Sony started sending media invites for its Xperia smartphone launch last month, it was speculated to launch at least two devices. Rumours however suggested later that Sony could launch five new Xperia smartphones at its launch event at the side-lines of MWC 2017 trade show in Barcelona – which kicks off at 8:30am CET (1pm IST). Now, we have been treated with four new images of Xperia smartphones – all of which are – expected to debut at the company’s Monday launch. Additionally, Sony’s rumoured Xperia XZ Premium was spotted in leaked image.

Sony Xperia Smartphone Images Leak Ahead of Monday's MWC 2017 Launch

The new leak comes from prolific tipster Evan Blass who tweeted out the four images on Sunday. We believe that Sony will be unveiling these four Xperia devices at MWC 2017. Unfortunately, the leaked devices weren’t named. But based on preliminary leaks, Sony is expected to launch two Xperia XZ range smartphones, which can be seen on the right. The third image in the leak (pictured in White) seems to be a successor to the Xperia XA. The fourth Sony Xperia device in the leaked image is unknown, and we will have to wait for Sony’s keynote on Monday.

Sony’s flagship Xperia smartphone is widely rumoured to feature the company’s new 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor with DRAM for smartphones.

An earlier leak claimed a Sony device codenamed Pikachu to make debut soon, and we suspect that the fourth leaked image could be of it. Dubbed Pikachu, the new Sony smartphone was spotted in GFXBench benchmark listing with some innards details. According to the benchmark listing, the Sony Pikachu may feature 5-inch HD display and will be powered by a 2.3GHz octa-core MediaTek MT6757 processor coupled with 3GB of RAM and 32GB storage. The alleged Sony Pikachu is said to run Android 7.0 Nougat out-of-the-box and sport a 21-megapixel rear camera, which can be considered as a highlight of the device. The handset is also said to pack an 8-megapixel front camera.

In a separate leak, Xperia Blog has shared a leaked image claimed to show the Xperia XZ Premium. The rumoured Sony Xperia XZ Premium is likely to come with a 4K HDR display, Snapdragon 835 SoC, and a 20-megapixel camera sensor. The handset is seen featuring a Chrome mirror finish at the back. Some of the features expected to be present on the Xperia XZ Premium include 960fps slow-motion video recording, which is also the highlight of the new 3-layer stacked CMOS image sensor. The leaked image shows May 7 on the lock screen pointing that the handset may release on this date.

LG G6 With 5.7-Inch FullVision Display, Google Assistant Launched at MWC 2017

LG G6, the new LG flagship smartphone, has been unveiled at the company’s launch event at MWC 2017 in Barcelona on Sunday. The LG G6 follows the company’s ‘Less Artificial, More Intelligence’ theme.

LG G6 With 5.7-Inch FullVision Display, Google Assistant Launched at MWC 2017

Juno Cho, President of Mobile Communications Company, LG Electronics, at the company’s keynote stressed that the smartphone war isn’t about specifications but about usability. The LG G6 highlight is of course the presence of the Google Assistant, the first non-Google Pixel smartphone to sport the virtual assistant.

LG G6 features
The LG G6 is the first LG phone launching with the new UX 6.0 while also sports 5.7-inch QHD+ FullVision display with a 18:9 (or 2:1) aspect ratio, which is longer and narrower than the current industry standard of 16:9. It packs a fingerprint scanner at the back.

Being called the Univisium aspect ratio, LG says cinemas, TV, and smartphones will all be moving towards this new 18:9 ratio. The company says that several apps in Google Play as well as content creators like Amazon are working to make content compatible for 18:9 aspect ratio which is being used on the LG G6. LG says the new UX 6.0 has been optimised for the new 18:9 aspect ratio on the LG G6.

The new flagship is touted to be the “first smartphone with supports Dolby Vision.” It also support HDR10 tech. The LG G6 is the first phone to come with Dolby Vision video support, and the Dolby confirmed that there are about 90 movies with Dolby Vision already available. Imangi Studios at the keynote announced Temple Run 2: Lost Jungle that it says has been optimised for the 18:9 aspect ratio, adding LG G6 users will get 650,000 in-game coins, enough to unlock all characters and powerups.

Talking about usability, the company at the LG keynote stressed that the LG G6 body width is 72mm (minimum body width 67mm). The company said that the bottom bezel size which is important for handling the phone is above 7.5mm offering more reliability while using the handset with just one hand, and reducing drop chances. LG also fit a 5.7-inch display in a smartphone with body meant for a 5.2-inch display, further helping grip the large screen smartphone.

At the keynote, LG confirmed that the LG G6 will come with a G6 Game Collection promotion which will be free for the buyers and will offer in-game content with a retail value of up to a total of $200 for six games including Temple Run 2, Spider-Man Unlimited, Crossy Road, SimCity BuildIt, Cookie Jam and Genies & Gems – on Google Play.

LG revealed that the six games take full advantage of the G6’s FullVision display and single-handed ease of use.

LG G6 specifications
The LG G6 specifications include a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 SoC with 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC (digital to analogue converter) for enhanced audio playback. Its 5.7-inch FullVision display bears a QHD+ (1440×2880 pixels) resolution with a pixel density of 564ppi. It will be available in two storage options – 32GB and 64GB. The LG G6 will support expandable storage via microSD card (up to 2TB). It comes with a dual rear camera setup with two 13-megapixel sensors – one for wide-angle shots with 125-degree lens and f/2.4 aperture, and the other for regular shots with 71-degree lens and OIS 2.0. At the front, the smartphone sports a 5-megapixel wide-angle lens with f/2.2 aperture and 100-degree lens. At the keynote, LG also showcased its new Square Grid feature for the camera while also confirmed that the front camera comes with autofocus.

The LG G6 battery has a capacity of 3300mAh, and is non-removable, which is a departure from the company’s previous policy of offering a removable battery on its flagship handsets. The battery capacity on the G6 is almost 500mAh more than on the LG G5.

At the keynote, the company stressed that the handset packs extra safety measures including a copper heatpipe to better dissipate heat. It also supports Quick Charge 3.0. LG G6 runs Android 7.0 Nougat with the company’s brand new UX 6.0 and also is the first non-Pixel phone with Google Assistant. It weighs in at 163 grams, and measures 148.9×71.9×7.9mm, impressively compact for a 5.7-inch smartphone. The new LG G6 smartphone comes with an IP68-rating for dust and water resistance.

LG G6 will support LTE-A 3 Band CA network while will come with Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth v4.2, NFC, and USB Type-C 2.0 connectivity options. It will be available in Astro Black, Ice Platinum, and Mystic White.

LG G6 price and availability
Unfortunately, LG chose not to detail the LG G6 price and availability at the company’s launch event in Barcelona. We’ll update you as soon as we know more.

iPhone 8 to Sport AR Features and Glass Back With Steel Frame: Reports

iPhone 8 rumours are coming in every day, and today’s set of leaks shed light on the metal and glass combination build of the device, some sort of augmented reality (AR) integration, and the removal of the dedicated fingerprint sensor. The iPhone 8 should get rid of the fingerprint reader on the physical Home Button, and look to embed it under the display screen.

iPhone 8 to Sport AR Features and Glass Back With Steel Frame: Reports

Apple has previously mentioned about its focus on AR (and not VR), and KGI Securities’ analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also noted that the company’s AR tech when it launches will be three or five years ahead of others. Goldman Sachs analyst Simona Jankowski claims that Apple will include AR content on its upcoming device, however, details on what exactly it will be, are still blurry.

In the memo obtained by Benzinga, Jankowski said, “The inclusion of 3D sensing functionality is increasingly likely, which could enable a robust augmented reality (AR) feature set that we believe will be a key differentiator for the 10-year anniversary iPhone.”

Apart from this, DigiTimes reiterates previous claims that the iPhone 8 should sport an all-glass back. The report further states that the edges should be made from stainless steel and the display will be of 5.8-inch. The other two 4.7-inch iPhone 7s and 5.5-inch iPhone 7s Plus will continue to sport an aluminium frame.

Lastly but importantly, a patent published on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark office indicates that future Apple devices could well be able to read fingerprints directly through the display, instead of by relying on a dedicated fingerprint reader. The patent was applied for back in June 2014. Currently, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have a Home Button, under which the fingerprint sensor resides. The patent adds weight to rumours that the iPhone 8 will ditch the Home Button altogether, and sport a wraparound bezel-less display with the ability to read fingerprints underneath the display.

The iPhone 8 is also tipped to sport a dual camera setup at the back, have an OLED screen, larger battery life, sport advanced wireless charging, and improved 3D Touch.

ISRO Planning to Launch SAARC Satellite in March, Chandrayaan-2 in Q1 2018

Space agency ISRO is planning to launch two satellites, including the one meant for the benefit of SAARC nations, in March and April this year.

“We are planning to launch two satellites, one each in March and April this year,” ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar told reporters to a question on the line up.

ISRO Planning to Launch SAARC Satellite in March, Chandrayaan-2 in Q1 2018

“Preparations are on in full swing,” he added. According to ISRO officials, the GSLV MARK II will carry the SAARC satellite, and the GSLV MARK III will inject the GSAT-19, a communication satellite.

PM Modi, during the SAARC summit at Nepal in November 2014, had announced launching of a SAARC satellite as a gift for the benefit of members of the regional grouping in various fields, including telecommunication and telemedicine.

Since Pakistan has ‘opted out’ of the project, the SAARC satellite is now being called the South Asian satellite.

About launch of the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, the ISRO Chairman said, “We are targeting first quarter of 2018 for the launch.”

To a query on plans for human spaceflight programmes by the agency, he said “It is not our priority right now.”

According to ISRO website, Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover.

The orbiter with scientific payloads will orbit around the Moon.

The lander will soft-land on the Moon at a specified site and deploy the rover. The scientific payloads onboard the orbiter, lander and rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface.

Meanwhile, Antrix CMD Rakesh said the ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation Ltd has got orders worth Rs. 500 to 600 crores from international customers. The space agency had earlier sent 20 satellites into the orbit in 2015.

Responding to a question on US companies approaching ISRO for launching its satellites, the Chairman said, the US based companies prefer ISRO’s launch vehicles to inject its nano satellites.

Kiran Kumar also said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was looking at other means of reducing cost of access to space.

To a query on keeping up consistency in launching satellites successfully, he said, “With each successful launch our responsibility grows and we give emphasis to zero defect delivery.”

In CARTOSAT series of earth observation satellites, there is a proposal to launch the CARTOSAT-2E in April, the ISRO officials said.