Monday, April 6, 2009

Plans for future re--usable space launch X-plane hatched

Plans for future re--usable space launch X-plane hatched: "

The Air Force Research Laboratory expects to issue a request for information (rfi) ‘any day now’ to industry for a wide spread of structures, systems and control technology that could be used as a the basis for a hypersonic, responsive space launch vehicle X-plane demonstrator.


blog post photo


blog post photo

Booster concept models on display at NSS

(photos Guy Norris)



The rfi is for the follow-on phase to the future responsive access to space technologies (FAST) program which focused on several ground experiments into baseline technology for the future demonstrator. These included an all-composite airframe with warm, cryogenic structures, load-bearing tanks attached to wing box carry-through and thrust structures and thermal protection systems with operable seals and mechanical attachments.

Other ground experiments include adaptive guidance and control subsystems with the ability to re-shape trajectories on-line and mission replanning in response to sub-system failures. Another aspect of FAST has also involved development of a laboratory for exploring concepts for operating a quick-turnaround, reusable space launch vehicle, rapid mission planning, in-flight command and control and ground operations.

Originally dubbed the operationally responsive space (ORS) integrated ground experiment, the new program is expected to be re-named along the lines of the reusable booster system integrated demonstrator to emphasize the X-plane aims of the effort. The AFRL says the rfi is aimed at ‘maturing technology in areas such as structures, guidance and control and fault tolerance.’ The plan will be to demonstrate a high level of integration, culminating in a scaled X-plane vehicle that will show capabilities to technology readiness levels of around 6 (ready for full-scale development) by around the 2017-2018 timeframe.

Concept models of the fly-back winged booster and a similar winged booster with a rocket-powered payload module carried piggy-back, were revealed at the National Space Symposium. The models bore a strong resemblance to the scaled model booster flight tested by Lockheed Martin early in 2008. These tests, conducted in New Mexico, were primarily to investigate guidance and control concepts for the two-stage to orbit vehicle which will be autonomously controlled at speeds for up to Mach 6 for the first-stage and up to Mach 9 and beyond for the second-stage.


(Via On Space.)

Pilot of stolen plane captured

Pilot of stolen plane captured: "The pilot of a small Cessna 172 aircraft reported stolen from a Canadian flight school has been captured, authorities said. The pilot reportedly stole a small Cessna 172 aircraft from a Canadian flight school, flew hundreds of miles across the Midwest, landed on a dirt road in Missouri late Monday and took off on foot, federal officials said.


(Via - U.S..)

Plot to assasinate President Obama foiled.

EDITORS NOTE: Just goes to show, that no matter who is President, there are still those evil forces who want to kill him, just because he's American. Blind hatred of America still thrives even without GW Bush. Glad to see this plot was foiled because it could have sparked a war.

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) -- U.S. officials have taken "very seriously" a plot to assassinate President Barack Obama involving a Syrian man who was arrested late last week in Turkey, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

But the officials strongly cautioned that American presidents are frequent targets of threats that are all watched very carefully, and in this case the alleged plotter did not appear to get anywhere close to Obama during his European tour.

The officials also noted that while Obama gets more threats than usual as the first African-American U.S. president, this particular threat did not force any change to his schedule.

"Life goes on," said one of the officials familiar with the matter, who suggested the threat may be getting more attention because there has been a heavy international focus on Obama's first overseas trip since taking office.

White House officials declined to comment on the matter, citing a policy of not talking about security and threats around the president. U.S. Secret Service officials spoke only briefly about the case.

"We work closely with the host country whenever there is an arrest, which we are doing in this matter," Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said.


NORAD scrambles F-16 to find stolen plane

Editors note: It's good to see NORAD is on its toes in this day and age of new terrorism. Although the stolen aircraft was not a large aircraft or a civilian airliner, a small aircraft could be used to bring deadly toxins and or a dirty bomb into the U.S.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The pilot of a small Cessna 172 aircraft reported stolen from a Canadian flight school landed near a Missouri highway late Monday and took off on foot, federal officials confirmed.
A small Cessna aircraft was stolen from a flight school in Thunder Bay, Canada.

The plane, intercepted and tracked by U.S. military aircraft as it flew across the Midwest, landed on a dirt road off Highway 60, a Department of Homeland Security spokesman said. The pilot then fled on foot.

The plane landed in the town of Ellsinore, population 360, in southern Missouri, a dispatcher with the Carter County Sheriff's Office said.

A spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) said that about 9:20 p.m. ET, the Cessna was flying over southern Missouri, some 20 miles from the Arkansas border, "holding steady" at 3,000 feet -- down from the earlier altitude of 14,000 feet.

The NORAD spokesman, Mike Kucharek, said military pilots who intercepted the Cessna had tried repeatedly to get the pilot's attention and at one point, the pilot appeared to acknowledge that he saw the other aircraft.

"He looked at them," Kucharek said.


SecDef Gates wants to kill F-22

Editor's note: While I agree with SecDef Gates opinion that the F-22 does not have much of a role in the war on terror, killing the F-22 is a terrible short-sighted idea. Although stealth aircraft are not needed over Iraq or Afghanistan, in the near future we most likely will have to deploy military forces to take out nuclear weapons sites in Iran, North Korea and quite possibly Pakistan if that government falls under the control of the Taliban. All three countries have sophisticated radar and anti-aircraft defenses that can only be thwarted by the F-22 and B-2.

Here's CNN's report:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a 2010 Pentagon budget Monday that reflects major changes in the "scope and significance" of Defense Department priorities.

One of the high-profile programs on the chopping block is the Air Force's most expensive fighter, the F-22 Raptor.

The proposed budget cuts several traditional big-ticket items while investing in programs designed to bolster the military's ability to wage an ongoing conflict against terrorists and other extremist elements in multiple regions at the same time.

Gates acknowledged that parts of the budget are likely to run into significant opposition on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are concerned in part about preserving valuable defense contracts for their districts and states.

"This is a reform budget, reflecting lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan," Gates said. "There's no question that a lot of these decisions will be controversial."

He called on Congress to "rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interests of the nation as a whole."

House Armed Service Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, acknowledged that congressmen have concerns about job losses in their home districts but said that ultimately, "the national interest overrides anything."

"The buck stops with us," he said. "We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us."

Three key priorities are reflected in the changes, Gates said.

The priorities are a stronger institutional commitment to the military's all-volunteer force, a decision to "rebalance" defense programs to better fight current and future conflicts, and "fundamental overhauls" of the military's procurement, acquisition and contracting process.

Among other things, Gates called for production of the Air Force's most expensive fighter, the F-22 Raptor, to be phased out by fiscal year 2011.

He also called for terminating a proposed fleet of 23 presidential helicopters estimated to cost more than $13 billion. The proposed fleet, he noted, was originally projected to cost $6.5 billion. It "has fallen six years behind schedule and runs the risk of not delivering the requested capability," he said.

Gates maintained that a new fleet of presidential helicopters will still ultimately be necessary, however.



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