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.

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.

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.

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.

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).