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+ - Air Force requests info for new engine

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Corporate welfare: The Air Force on Thursday issued a request for information from industry for the replacement of the Russian-made engines used by ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

Companies are being asked to respond by Sept. 19 to 35 questions. Among them: “What solution would you recommend to replace the capability currently provided by the RD-180 engine?” Air Force officials have told Congress they only have a broad idea of how to replace the RD-180. Estimates of the investment in money and time necessary to field an American-built alternative vary widely. Congress, meanwhile, is preparing bills that would fund a full-scale engine development program starting next year; the White House is advocating a more deliberate approach that begins with an examination of applicable technologies.

In the request for information, the Air Force says it is open to a variety of options including an RD-180 facsimile, a new design, and alternative configurations featuring multiple engines, and even a brand new rocket. The Air Force is also trying to decide on the best acquisition approach. Options include a traditional acquisition or a shared investment as part of a public-private partnership. [emphasis mine]

The Atlas 5 is built by Lockheed Martin. This is really their problem, not the Air Force or ULA. In addition, the Air Force has other options, both from Boeing’s Delta rocket family as well as SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. For the government to fund this new engine is nothing more than corporate welfare, at a time when the federal government is swimming in debt and is essentially bankrupt."

+ - NASA's Space Launch System searches for a mission

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Managers of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) are searching for a mission that they can propose and convince Congress to fund.

Any honest read of this article will conclude that this very expensive rocket system is an absurd waste of money. It has no mission now, and will never get one considering the cost. Instead, NASA will spend billions to fly two test flights, both unmanned, and then the money will run out."

+ - Arianespace and ESA sign contract for three launches

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Arianespace and the European Space Agency (ESA) signed a contract on Thursday for the Ariane 5 rocket to launch 12 more of Europe’s Galileo GPS satellites on three launches.

This contract is a perfect example of European pork. Europe’s Galileo system might provide competition to the U.S. GPS and Russian Glonass systems, but I am not sure what additional capabilities it provides that will convince GPS users to switch to it. Instead, building it provides European jobs, while using the Ariane 5 rocket to launch it gives that increasingly uncompetitive rocket some work to do. In fact, this situation really reminds me of the U.S. launch market in the 1990s, when Boeing and Lockheed Martin decided that, rather than compete with Russia and ESA for the launch market, they instead decided to rely entirely on U.S. government contracts, since those contracts didn’t really demand that they reduce their costs significantly to compete.

Europe now appears to be heading down that same road."

+ - Two additional Russian rocket engines arrive in the U.S.

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Despite tensions over the Ukraine, a Russian cargo plane on Wednesday delivered two more Russian rocket engines to Alabama for their refurbishment and use in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket.

This delivery gives ULA some additional breathing room. It the additional deliveries scheduled for later this year and early in 2015 happen, they will have even more breathing room for more Atlas 5 launches. Even so, their dependence on Russian engines is something that limits the company’s competitiveness in the emerging aggressive launch market."

+ - Smartphone Kill Switch A Consumer Safe Haven Or Just More Government 'Tyranny'?->

Submitted by MojoKid
MojoKid (1002251) writes "We're often told that having a kill switch in our mobile devices — mostly our smartphones — is a good thing. At a basic level, that's hard to disagree with. If every mobile device had a built-in kill switch, theft would go down — who would waste their time over a device that probably won't work for very long? Here's where the problem lays: It's law enforcement that's pushing so hard for these kill switches. We first learned about this last summer, and this past May, California passed a law that requires smartphone vendors to implement the feature. In practice, if a smartphone has been stolen, or has been somehow compromised, its user or manufacturer would be able to remotely kill off its usability, something that would be reversed once the phone gets back into its rightful owner's hands. However, such functionality should be limited to the device's owner, and no one else. If the owner can disable a phone with nothing but access to a computer or another mobile device, so can Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia or Apple. If the designers of a phone's operating system can brick a phone, guess who else can do the same? Everybody from the NSA to your friendly neighborhood police force, that's who. At most, all they'll need is a convincing argument that they're acting in the interest of 'public safety.'"
Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists baffled by unknown source of CFCs 3

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Scientists have found that, despite their complete ban since 2007, ozone-depleting CFCs are still being pumped into the atmosphere from some unknown source.

Carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), which was once used in applications such as dry cleaning and as a fire-extinguishing agent, was regulated in 1987 under the Montreal Protocol along with other chlorofluorocarbons that destroy ozone and contribute to the ozone hole over Antarctica. Parties to the Montreal Protocol reported zero new CCl4 emissions between 2007-2012.

However, the new research shows worldwide emissions of CCl4 average 39 kilotons (about 43,000 U.S. tons) per year, approximately 30 percent of peak emissions prior to the international treaty going into effect. "We are not supposed to be seeing this at all," said Qing Liang, an atmospheric scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and lead author of the study published online in the Aug. 18 issue of Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union. "It is now apparent there are either unidentified industrial leakages, large emissions from contaminated sites, or unknown CCl4 sources."

Note: CCI4s were previously referred to as CFCs, which is to the public the more familiar abbreviation.

That there seems to be an unknown source of CFCs suggests strongly that the entire theory of CFCs destroying the ozone layer is faulty. If CFCs were being produced naturally in the past then the ozone layer should not exist based on this theory. That it does exist says the CFCs are not harmful to it and were banned unnecessarily."

+ - Man arrested, strip-searched after photographing NYPD wins $125,000->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Settlement comes weeks after a bystander's video captured NYPD chokehold arrest.

A New York man who claimed police arrested and strip-searched him after he photographed a stop-and-frisk of three African-American youths has settled his civil rights suit with the New York Police Department for $125,000.

The settlement, first reported Monday by the Daily News, comes weeks after the NYPD reminded its officers that it was legal to peacefully record police activity. That department-wide memo followed the videotaped NYPD arrest of a man who died after being subdued by a chokehold last month.
The NYPD settled with a man named Dick George, who alleged that while he was sitting in his parked car in Flatbush in 2012, he saw two NYPD officers get out of an unmarked car and perform what is known as a stop-and-frisk of three youths. George said he captured the search on his mobile phone. He claimed he went up to the youths and told them next time that happens to make sure they get the officers' badge numbers.

He said the two officers overheard his comments, followed him briefly in his vehicle and then arrested him for disorderly conduct—and strip-searched him at the station.

After being held for about an hour, he was released. He said he injured a knee during his arrest, and the cops erased his photographs from his mobile phone."

Link to Original Source

+ - Scientists find traces of sea plankton on ISS surface->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "An experiment of taking samples from illuminators and the ISS surface has brought unique results, as scientists had found traces of sea plankton there, the chief of an orbital mission on Russia’s ISS segment told reporters.

Results of the scope of scientific experiments which had been conducted for a quite long time were summed up in the previous year, confirming that some organisms can live on the surface of the International Space Station (ISS) for years amid factors of a space flight, such as zero gravity, temperature conditions and hard cosmic radiation. Several surveys proved that these organisms can even develop.

He noted that it was not quite clear how these microscopic particles could have appeared on the surface of the space station."

Link to Original Source

+ - Boston PD Tested Facial Recognition SW by Recording All Faces At Music Festivals->

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Concertgoers at last year’s annual Boston Calling music festivals weren’t just there to watch the show — they were watched themselves as test subjects for Boston police’ new facial recognition technology, which reportedly analyzed every attendee at the May and September two-day events.

Employees at IBM — the outside contractor involved in deploying the tech alongside Boston Police — planned the test of its Smart Surveillance System and Intelligent Video Analytics to execute “face capture” on “every person” at the concerts in 2013. Targets were reportedly described “as anyone who walks through the door,” according to company memos obtained by Dig Boston.

Using 10 cameras capable of intelligent video analysis, police and IBM captured thousands of faces and scanned individuals for details including skin color, height and clothing to screen for possible forensic identification. The tech also watched traffic and crowd congestion, searched for suspicious objects and monitored social media in real-time.

Attendees and promoters were wholly unaware of the test, which was conducted amid a slew of media and photographers regularly in attendance and during a public event where the expectation of privacy is at a minimum. Sensitive documents detailing the program were found unsecured online, where they’ve reportedly been accessible for more than a year.

The images, video and information obtained by the program will be kept for months and years."

Link to Original Source

+ - Feds: Red light camera firm paid for Chicago official's car, condo

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "The former CEO of Redflex, a major red light camera vendor, and John Bills, former Managing Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Transportation, have been indicted on federal corruption charges stemming from a contract with the City of Chicago. According to the indictment, a friend of Bills was hired as a contractor and paid $2 million. Much of that money was then kicked back to Bills, who also got a Mercedes and a condominium via Redflex employees. The defendants are facing 23 counts including: mail fraud, wire fraud, and bribery. Each fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years."

Comment: Another sign NASA is circling the drain ... (Score 3, Insightful) 160

by schwit1 (#47678997) Attached to: The Flight of Gifted Engineers From NASA

NASA headquarters staff votes to unionize.
http://www.ifpte.org/news/deta...

Anyone with the slightest objectivity knows that the working conditions for federal employees in Washington is glorious, with pay about double what everyone else in the country makes and benefits far exceeding even the best private packages. In addition, the hours are great and just slightly longer than what my generation would have called bankers’ hours. Moreover, if I can be blunt, these engineers are mostly paper pushers. They are not the one’s designing and building anything that might fly in space. Their only reason to unionize now is because they see a threat to their cushy jobs with the advent of private space and are organizing to secure their unneeded positions.

+ - The flight of gifted engineers from NASA

Submitted by schwit1
schwit1 (797399) writes "Rather than work in NASA, the best young engineers today are increasingly heading to get jobs at private companies like SpaceX and XCOR.

It is a long article, worth reading in its entirety, but this quote will give the essence:

As a NASA engineering co-op student at Johnson Space Center, Hoffman trained in various divisions of the federal space agency to sign on eventually as a civil servant. She graduated from college this year after receiving a generous offer from NASA, doubly prestigious considering the substantial reductions in force hitting Johnson Space Center in recent months. She did have every intention of joining that force — had actually accepted the offer, in fact — when she received an invitation to visit a friend at his new job with rising commercial launch company SpaceX.

Hoffman took him up on the offer, flying out to Los Angeles in the spring for a private tour. Driving up to the SpaceX headquarters, she was struck by how unassuming it was, how small compared to NASA, how plain on the outside and rather like a warehouse.

As she walked through the complex, she was also surprised to find open work areas where NASA would have had endless hallways, offices and desks. Hoffman described SpaceX as resembling a giant workshop, a hive of activity in which employees stood working on nitty-gritty mechanical and electrical engineering. Everything in the shop was bound for space or was related to space. No one sat around talking to friends in the morning, “another level from what you see at NASA,” she said. “They’re very purpose-driven. It looked like every project was getting the attention it deserved.”

Seeing SpaceX in production forced Hoffman to acknowledge NASA might not be the best fit for her. The tour reminded her of the many mentors who had gone into the commercial sector of the space industry in search of better pay and more say in the direction their employers take. She thought back to the attrition she saw firsthand at Johnson Space Center and how understaffed divisions struggled to maintain operations.

At NASA young engineers find that they spend a lot of time with bureaucracy, the pace is slow, their projects often get canceled or delayed, and the creative job satisfaction is poor. At private companies like SpaceX, things are getting built now. With that choice, no wonder the decision to go private is increasingly easy."

It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.

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