Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Orbital Sciences Corp Offers Up Shuttle Replacement



The Dulles, Viginia, based Orbital Scien
ces Corp. announced on Tuesday, that it had
officially submitted a proposal to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to build a winged space vehicle for astronaut transportation to and from earth orbit once NASA’s space shuttle is retired.

The design is of the "blended lifting body" type. Its design history goes back to 2002/2003 when Orbital did a study for NASA back then. The vehicle is designed with four seats allowing room for commercial passengers.

This new vehicle would normally use the Atlas V rocket as its booster and return for a conventional landing on a runway after its mission was completed.

Lockheed Martin Corp however, is going along with a capsule sim
ilar to Apollo/Orion with parachute landing.

My personal opinion on this matter is that I hope Orbital beats the pants off of the Lochkeed Martin proposal. Does anybody remember VentureStar? I personally do not want to see our nation just turns its back to the idea of a winged spacecraft that is able to land on a regular runway.


UPDATE December 18, 2010: At the NASA Dryden space center, a 15% scale model of Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft design was test dropped from a helicopter.
The company's full size version is based upon NASA's HL-20 lifting body. The Sierra Nevada Corporation's (SNC) Dream Chaser is designed to carry up to seven people to the ISS and back. It will be launched vertically on a Atlas V rocket and recover horizontally on conventional runways.

Using a Bell 206B3 Jet Ranger helicopter, the model was attached to a 100-foot long cable and dropped from an altitude of 14,000 feet. Landing this time was done via a parachute. The scale model was built by a team of experts from SNC and the Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU).

___
Ref.
1. Bizjournals.com "Orbital Sciences proposes shuttle replacement" by Tucker Echols. December 15, 2010.(http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/news/2010/12/15/orbital-proposes-shuttle-replace.html).
2.SpaceFellowship.com (http://spacefellowship.com/news/art24418/orbital-submits-proposal-for-nasa-s-commercial-crew-development-program.html).
3. Update link "Dream Chaser Model Drops in at NASA Dryden" (http://www.comspacewatch.com/news/viewsr.rss.html?pid=35563).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

X-37B is back on the ground


The mysterious X-37B has returned from orbit and its secret mission. Another X-37 will soon go back up again.

Personally, I hope that "they" scale it up to allow humans to fly in it sometime in the future.

___
Ref. Wired.com/Dangerroom (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/12/air-force-on-secret-space-plane-nothing-to-see-here-move-along/). Photo comes from same article.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Space-X Gets FAA License for Re-Entry Operations!


U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which oversees commercial space transportation as well as regular aviation matters, granted SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) the one-year license on November 22, 2010.

In the Space.com article, it was mentioned that the FAA has issued 200+ license for commercial launches, but this is the first approval for a commercial re-entry operation.

This allows SpaceX to now test its Dragon space capsule (that is launched by SpaceX Falcon 9 booster into low-earth orbit). This will officially the the first attempt by a commercial company to recover a spacecraft from orbit.

First attempt to fly the Dragon space capsule and recover it will take place as early as December 7, 2010.

If this demo mission is successful, then SpaceX will begin making regular cargo-delivery missions to the International Space Station (ISS). Their fixed-price contract is quoted as having a value of $1.6 billion. The first missions will be unmanned.



___
Ref. Space.com "SpaceX Receives FAA License to Return Private Spaceships From Earth Orbit" By Mike Wall. November 23, 2010. (http://www.space.com/news/spacex-faa-license-private-spaceship-reentry-101122.html).

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Navy News: Saga of the USN's LCS ship buy & the F-35B Debacle



Discovered this bit of news over on the Information Dissemination blog. Then also back on November 10th, on James Hasik's blog.

The U.S. Navy might be changing its mind and wants to get BOTH types of Littoal Combat Ship (LCS) program. Up until now, the USN was saying it was going to choose one or the other - not both! Politics sticking its nose in to save jobs (and the congressman's phoney bloney job to parapharase that line from Blazing Saddles).

But even more telling is this article posted on Next Navy by Craig Hooper. The F-35B purchase for not only the United States, but for foreign nations who have already sunk big bucks into designing and building flatops to handle the STOVL aircraft design that might in fact be dropped because it canot meet its performace goals. Included with this article is a photoshopped picture of two different carrier designs that are in the works.

Quote: So, if the F-35B does go away, America’s major Pacific allies will be left with, well, a brace of aircraft-less aircraft carriers. And that, on the part of those who spent their treasure to buy F-35B-friendly platforms, is going to sting a bit. Nobody likes to be left holding a few multi-billion dollar platforms that fail to provide the expected operational benefits.

With China looking set to finally field their first aircraft carrier, the demise of the F-35B means that America’s Asian partners will “loose face”–and a substantial security blanket. While it is too early to know just what the ramifications the likely F-35B implosion may have upon Pacific security, at the end of the day, it isn’t good news if regional partners cannot respond in kind to a Chinese carrier task force. End Quote.

But even more telling, Craig Hooper puts forth the notion that China herself might fill the void with their own design! Oh wait! The DEW Line did publish photos of some new Chinese VTOL design. China's aircraft manufacturer AVIC showed off at the 2010 Zhuhai airshow, a stealthy/fan-in-fuselage/compound-pusher/VTOL strike aircraft with internal weapons bays. FlightGlobal photographer Tom Gordon snapped photos of the model on the display stand.

Here is a YouTube video of the Japanese newest helicopter carrier, the Hyuga.


.
The Koreans have their own carrier in the works known as DOKDO (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ROKS_Dokdo_(LPH_6111).jpg).

Bottom line, we have new flatops and the F-35B was promised to be the be all end all for these baby flattops. And it looks like the F-35B will not be around for much longer.
.


___
Ref. 1. Information Dissemination blog. "Coach Says 'Go For Two!'" November 18, 2010. (http://www.informationdissemination.net/2010/11/coach-says-go-for-two.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+InformationDissemination+(Information+Dissemination)).
2. James Hasik "Is buying two types of littoral combat ship good for the US Navy?" November 10, 2010.(http://www.jameshasik.com/weblog/2010/11/is-buying-two-types-of-littoral-combat-ship-good-for-the-us-navy.html).
3. Next Navy "In the Pacific, the F-35B debacle is a strategic nightmare" by Craig Hooper. November 17, 2010. (http://nextnavy.com/in-the-pacific-the-f-35b-debacle-is-a-strategic-nightmare/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+NextNavy+(Next+Navy)).
4. Flight Global.com. "China's AVIC unveils stealth Zhuhai surprise" by Stephen Trimble. November 18, 2010. (http://www.flightglobal.com/blogs/the-dewline/).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Earth Sheltered House For $5,000 - If You Want to Live Like a Hobbit!



Housing costs out of sight like that mystery missile launch off of the California coastline last night?

Well, yes of course they are out of sight. So when I came across this bit of news, I knew I had to make a posting about it. "Hand-build an Earth Sheltered House For $5,000" (posted back on December 1, 2008). This post is more like a bookmark for me at the moment, but open for anyone to use it as well. The picture with Ms. Susan Kraemer's article looks very much like those Hobbit houses in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (without the round doors!).

But that's not all! How about building a Tiny House out of Shipping Pallets! This last idea is very interesting. I am in need of a new storage building, but due to the economy, I can never some up with enough money to make even a good down payment on a ready built shed.

__
Ref. Green Building Elements "Hand-build an Earth Sheltered House For $5,000" by Susan Kraemer. Dec. 1, 2008. (http://greenbuildingelements.com/2008/12/01/hand-build-an-earth-sheltered-house-for-5000/).
Green Building Elements. "Build Your Own Free Tiny House with Shipping Pallets" by Brian Liloia. Feb. 19, 2009. (http://greenbuildingelements.com/2009/02/19/build-your-own-free-tiny-house-with-shipping-pallets/).
Images come from each of their respective articles on the Green Building Elements website.

The Great Mystery Missile Launch of 2010!


No one knows WHO owns this baby! The USAF, USN, NORAD, don't claim it as one of their own.

Should we be glad of this or worry over it?

Just be glad that the missile didn't travel EASTWARDS toward California and the rest of the United States. It headed out towards the Pacific, maybe to the Pacific Missile Range Facility; if it was ours.

There was video shot by a KCBS tv news helicopter crew of the missile launch and its resulting contrail.

The most likely source of this mystery missile is a test firing of a missile from a US Navy missile submarine. Failing that, maybe a missile went 'haywired' in the tube and it had to be launched to prevent the sub from being destroyed (as likely a theory as anything else).

Another theory could be a foreign power showing off a little muscle as a warning to the USA to stop printing worthless dollar bills to buy ourselves out of a recession.

ET on the other hand uses gravitic drives (supposely), so in this case, I cannot put the blaim on aliens and UFOs from other worlds!

There are some stuff about a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) that Information Dissemination has put out, but they admit that the time stamps are wrong for the time of the missile launch.

UPDATE 1 (November 10, 2010): Well, the experts at Jane's Defence Weekly have spoken on the matter now. See the original article here (http://amerpundit.com/2010/11/10/janes-editor-yeah-that-was-a-missile/).


__
Ref. "Pentagon Can't Explain "Missile" off California" November 9, 2010. by CBS/AP News. (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/11/09/national/main7037857.shtml?tag=topnews). There is a video attached to the original news article if you want to watch it.
Image off of Drudge Report.

Friday, November 5, 2010

US Army Spy Blimp


So the U.S. Army is getting into the blimp business, at least according to a article posted on Wired.com.

US Army forked over $517 million to Northrop Grumman to develope the experimential airship known officially as Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicles. If successful, the blimp will have a airborne endurance of up to three weeks at a time. And it will carry lots and losts of sensors, to capture still and video images of civilians and our nation's adversaries.

Lifted up into the air by helium and propulsion will be provided by four diesel engines. One US Army official said that in Afghanistan, it would take 12 Reaper drones to duplicated the blimp's functions.

So far, the blimp has passed three tests that judge the feasibility of the airship design. Northrop Grumman stated that it will inflate the first blimp in the spring-summer of 2011. And flight testing to be completed by the end of 2010.

For more information, check out the article. The link is below.

___
Ref. Wired.com. "Northrop’s Huge Army Spy Blimp Floats On" by Spencer Ackerman. November 4, 2010. (http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/northrops-huge-army-spy-blimp-floats-on/).
image comes from same article,provided by Northrop Grumman.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

100-Year Spaceship Program


At a news conference held in San Francisco on Saturday, NASA Ames director Simon Worden talked about what his division was doing with funding from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). Something he called the "Hundred Year Starship" project.

The project has been given $1 million dollars from DARPA and another $100,000 from NASA in the hopes of utilizing new propulsion ideas. One of which is familiar to Star Trek fans the world over: Electric propulsion.

Quoting Mr. Worden, “Anybody that watches the (Star Trek starship) Enterprise, you know you don’t see huge plumes of fire," he said. "Within a few years we will see the first true prototype of a spaceship that will take us between worlds.”

The Hundred Year Ship Project is now aimed at settling other worlds.

Mr. Worden is seeking out some billionaires the likes of which include Larry Page-Google founder, to help get the idea off the launch pad so to speak. Quoting again, "You don’t have to carry all the fuel," he said. "You use that energy from a laser or microwave power to heat a propellant; it gets you a pretty big factor of improvement. I think that’s one way of getting off the world.”

This news dovetails with a recent article published in the latest issue of Popular Science (November 2010), the cover article entitled "39 Days to Mars." It was an article that focus on former astronaut Franklin Chang Diaz and his Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR) engine.

The VASIMR uses a electrical source such as a nuclear reactor or a solar generator to transform hydrogen gas into plasma. Powerful magnets then force the plasma out of the rocket engine up to 123,000 mph.

One can suppose that Mr. Worden was indeed referring to the VASIMR in his talks with Larry Page and at the news conference.

UPDATE (October 31, 2010): Found this interesting take on this subject here (http://www.suite101.com/content/newly-revealed-nasa-cover-up-another-possible-future-ufo-a302707).


____
Ref. "NASA preps '100-year spaceship' program to boldly go where none have gone before" By Peter Farquhar. October 23, 2010. (http://www.news.com.au/technology/nasa-preps-100-year-spaceship-programme-to-boldly-go-where-none-have-gone-before/story-e6frfro0-1225941547507).
image is Star Trek USS Enterprise pulled off of the net from Paramount Pictures.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Use an Asteroid as a Space Station

President Obama says we should visit an asteroid instead of the Moon. Read what Ray Villard worte about on Discovery.com "Let's Build an Interplanetary Space Station." Link is in the Ref section as always, but I have included a few paragraphs as a preview below...

The Obama administration has directed NASA to send a manned mission to an asteroid by 2025. This is attractive because very little fuel is needed to land on an asteroid, and the journey is shorter than a trip to Mars.

There are over 1,000 NEAs to choose from. They've been popping up in the news almost weekly. Just this week a small townhouse-sized asteroid designated 2010 TD54 skimmed by us at an altitude just a few thousand miles above our geostationary communication satellites.

But rather than simply visiting a co-orbital asteroid and bringing back rock samples, the mission could be used as a step toward the ultimate goal of space colonization.

A carefully selected asteroid with the right density and strength could be hollowed out for an underground base to be established. This would provide a stable temperature, and shielding from micrometeorites and solar radiation. Solar power would be plentiful. This kind of engineering was talked about for a moon colony, but the freight costs to land people and equipment on an asteroid are much lower.

For the rest, please visit Discovery.com.


___
Ref. Discovery.com. "LET'S BUILD AN INTERPLANETARY SPACE STATION" by Ray Villard. October 14, 2010. (http://news.discovery.com/space/lets-build-an-interplanetary-space-station.html).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Big Apple UFO

A shiny object that appeared over Manhattan's West Side made the news today. Police and FAA claim it was nothing more than balloons. The object first appeared about 1:30pm in the afternoon. It appeared to be about 5,000 feet altitude.

For more information, read the orignal news article with the link info below.


___
Ref. NY Daily News. "Mystery shiny objects floating over Manhattan spark UFO frenzy" by BY Oren Yaniv, Rocco Parascandola and Lukas I. Alpert. October 13, 2010. (http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/10/13/2010-10-13_mystery_shiny_objects_floating_over_manhattan_spark_ufo_frenzy.html).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

First Glide Flight of VSS Enterprise



October 10, 2010 over Mojave, California, Virigin Galactic tested its first commercial space craft in glide tests this date. VSS Enterprise (also known as SpaceShipTwo) was released from the White Knight carrier aircraft at an altitude of 45,000 feet. At the controls were Pete Siebold as pilot in command and Mike Alsbury as co-pilot.

For more details of this event, check out the actual news article. Pictures also came from this website.

___
Ref.
1. Comspacewatch.com (http://www.comspacewatch.com/news/viewpr.rss.html?pid=31823).

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A New Earth Size World Discovered!


Got this bit of news via the Drudge Report...

US astronomers reported on Wednesday that they have discovered a Earth-size planet that might be habitable, and it is orbiting a nearby star. They also added that they think there could be many more such planets in outer space.

The new planet, discovered by a team of astronomers from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and from the Carnegie Institution of Washington; the new world is orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. Its right smack in the middle of that star's "habitable zone" they said.

The scientists have dubbed this new world Gliese 581g and it has a mass three to four times that of our own Earth, and a orbital period of just under 37 days (i.e. a year on this planet just takes 37 days to complete). It is no doubt a rocky world and it has enough gravity to hold onto an atmosphere. So Says Professor Steven Vogt of U of C, Santa Cruz. The world has a diameter of 1.2 to 1.4 times that of Earth. The gravity would be about the same or slightly higher than Earth "Normal."

Gliese 581 is about 20 light years away from our own solar system. Gliese581g is tidally locked to its star, meaning that one side is aways facing teh star and the other is facing away in perpetual darkness. The scientists gues that teh average surface temperture would be about -24 to +10 degrees Fahrenheit (-31 to -12 degrees Celsius).

More details will be published in the Astrophysical Journal and online at arXiv.org soon.

Quote: "Any emerging life forms on the new planet would have a wide range of stable climates to choose from and to evolve around, depending on their longitude," Vogt said.

In their report, the scientists in fact announce the discovery of two new planets around Gliese 581, bringing the total number of known planets around this star to six.

That is the most yet discovered in a planetary system other than Earth's solar system. End Quote.

UPDATE (September 30, 2010): Found image on Space.com. link posted below in Ref. section.

UPDATE 1 (September 30, 2010): From article posted to comcast.net this date.

"This really is the first Goldilocks planet," said co-discoverer R. Paul Butler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Seems like R. Paul Butler has managed to already name the new world after his wife! Unofficially, its being called: Zarmina's World;

(http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-science/20100929/US.SCI.New.Earths/).

__
Ref
1. Yahoo News/AFP. September 29, 2010.(http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100929/sc_afp/usastronomyplanet_20100929210707).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Russian Flying Cars Project

Article in its entirity quoted from the Gizowatch website...

The concept of flying cars is still in the materializing stage, and that flying saucer ambition from Moller International never went through. But that’s not a reason enough to stop Russian DIYer with his efforts for something new in the genre. Case in point is a flying saucer being developed by former pilot, Eugene Bugrov from Tyumen, Russia. An aircraft for the 21st century, which isn’t a fantasy, has earned Eugene several awards at international forums.

Eugene’s fundamentally new type of engine that operates on plasma has been notices and shown interest in by foreign companies. The flying saucer that has been patented could soon be seen surfing in the air because some like-minded creators have joined Eugene in the development of his flying project of course to speed up things.

Eugene’s arsenal of creations also includes a spider-man suitcase, which lets people escape high-rise buildings down the walls in case of emergency, and a laser that can cut through rocks and metal. Eugene claims a place in the “Book of Records of the Tyumen Region” as the most productive inventor of the area.

Maybe he can succeed where Moller has failed on the flying car dream.

__
Ref.
1. Gizowatch.com (http://www.gizmowatch.com/entry/russian-diyers-flying-saucer-will-be-way-up-in-flying-cars/).

Saturday, September 11, 2010

National Space Society-Adopt the Senate Version of the NASA Authorization Act 2010

This following article comes from the National Space Society's own blog...

The National Space Society Calls for House to Adopt the Senate Version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010

The National Space Society (NSS) is today reaffirming its longstanding and unwavering commitment to further space exploration and development, by calling on the Executive and Legislative branches to incorporate their various proposals into a Unified Space Policy so that the United States can once again begin to move beyond low Earth orbit. Congress and the Administration need to work together to determine the best path forward relative to our space program, including how best to leverage the necessary partnership between the public and private sectors relative to launch capabilities and how best to maintain a skilled work force.

The NSS emphatically requests that the House of Representatives adopt the Senate version of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010.

NSS believes that the Senates bipartisan NASA Authorization Act of 2010 represents the most promising of the options that have been proposed to date. The Senate bill provides a framework for compromise, which will be required in order to obtain the widespread political support necessary to pass and fund a set of programs that together will enable the United States to once again move beyond low Earth orbit. Significantly, the Senate bill seeks to make use of the work force and infrastructure made available by the imminent retirement of the Space Shuttle by speeding the development of a new Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV), which the bill specifies should be in service by 2016. The Senate bill tasks NASA with developing and building an evolvable system which can incorporate emerging technological advances, and also demands that NASA and Congress work together to accomplish this task within a specific, affordable, and sustainable budget.

In addition, the bill also preserves the primary initiatives included in the Administration’s budget proposal, such as support for using commercial providers to transport cargo and crew to and from the International Space Station, funding for technology development programs, and a firm commitment to science. Indeed, the Senate bill specifically authorizes development of in-space capabilities such as refueling and storage technology, orbital transfer systems, innovative in-space propulsion technology, communications, and data management. Although the amounts allocated in the Senate bill for commercial crew and technology development are less than the amounts proposed by the Administration, they still represent a significant increase in funding for and commitment to both commercial space and technology development.

As Congress and the Administration continue to work together, we urge that the following concepts be included in the new plan:

Heavy Lift Vehicle: As set forth in the Senate bill, the selection and development of a new Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) must begin in the very near term. NSS maintains that development should commence no later than the 2011 date set forth in the Senate bill. The missions that the new HLV will be slated to accomplish must be identified and sufficient funding must be provided to achieve those missions. The design of the vehicle should be mission-enabling, while at the same time being focused on efficiency, affordability, and sustainability.

Commercial: The new commercial launch industry must be supported. Successful development of such an industry can not only dramatically reduce the cost of launch but can also enable NASA to focus its resources beyond low Earth orbit. In addition to creating a new major industry for the 21st century, embracing commercial options can help to create a new fiscal culture at NASA.

Technology Review: NSS supports the focus on research and development of new enabling technologies, such as advanced propulsion. However, to keep such technology development programs focused, NSS calls on NASA to define and prioritize the most promising technology concepts to advance human space exploration.

Timelines and Destinations: NSS believes that the Congress and the Administration need to establish firm timelines and destinations. NSS believes that we should set a goal to send humans to at least one intermediate destination beyond low Earth orbit, such as an asteroid, within the next ten years and to land humans on Mars by no later than 2030. By doing this, we will gain valuable knowledge and keep the country, and our skilled workforce, fully engaged in the program. If it is to succeed, this new path will require a sustained, generational commitment to NASA’s long-term mission. It will also require incentives for private sector and international participation. NSS acknowledges the financial constraints under which the U.S. government will be operating in the next few years. Tax dollars should be spent wisely, which is why we are making these requests. The National Space Society looks forward to working with Congress, NASA, and the Administration to guarantee that the United States remains a leader in space exploration.


With the world all caught up if we should burn a book or not, for me; its nice to stick with something I have a better grasp on.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Asteroid Mission - 2025


New idea being pitched around is a plan to visit a asteroid in the year 2025. The mission is nickname: Plymouth Rock.

Gee, that would be the perfect mission of a Orion class spaceship. Oops! Forgot President Obama axed that program. But, there is a resistance movment in Congress to keep Orion on life support until Obama can be kicked out of office.

Quoting the Space.com article: "We are pleased that the Orion project is included in the House and Senate bills as Lockheed Martin works toward a 2013 launch date," said Linda Singleton, Orion Communications Manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Co. in Houston.

This week, Josh Hopkins of Lockheed's Human Spaceflight Advanced Programs will detail an early human mission to near-Earth asteroids using Orion spacecraft, at Space 2010, a conference being held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. end quote.

But - back to what is referred to as "The Plymouth Rock" deep space exploration mission. A so-called dressed rehearsal for a manned mission to Mars.

Lockheed Martin has been spending its own cash on developing this mission plan. Josh Hopkins detail what an early human mission to near-Earth asteroids using Orion spacecraft would be like, at Space 2010, a conference being held by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

At that meeting, the proposed asteroid mission concept combines two Orion spacecraft with modifications to provide the necessary propulsion, living space and life-support capability for two astronauts. The dual-Orion configuration can probably support deep-space mission durations of five to six months.

Quote, "Because Orion is already designed to do missions far beyond low-Earth orbit, it already has most of the capabilities that we need," Hopkins said.

Thomas Jones, a former space shuttle astronaut, "NASA's plans for how to execute a NEO mission are still in the formative stage, but a key component of any mission concept is a small piloted re-entry vehicle," Jones told SPACE.com. "The updated Orion could serve this function, as part of a larger spacecraft capable of reaching and exploring a NEO."

NASA could build a NEO cruise vehicle in low-Earth orbit or at a stable point in space near Earth called a Lagrange point, Jones said. That craft would consist of a propulsion system, habitation volume, a small NEO surface exploration craft that Jones likened to a "space pod" and the re-entry vehicle.

"An attractive change for NASA between the lunar architecture and proposed NEO missions is that most of this cruise vehicle could be re-used," Jones said.

Only the re-entry vehicle would have to be replaced, he added. The rest of the mission's assets could be left in Earth orbit to be used on later flights.

Now this is where Robert Bigelow can come in with his inflatable haitats for a space mission. This could increase the crew size from two to four.

Anyway, use the link below for the entire article.

___
Ref.
1. Space.com. August 30, 2010. "'Plymouth Rock' Deep Space Adteroid Mission Idea Gains Ground" by Leonard David. (http://www.space.com/news/asteroid-mission-plans-orion-spacecraft-100830.html).
2. Image from Space.com.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The UK will lease it's Navy Planes from the US?


Two new aircraft carriers are being built by Great Britain. They cost so much now, and with the Sea Harriers/Harriers being retired just as these new ships get launched - The Royal Navy is looking into maybe leasing its Navy planes from the United States.

Another option is that the US Marines will be invited to operate from the British ships in joint operations.

Quoting the article, A senior military source said: 'The U.S. Marines have the aircraft. Their aircraft would fly from the British carriers. Or we could borrow some from them.

'The Treasury are happy to pay for the carriers but there's an issue over the cost of the aircraft.' end quote.

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox has decided to give up Great Britian's ability to "go it alone." Major capabilities that let Britain fight wars alone, and rely on American support in future conflicts instead. For example, rely on US AWACS instead of a home grown aerial surveillance (i.e. Nimrod class aircraft).

Added to that, Chancellor George Osborne has asked the British Ministry of Defense to find budget savings of 10-20 percent in the future. That means downgraded aircraft/helicopters.

As for the Harriers, this bit comes at the end of the article: The last Sea Harriers operated by the Fleet Air Arm were withdrawn from service in 2006, leaving Navy and RAF pilots using the GR9 ground attack variant of the aircraft.

There are 45 Harriers left, but the jet is due to go out of service by 2018 to be replaced by a variant of the U.S.-made Joint Strike Fighter. end quote.



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1. Daily Mail. August 25, 2010. "Britain forced to borrow U.S. jets to fly from our NEW aircraft carriers as cutbacks bite" by Tim Shipman (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1305880/UK-borrow-US-jets-fly-NEW-aircraft-carriers-cutbacks-bite.html).
2. image from Daily Mail (May 20, 2008).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Iran: Nukes, Mini-Subs, unmanned Bomber Drones...


Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been quite busy here lately. I mean, celebrating that his nuclear reactor has yet to be attacked by Israel or the Great Satan (aka the USA). He has been showing off some neat little mini-subs that are based off of a North Korean design. You can read more about the mini subs from an article I did on my other blog (The Shanks Dimension). Use the link down in the ref section to find it.

Then this bit of news about a new drone dubbed "Karar." A 'bomber drone' that can bomb targets at high speed according to state run Iranian news services. Quoting Ahmadinejad in his TV speech, "This jet, before it heralds death for enemies, is the messenger of salvation and dignity for humanity," Ahmadinejad said in his speech marking the unveiling of the drone in a hall at Tehran's Malek Ashtar university. end quote.

The drone has many different capabilities, including carrying bombs to destroy targets, and can fly long range at high speed. Karrar with its turbojet engine, is able to carry weapons to hit the determined targets (read Israel).

And this bomber drone unveiling comes a few days after Iran test fired a new missile, the Qiam(Rising). Iran is expected to keep test firing several new missiles over the next week or two. A 3rd generation Fateh 110 (Conqueror)-suppose to have a range of up to 125 miles.

Other Iranian defense news also mentioned missile carrying speedboats called Seraj (Lamp) and Zolfaqar (the Imam Ali's sword).

Meanwhile, the nuclear plant in Bushehr is being loaded with it's fuel rods. No Israeli air strike yet as of this posting.

___
Ref.
1. The Vancouver Sun, August 22, 2010. "Iran's Ahmadinejad unveils bomber drone" by Farhad Pouladi (AFP).(http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Iran+Ahmadinejad+unveils+bomber+drone/3429242/story.html).
2. The Shanks Dimension.com. May 1, 2010. "Deepwater Horizon Target of North Korea Special Ops Service?" by D.W. Shanks (http://www.theshanksdimension.com/2010/05/deepwater-horizon-target-of-north-korea-special-ops-service/).
3. MSNBC. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38804551/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The NASA Authorization Act of 2010

The following is copied entirely from the Commerce, Science, & Transportation website. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (Ranking Member) and Senator John D. Rockefeller IV (Chairman).

Begin quote.

The bill would authorize NASA appropriations for FY 2011-2013 with the same top-line budget values as the President’s request to Congress. The bill would support an overall growth in science, aeronautics, and space technology and define a long-term goal for human space flight to expand a permanent human presence beyond low-Earth orbit. Key objectives of this goal would include full utilization of the International Space Station (ISS), determining the ability of humans to live in space for extended periods of time, maximizing the role of space exploration and technology in current and future missions, advancing knowledge and inspiring young people into higher education, and building upon international partnerships.

Human Space Flight. The bill would:

*Couple human space flight efforts to national and global needs and challenges;
Provide a sustainable exploration program to incorporate new technologies and in-space capabilities;

*Require immediate development of a heavy-lift capability and continued support of an exploration crew vehicle to be capable of supporting missions beyond low-Earth orbit starting in 2016; and

*Support a sound performance and cost framework by maximizing use, where possible, of the workforce, assets, and capabilities of the Space Shuttle, Constellation, and other NASA programs.

Space Technology. The bill would:

*Invest in exploration technologies and robotic capabilities that are tied to the overall exploration framework and support U.S. innovation and competitiveness.

Commercial Cargo and Crew. The bill would:

*Continue to support commercial cargo development and provide additional funds to meet launch infrastructure requirements and accelerate development activity; and

*Expand the Commercial Crew Development Program in 2011 for concept development and supporting activities, while requiring a number of studies to ensure effective oversight of the potential initiation of a commercial crew capability procurement program no earlier than 2012.
International Space Station. The bill would:

*Extend the ISS to at least 2020 to support international and commercial collaboration and growth, research, and technology development to maximize the scientific return on the significant investment in the ISS;

*Establish an independent non-profit to work with NASA to fully develop the ISS U.S. segment as a National Laboratory; and

*Require an assessment of ISS requirements for parts and equipment needed to ensure its full functionality through 2020.

Shuttle Retirement and final “Launch on Need” Mission. The bill would:

*Authorize an additional Shuttle flight, contingent on a safety review, to provide necessary support for the extension of the ISS.

Science and Aeronautics. The bill would:

*Protect a balanced portfolio for NASA, including full funding of aeronautics and Earth and space science.

Education. The bill would:

*Support new education initiatives, such as teacher training programs, to reinforce NASA’s role in developing a workforce with strong science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills; and

*Increase the investment in NASA EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) and NASA Space Grant program.

Rescoping and Revitalizing Institutional Capabilities. The bill would:

*Require NASA to examine alternative management models for NASA’s workforce, centers, and capabilities, while enforcing short-term prohibitions on major center displacements and reductions-in-force until the study is completed.

end quote.



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Ref. July 15, 2010. (http://commerce.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=Legislation&ContentRecord_id=8d7c1465-f852-4835-ba84-25faf56bbb36&ContentType_id=03ab50f5-55cd-4934-a074-d6928b9dd24c&Group_id=6eaa2a03-6e69-4e43-8597-bb12f4f5aede).

Churchill RAF-UFO Cover-Up




Two of my favorite subjects combined into one story. UFOs and World War Two history. My disappointment with the article is the failure to mention what type of reconnaissance aircraft was involved. The meat of the article implies to me that it was at minimum, a two person aircraft to maybe something larger. In my mind-this means a twin-engine Mosquito. But - that is a guess on my part.

Here is the entire article from the Telegraph quoted below...

The former Prime Minister allegedly banned reporting of the “bizarre” incident, off the east coast of England, for half a century amid fears disclosures about unidentified flying objects would create public hysteria.

He is said to have made the orders during a secret war meeting with US General Dwight Eisenhower, the then commander of the Allied Forces, at an undisclosed location in America during the latter part of the conflict.

The claims are contained in thousands of pages of declassified files on UFOs, released on Thursday online by the National Archives.

The 18 files, which cover from 1995 to 2003, are made up of more than 5,000 pages of reports, letters, and drawings drawn from correspondence with the public and questions raised in parliament.

The allegations involving Churchill were made by the grandson of one his personal bodyguards, an RAF officer who overheard the discussion, who wrote to the Ministry of Defence in 1999 inquiring about the incident after his grandfather disclosed details to his family.

According to the series of letters, written by the guard's grandson who is now a physicist from Leicester, a reconnaissance plane and its crew were returning from a mission over occupied Europe when they were involved in the war incident.

During their flight, on the English coast, possibly near Cumbria, their aircraft was approached by a metallic UFO which shadowed them.

Photographs of the object, which the crew claimed had “hovered noiselessly” near the plane, were taken by the crew.

Later, during discussions about the unexplained incident, the two men were claimed to have become so concerned by the incident that Churchill ordered it remain secret for 50 years or more.

During the meeting, a weapons expert dismissed suggestions the object was a missile as the event was "totally beyond any imagined capabilities of the time".

Another person at the meeting raised the possibility of a UFO, at which point Churchill ordered the report to be classified for at least half a century and reviewed by the prime minister to stop “panic” spreading.

“There was a general inability for either side to match a plausible account to these observations, and this caused a high degree of concern,” wrote the scientist, whose details are redacted.

"Mr Churchill is reported to have made a declaration to the effect of the following: 'This event should be immediately classified since it would create mass panic among the general population and destroy one's belief in the Church'."

Apart from telling his daughter – the scientist’s mother – about the incident when she was nine, the bodyguard, who was “greatly affected by his experience”, only disclosed the details to his wife on his deathbed in 1973.

The scientist, also an expert in astronomy who said he developed software for use in "spacecraft thermal engineering", was told years later by his mother.

Stressing he was not a “crackpot”, he said he wanted to investigate the science behind the incident after his grandfather, who was bound by the Official Secrets Act, remained convinced that the object was secret technology being tested by a foreign power.

After investigating the claims, an MoD official said there was no evidence to support the claims as all “UFO files before 1967 were destroyed after five years” due to insufficient public interest. This was supported by a Cabinet Office official.

While there was documents supporting the events, historians last night believed it more than likely occurred.

They said that Churchill had a known interest with UFOs, even asking for a report in 1952 on “flying saucers” and what it “amounted to”.

Dr David Clarke, author of The UFO files and Senior Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University, said the “fascinating” files showed the level of concern about such “bizarre incidents” during the war.

“It does tie in with what we already know as you have to remember that this was also long before the phrase UFO was created,” he said.

“I suspect there is an element of truth to the statement.”
end quote.

Again, I'm going to keep a eye out on this story in the hopes of discovering a bit more details of the encounter as it filters out over the internet.


___
Ref. Telegraph.co.uk. "UFO files: Winston Churchill 'feared panic' over Second World War RAF incident" by Andrew Hough and Peter Hutchison. August 5, 2010. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/ufo/7926037/UFO-files-Winston-Churchill-feared-panic-over-Second-World-War-RAF-incident.html).
image from internet, (http://www.2worldwar2.com/mosquito.htm).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moon Landings Weren't Faked-British Humor

OK, I'm a late comer to this bit. Its funny to watch. enjoy. Again, click on video if needed to view on YouTube itself.

Monday, July 26, 2010

NASA Kepler Mission Discovered Earth Size Worlds

From Foxnews.com comes this article quoted in its entirety.

Scientists celebrated Sunday after finding more than 700 suspected new planets -- including up to 140 similar in size to Earth -- in just six weeks of using a powerful new space observatory.

Early results from NASA’s Kepler Mission, a small satellite observing deep space, suggested planets like Earth were far more common than previously thought.

Past discoveries suggested most planets outside our solar system were gas giants such as Jupiter and Saturn -- but the new evidence tipped the balance in favor of solid worlds.

Astronomers said the discovery meant the chances of eventually finding truly Earth-like planets capable of sustaining life rose sharply.

NASA so far formally announced only five new exoplanets -- those outside our solar system -- from the mission because its scientists were still analyzing Kepler’s finds to confirm they are actually planets.

“The figures suggest our galaxy, the Milky Way [which has more than 100 billion stars] will contain 100 million habitable planets, and soon we will be identifying the first of them,” said Dimitar Sasselov, professor of astronomy at Harvard University and a scientist on the Kepler Mission. "There is a lot more work we need to do with this, but the statistical result is loud and clear, and it is that planets like our own Earth are out there."

End quote.


___
Ref.
Foxnews.com. July 25, 2010. "NASA's Deep Space Camera Locates Host of 'Earths'" (http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/07/25/nasas-deep-space-camera-locates-host-earths/?test=latestnews).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Forty-One Years Ago...

Forty-One Years Ago...

Forty-one years ago humans took their first step on another world and our universe changed. I was NINE years old when this took place. I am FIFTY years old today as I write this blog. And I feel like we have not done a damn thing since.

There was the space truck (i.e the Space Shuttle). Then EVENTUALLY, there was a orbital space station for the space truck to go too. Along the way, we lost two of those dump trucks and on the last one, I lost a former Air Force ROTC classmate who was the commander of that ill-fated mission. I remember I was in a light sleep that morning when I heard the sonic booms and I thought, "Uh oh. Some poor SOB out of Clovis (New Mexico) is going to get their ass chewed out when they return to base.

Forty-One years have passed...and I feel like we still haven't done a damn thing but spin our wheels so to speak. One study after another study. Just enough for the politicians to get through another election cycle and NASA not to do anything really important as far as Manned Space Flight goes.

I fear now that I will not live long enough to see Man land on Mars. I really, really hate that feeling. I really hope that I am wrong on that.

Forty-One Years Ago...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Close-Up of Crop Circle Orb Photographed

A crop circle orb was finally photographed at close range it appears. And it is an amazing photograph! For the full story, please visit the following link (http://www.colinandrews.net/Orb-UFO-BEAMS-CheesefootHead.html#).

UFO Delays Air Travel in China


Discovered this article through the Drudge Report.com. Actual link to article below.

A photograph was taken of the UFO hovering over Hangzhou. The capital of East China's Zhejiang province late Wednesday on July 7, 2010. Photo from Metro Express.

Xiaoshan Airport was closed after the UFO was detected at 9pm. Some flights were redirected to other cities such as Nigbo and Wuxi, said a Chinese spokesman (unnamed of course). Flights were delayed up to 3-4 hours before normal schedules were resumed. Source: China Daily(By Yang Yijun).

The UFO appears to be of the "cigar" class of object with smaller lights (windows?) above the main light/underbelly of the object.

UPDATE (July 11, 2010): From Information Dissemination.net, this is nothing more than rocket debris-they think. Link added below in Ref section.
___
Ref.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

U.S.S. America (LHA-6) and Global Hawks in the news




Discovered the news that Northrop-Grumman won the contract to do the replacement to the Tarawa class Amphib. Did a Google search and found images of the LHA-6 U.S.S. America. Also Cdr Salamander's blog that gave more details about the ship than the corporate website (kinda odd I thought).

Any way, it appears the island on the starboard side is at least as long as the other amphibs in the U.S. Navy. From the CGI images, I'm guessing its slightly narrower than before.

The ship is designed to transport 20+ F-35s (if that program doesn't crash and burn!). Also carries V-22 and CH-53 helicopters. With this ship, the well deck is gone-so no hovercraft like the LCACs.

And like Cdr Salamander, this is basically a baby escort carrier for the 21st century. He wrote down the general characteristics of both the LHA-6 and the old Midway class aircraft carrier.

(Quote)
And yes, I could call it a small CV or CVS - it is the right size.

General Characteristics: LHA-6

Displacement:-Approximately 44,971 long tons full load
Length:-------844 feet (257.3 meters)
Beam:---------106 feet (32.3 meters)
Draft:--------23 feet
Propulsion:---Two marine gas turbines, two shafts, 70,000 total brake horsepower, two 5,000 horsepower auxiliary propulsion motors
Speed:--------20+ knots
Crew:---------1,059 (65 officers)
Load:---------1,687 troops (plus 184 surge)
Armament:-----Two RAM launchers; two NATO Sea Sparrow launchers (with Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM)); two 20mm Phalanx CIWS mounts; seven twin .50 cal. machine guns
Aircraft:-----A mix of: F-35B Joint Strike Fighters (JSF) STOVL aircraft; MV-22 Osprey VTOL tiltrotors; CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters; UH-1Y Huey helicopters; AH-1Z Super Cobra helicopters; MH-60S Seahawk helicopters
Just to compare, remember the USS CORAL SEA (CV-43)?
General characteristics: Midway-class aircraft carrier

Displacement:-45,000 tons
Length:-------968 ft (295 m)
Beam: --------113 ft (34 m) waterline
Draft:--------35 ft (11 m)
Propulsion:---Geared steam turbines 212,000 shp
Speed:--------33 knots (61 km/h)
Crew:---------4,104 officers and men
Armament:-----Original armament:
----------------84 × Bofors 40 mm guns,
----------------68 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
----------------18 × 5"/54 caliber Mark 16 guns
--------------Refit armament:
----------------16 Sea Sparrow
----------------2 close-in weapons systems
Armor:--------Belt: 7.6 inch
Deck:---------3.5 inch
Aircraft carried: Up to 130 (World War II)
45-55 (1980s)

(end Quote).

He then went off on a side-note about naming the following on ships of this class. I personaly like his choices. But I'm still worried that one of the big Ford class nuclear CVNs may not be named after U.S.S. Enterprise. I'm in fact a bit worried that that name will somehow appear on one of these smaller hulls of the America class.

I have also dug into my archives for the blog postings I did on the U.S.S. Enterprise and on the Japanese Helicopter deck destroyers (i.e. Carriers). Both links are below. But I do want to quote part of that article here:

Currently, the 18,000-ton, 610 foot long, Hyuga (DDH 181) is jointed by sister ship Ise. A third ship of this class is still planned. The next carrier will be longer with a flight deck of 763 feet long. It will weigh in at about 25,000 tons. Currently these ships will operate the SH-60s of which 10 to 11 can be carried by the Hyuga class. Crew size is in the 350 personnel range.

Checking out Wikipedia, DDH-181(Hyuga) and sister DDH-182 (Ise), will be able to operate Harriers and F-35 Lightning IIs when they become operational. The ships will then be equipped with a 12 degree ski-jump.

Smaller carriers-they may be named something else to get the funding needed to get them built, but they are coming no matter what. Anyway, links below.

As an aside, also on the Northrop-Grumman website, was this little bit of news about testing of two Global Hawks doing mid-air refueling! Check out that news release as well!


___
Cdr Salamander blog (http://cdrsalamander.blogspot.com/2008/07/uss-america-returns.html).
Northrop-Grumman website (http://www.northropgrumman.com/) & press release for LHA-6 (http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=195497).
Two Global Hawk UAVs Will Conduct mid-air refueling oepration test. (http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=195525).
Link to my post about naming a future carrier U.S.S. Enterprise (http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/2009/08/there-shall-always-be-uss-enterprise.html).
This is my post about Japan's Helicopter Destroyer class Ise (http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/2009/09/japan-is-gettin-back-into-carriers.html).

Monday, June 28, 2010

Amelia Earhart News


Nikumaroro-uninhabited tropical island is believed to be the island that researcher Ric Gillespie thinks Amelia Earhart an Fred Noonan crashed on and eventually died there. This was his tenth expendition to the island since 1989.

Gillespie is the executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircrarft Recovery (TIGHAR) stated the following, "There is evidence on the island suggesting that a castaway was there for weeks and possibly months.

Nikumaroro is a part of the island nation republic Kiribati.

"We noticed that the forest can be an excellent source of water for a castaway in an island where there is no fresh water. After heavy rain, you can easily collect water from the bowl-shaped hollows in the buka trees. We also found a campsite and nine fire features containing thousands of fish, turtle and bird bones. This might suggest that many meals took place there," Gillespie said.

I found this section to be most telling, (Quote) The site is densely vegetated with shrubs known as Scaevola frutescens,and may be where the castaways' last meals were consumed. Indeed, it is here that a partial skeleton of a castaway was found in 1940.

Recovered by British Colonial Service Officer Gerald Gallagher, human remains were described in a forensic report and attributed to an individual "more likely female than male," "more likely white than Polynesian or other Pacific Islander," "most likely between 5 feet 5 inches and 5 feet 9 inches in height." Unfortunately the bones have been lost.

Gillespie believes that many of the bones might have been carried off by crabs, suggesting an unmerciful end for Earhart. (end quote).


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Ref. "Amelia Earhart May Have Survived Months as Castaway" by By Rossella Lorenzi. June 25, 2010. (http://news.discovery.com/history/amelia-earhart-castaway-clues-island.html).

Friday, June 25, 2010

USAF Future

This article by Eric Palmer on his blog echos some concerns that I have been having for several years concerning just what direction our Air Force is heading towards.

Retirement of the B1-B bomber. Taking several squadrons of F-15s and putting them into storage. The great Air Tanker Charlie Foxtrot saga. The T-38 is FINALLY being retired.

Now Palmer goes after the AFA (Air Force Association) for supporting current Air Force policy. And if that policy is bad...

I go into some similar things in a recent posting dealing with the DoD buying Russian helicopters for Afghan military forces.

Anyway, check his blog out.

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Ref. "I call on America, the DOD and the USAF to save the Air Force before it is too late" by Eric Palmer. June 25, 2010.(http://ericpalmer.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/i-call-on-america-the-dod-and-the-usaf-to-save-the-air-force-before-it-is-too-late/).
Aerospace, Technology, Paranormal and UFOS "Depend on your government - to screw things up! DoD Buys Russian Helos" by Don W. Shanks, June , 2010. (http://aerospacedreams.blogspot.com/2010/06/depend-on-your-goverment-to-screw.html).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Depend on Your Goverment - To Screw Things Up! DoD Buys Russian Helos


A very interesting article from the Washington Post by Craig Whitlock today. Entitled, "U.S. military criticized for purchase of Russian copters for Afghan air corps."

The Pentagon has spent $648 million dollars to buy or refurbish 31 Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters for the Afghan National Army Air Corps. NATO codename "Hip." Department of Defense wants to get ten more in 2011, and several dozen more over the next decade. The Mi-17 is an aircraft that is use in Iraq and Pakistan.

The Mi-8/17 "Hip" is a medium size, twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship. Specifically designed by the Russians for the condictions found in Afghanistan when they were there in the 1980s. The Mi-17 is the designation for the export version of the helicopter. Russian armed forces refer to it as the Mi-8MT. The two can be told apart because the Mi-17 has the tail rotor on the port side instead of the starboard side like the Russian military models do.

The type is used all over the world from Bangladesh, Croatia, Czech Republic, India, Kazan, Mexico, Pakistan, and several other nations. Even Canada leases these helicopters through SkyLink Aviation.

So of course when Senators Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.) heard about this - well they just had to stick their noses into it. Basically, Afghanistan should be buying U.S. built aircraft-period. Never mind there wrench that will be through into the "Afghanistanizing" (look ma, created a new word here I think!) of the war.

(Quote): U.S. and Afghan military officials who favor the Mi-17, which was designed for use in Afghanistan, acknowledge that it might seem odd for the Pentagon to invest in Russian military products. But they said that changing helicopter models would throw a wrench into the effort to train Afghan pilots, none of whom can fly U.S.-built choppers.

"If people come and fly in Afghanistan with the Mi-17, they will understand why that aircraft is so important to the future for Afghanistan," said Brig. Gen. Michael R. Boera, the U.S. Air Force general in charge of rebuilding the Afghan air corps. "We've got to get beyond the fact that it's Russian. . . . It works well in Afghanistan."

U.S. military officials have estimated that the Afghan air force won't be able to operate independently until 2016, five years after President Obama has said he intends to start withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. But Boera said that date could slip by at least two years if Congress forces the Afghans to fly U.S. choppers . "Is that what we really want to do?" he asked. (end quote).

And another quote for context as to WHY the US forces went this way on the Mi-17 helicopters. (Quote): Because Afghan airmen had historically trained on Russian choppers, the Pentagon decided to make the Mi-17s the backbone of Afghanistan's fleet. The Soviet Union specifically designed the Mi-17 for use in Afghanistan. U.S. officials say it is well-suited for navigating the altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountains, as well as Afghanistan's desert terrain.

With few reliable roads, helicopters are a primary mode of transport in Afghanistan. (end quote).

The Afghan National Army Air Corps has the following pieces of equipment and number of personnel: Russian-made attack helicopters Mi-35, Italian-designed C-27s (a fixed-wing aircraft used to transport troops and supplies). The air corps so far has 48 aircraft and 3,300 personnel.

Gen. Boera said plans are to expand the Air Corps up to 146 aircraft and 8,000 personnel by the year 2016. While there are Afghan pilots in the Unites States training, so far, only one has graduated. Afghan pilot recuits-many who are illiterate in their own language, have to learn English (which is the official language of flight to begin with).

(Quote): Gen. Mohammed Dawran, chief of the Afghan air corps, said most of those pilots are in their 40s and set in their ways. Requiring them to start fresh on U.S. copters would be an uphill battle.

"They learned the previous system and different ideas," he said in an interview. Most of the veterans also don't know how to fly at night or in poor visibility, when a pilot must rely on an aircraft's instrument panel to navigate. (end quote).

Another contruibing factor is that the Russian hardware is much more basic than the American equipment. Lack of GPS (Global Positioning System) to the maintenance crews using whatever they can get their hands on to make repairs.

Plus, U.S. military officials would like to operate their own Mi-17s for U.S. Special Operations Command for clandestine missions. And the Russians know that - so they have raised the prices for new and used Mi-17s.

But, because of politics, DoD is now "leaning away" from buying Russian hardware. (Quote): "As a 'Buy American' kind of individual, I think it's totally appropriate as we go forward that we continue to assess the program," Army Secretary John McHugh, whose service oversees foreign helicopter purchases, told the Senate Appropriations Committee in March. (end quote).

My take on this is Buy Russian! Go ahead. Seeing how the aerial refueling tanker deal, the F-22 production line stopping too soon, and F-35 deals have "save" the American tax payer so much money over the past 15-20 years... Hell, I say go ahead and buy some Su-27s while you're at it! Personally, I like that twin turbo-fan amphib the Russians have, the Be-200. I would love to see that in US Coast Guard markings.


__
Ref.
Washington Post, June 19, 2010. by Craig Whitlock (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/18/AR2010061805630_pf.html).

Wikipedia, Mi-17 "Hip" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mil_Mi-17). image from Wiki also.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Bob Bigelow's Haunted Ranch-Alien Battle Rumor Exposed.

Article by Gary S. Bekkum was a interesting read. Check out the link in the ref section to read the entire post.

These five paragraphs below caught my eye. Especially the amount of money he has invested in aerospace and now UFO research. And HOW much he is still willing to invest it in.

Quote: Bob Bigelow's company, Bigelow Aerospace, is on the verge of becoming America's foremost private space venture.

According to reports, as quoted by the Bigelow Aerospace website, Bigelow has "already spent about $180 million of his own money so far and has said he is willing to spend up to $320 million more" to develop his space stations and lunar base concept.

When it comes to UFO sightings, the FAA advises Air Traffic Controllers, "Persons wanting to report UFO/unexplained phenomena activity should contact a UFO/unexplained phenomena reporting data collection center, such as Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies."

Bob Bigelow, following shortly after physicist Stephen Hawking's warning to avoid the alien extraterrestrials at all cost, recently told The New York Times that UFOs can have a fatal attraction.

"People have been killed. People have been hurt. It´s more than observational kind of data." (end quote).

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Ref. (http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/163815).