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Submission + - NRO to declassify Cold-War Spy Sat Tech (

Muad'Dave writes: The National Reconnaissance Office is set to reveal details of two of the cold war's most capable spy satellite programs on September 17th — the GAMBIT and HEXAGON projects, aka the keyhole KH-7, -8, and -9 satellites. These bus-sized sats provided critical imagery during the height of the cold war, and were likely the inspiration for the movie "Ice Station Zebra".

The article links midway down the first page provide a fascinating look into the world of real spy-vs-spy, cloak-and-dagger intelligence gathering.


Submission + - US Air Force secret X-37B orbiter lands

Muad'Dave writes: The US Air Force's secret X-37B orbiter landed at Vandenberg AFB early this morning. Amateur satellite watchers determined the orbit and detected several orbital maneuvers. From the press release:

30th Space Wing Public Affairs

12/3/2010 — VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The U.S. Air Force's first unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 1:16 a.m. today.

The X-37B, named Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1), conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. It fired its orbital maneuver engine in low-earth orbit to perform an autonomous reentry before landing.

The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO), the X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.

"Today's landing culminates a successful mission based on close teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office," said Lt Col Troy Giese, X-37B program manager from the AFRCO. "We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission."

OTV-1's de-orbit and landing mark the transition from the on-orbit demonstration phase to a refurbishment phase for the program.

The Air Force is preparing to launch the next X-37B, OTV-2, in Spring 2011 aboard an Atlas V booster.

Submission + - Has NASA found ET? (

Muad'Dave writes: "NASA is expected to make an announcement Thursday (Dec. 2) about a new scientific finding that 'will impact the search for extraterrestrial life,' the space agency said in a statement." Has NASA found ET, or just an exoplanet that looks promising? Maybe they found a fossil on Mars...

Submission + - Target pharmacy begins scanning driver's licences 2

Muad'Dave writes: This evening I picked up my regular prescriptions at my local Target pharmacy. As I was paying for them, the cashier asked to 'see my ID'. That was not typical, but I assumed she was going to verify the photo. Before I could stop her, she flipped it over without looking at the front and scanned the 2D barcode on the back. I asked her why she did that, and her answer was that the system 'required' it.

I went to the customer service desk and asked them why they thought they were entitled to scan my license. Their first answer was that it was a convenient way to validate my birthday, and that was all that was on the 2D barcode. When I mentioned that I know there's more data than that, she then said that it was a convenient way to verify that the ID was present. I mentioned that verifying the presence of an ID required more data than the DOB, and she agreed, contradicting her earlier statement that all they scanned was the DOB.

The is a Federal law addressing who can and cannot scan licenses, but it's so full of loopholes as to be useless.

Apparently I'm not the only one bothered by their attitude on privacy.

Have you been subjected to this invasion of your privacy by Target?

Submission + - Rises From the Ashes

Muad'Dave writes: From

Systemax Inc. is Re-Launching the Circuit City brand with new Lower Prices, new Wider Selection, new Faster Shipping, and a better 24/7 Customer First Service Department.

Circuit City served American Shoppers for 60 Years. We're here to continue that tradition online with lower prices and special deals, a better selection of the products you want most, award winning customer service and same day shipping, starting at $1.99.

Submission + - Satellite debris forces ISS crew into rescue craft

Muad'Dave writes: CNN is reporting that the crew of the International Space Station was forced to take refuge from a possible collision of the ISS with a piece of space debris Thursday. From the article:

"Floating debris from a satellite forced the crew of the international space station to retreat to a safety capsule Thursday, according to a NASA news release. .. The debris was too close for the space station to move out of the way, so the station's 18 crew members were temporarily evacuated to a the station's Soyuz TMA-13 capsule, NASA said."

Submission + - Cheap, super-efficient LEDs on the horizon

Muad'Dave writes: According to this article, cheap Gallium Nitride LEDs are now possible, thanks to a process that controls the rate at which GaN shrinks when cooled, making it possible to grow GaN on silicon.

"They included layers of aluminium gallium nitride in their LED design. These layers shrink at a much slower rate during cooling and help to counteract the fast-shrinkage of pure gallium nitride. These LEDs can be grown on silicon as so many other electronics components are."

"A 15-centimetre silicon wafer costs just $15 and can accommodate 150,000 LEDs making the cost per unit tiny. That levels the playing field with CFLs, which many people only ever saw as a stopgap solution to the lighting problem."

Submission + - Circuit City To Be Liquidated

Muad'Dave writes: According to an MSNBC article, Circuit City Stores will be liquidating all of their inventory in 567 stores. Only a few years ago, Circuit City was the #1 electronics retailer, and its stock was over $100/share.

Submission + - Circuit City up against Jan. 16th 'hard deadline'

Muad'Dave writes: Circuit City's lifeclock is winding down, according to this CNN article. The article states that Circuit City is such bad shape that " has until the end of next week to reach a deal with "interested" parties to help it stay in business or else it may have to start liquidating.

'Circuit City is coming up against a very hard deadline,' said Justin MacFarlane, director with turnaround firm AlixPartners. 'If they can't find a buyer [then] there's a real risk of the company going out of business.'"

Submission + - Election Poll Suggestion

Muad'Dave writes: How about a poll asking, "Who do you _want_ to win the election, and who do you _think_ will win the election?"
  • McCain/McCain
  • McCain/Obama
  • Obama/Obama
  • Obama/McCain
  • Cowboy Neal/Cthulhu

Submission + - The Re-Entry of ATV: One Final Experiment

Muad'Dave writes: The SETI Institute, in cooperation with the European Space Agency is organizing a mission to record the fiery breakup of the ATV/Jules Verne spacecraft as it re-enters Earth's atmosphere on September 29th.

From the article:

A documentation of the breakup process could help validate the models built to study how that fragmentation evolves in a series of disruptions of major components. At reentry into the atmosphere, ATV would execute one final experiment before the mission completion. Our experience with meteor spectroscopy carried the promise of perhaps being able to identify some of the fragments from their radiation signatures. The ATV-1 "Jules Verne" Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign was born.

Submission + - Flying Spaghetti Monster spotted; magnet-powered!

Muad'Dave writes: Our Lord FSM has been spotted, and is apparently powered by giant magnetic fields. No word on when His Noodliness will approach our world.

From the article:
Long-lived magnetic fields are sustaining a mammoth network of spaghetti-like gas filaments around a black hole, a new study suggests. Previously, it was not clear what prevented the delicate filaments from being destroyed by competing gravitational forces.

Submission + - Opportunity Takes a Dip Into Victoria Crater (

Muad'Dave writes: From the NASA News Release:

Today, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity entered Victoria Crater for the first time. It radioed home information via a relay by NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, reporting its activities for the day. Opportunity drove far enough in — about four meters (13 feet) — to get all six wheels past the crater rim. Then it backed uphill for about three meters (10 feet). The driving commands for the day included a precaution for the rover to stop driving if its wheels were slipping more than 40 percent. Slippage exceeded that amount on the last step of the drive, so Opportunity stopped with its front pair of wheels still inside the crater.

This marks the beginning of perhaps the greatest 'Opportunity' for new discoveries on Mars.

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