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2008, The Year of the Spaceship 126

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the need-to-win-the-lottery-and-buy-a-ride dept.
DynaSoar writes "2008 Could be a the year of the Spaceship. Virgin Galactic intends to unveil White Knight 2 as well as Spaceship 2 during the next year, at this point planning for January. Burt Rutan, always reticent to comments on progress of any project, says nothing to support or contradict Virgin Galactic's announcement. However, the report states that Spaceship 2 is 50% complete and White Knight 2 is 60% complete. In addition, Virgin Galactic is considering using White Knight 2, or possible its successor White Knight 3, to put small satellites in orbit for a cost of US$3 million, less than half the current front runner in (projected) low cost orbital launches; SpaceX's Falcon at US$6.7 million. Tourism aside, this could be an extremely lucrative spin off of Virgin Galactic's original plans. If this turns out to be a profitable endeavor, the cost of tourism flights could drop significantly."
The Courts

Verizon Claims Free Speech Over NSA Wiretapping 391

Posted by Zonk
from the corporations-shold-have-the-right-to-have-babies dept.
xvx writes "Verizon is claiming that they have the right to hand over customer information to the US government under the First Amendment. 'Essentially, the argument is that turning over truthful information to the government is free speech, and the EFF and ACLU can't do anything about it. In fact, Verizon basically argues that the entire lawsuit is a giant SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit, and that the case is an attempt to deter the company from exercising its First Amendment right to turn over customer calling information to government security services.'"

Censoring a Number 1046

Posted by kdawson
from the you-can't-copyright-that dept.
Rudd-O writes "Months after successful discovery of the HD-DVD processing key, an unprecedented campaign of censorship, in the form of DMCA takedown notices by the MPAA, has hit the Net. For example Spooky Action at a Distance was killed. More disturbingly, my story got Dugg twice, with the second wave hitting 15,500 votes, and today I found out it had simply disappeared from Digg. How long until the long arm of the MPAA gets to my own site (run in Ecuador) and the rest of them holding the processing key? How long will we let rampant censorship go on, in the name of economic interest?" How long before the magic 16-hex-pairs number shows up in a comment here?

Paul Graham Claims "Microsoft is Dead" 536

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the don't-fear-the-reaper dept.
netbuzz writes "He doesn't mean dead as in six feet under, but rather that the software giant no longer instills the kind of fear — particularly among entrepreneurs — that it did back in the day when it was making road kill out of companies like Netscape. Microsoft obits have been around for almost as long as the company, but Graham's stature, style and devoted following are likely to make this one a classic."
Portables (Apple)

+ - iPods, Google-Earth at War in Iraq

Submitted by
Boulainvilliers writes: "Policy Review reports that the U.S. Army started to use iPods and Google-Earth in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army first created its internal version of MySpace, with personal profiles, photos, bios, and information on soldiers' professional backgrounds, open only to U.S. Army commanders. CompanyCommand.com, privately founded by four officers in 2000, grew to 6,200 members by the end of 2006, when the site was viewed about a million times per year. "It's not just information; it's a personal story, and commanders are able to connect with their peers who share their knowledge." the report, "War 2.0", quotes one of the site's founders. The operators now "equip commanders on their way to Afghanistan with new iPods, fully loaded with video-podcasted interviews with fellow commanders on their way out." The journal also reports that U.S. officers started to use Google-Earth to map and document conversations with civilians and local leaders, to create "a spatially and temporally mapped track-record of trusted or problematic relationships that can be shared with other soldiers.""

NASA Outlines Asteroid Deflection Program 129

Posted by Zonk
from the please-destroy-ben-affleck-as-a-side-effect dept.
An anonymous reader submitted a link to an International Herald Tribune story about NASA's answer to the movie 'Armageddon'. Specifically, they've outlined a plan to deflect a planet-killer asteroid. "In 1998, Congress gave NASA's Spaceguard Survey program a mandate of 'discovering, tracking, cataloging and characterizing' 90 percent of the near-Earth objects larger than one kilometer (3,200 feet) wide by 2008. An object that size would probably destroy civilization. The consensus at the conference was that the initial survey is doing fairly well although it will probably not quite meet the 2008 goal." With this tracking system in place, scientists are hopeful an intervention could be staged before any grim choices have to be made. Assuming they have the money and manpower needed for the effort, NASA has actually outlined a pair of procedures that dove-tail with each other: "First we would deflect the asteroid with kinetic impact from a missile (that is, running into it); then we would use the slight pull of a 'gravity tractor' -- a satellite that would hover near the asteroid -- to fine-tune its new trajectory to our liking. (In the case of an extremely large object, probably one in 100, the missile might have to contain a nuclear warhead.) To be effective, however, such missions would have to be launched 15 or even 30 years before a calculated impact."
United States

US Missle Interceptor Tests a Success 391

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pull! dept.
An anonymous reader writes to mention that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Lockheed Martin recently reported success in the test flight of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system. "THAAD is designed to defend U.S. troops, allied forces, population centers and critical infrastructure against short- to intermediate range ballistic missiles. THAAD comprises a fire control and communications system, interceptors, launchers and a radar. The THAAD interceptor uses hit-to-kill technology to destroy targets, and is the only weapon system that engages threat ballistic missiles at both endo- and exo-atmospheric altitudes."

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.