Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shuttle rescheduled for Mid -December

At NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians plan to install reference dots on space shuttle Discovery's ground umbilical carrier plate, or GUCP, to monitor for movement during tanking. The work was expected to be completed yesterday, but was delayed by rain.

The shuttle's crew is practicing on-orbit tasks today in the motion base simulator at the astronauts' training base at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Discovery's launch is currently targeted for no earlier than Dec. 17, after shuttle managers determined more tests and analysis are needed.

The Program Requirements Control Board reviewed on Nov. 23 repairs and engineering evaluations associated with cracks on two 21-foot-long, U-shaped aluminum brackets, called stringers, on the shuttle's external tank. Managers decided the analysis and tests required to launch Discovery safely are not complete. The work will continue through this week.

The next status review by the PRCB will be Thursday, Dec. 2. If managers clear Discovery for launch on Dec. 17, the preferred time is about 8:51 p.m. EST.

Wikileaks Under DDOS attack ...

Washington (CNN) -- After posting thousands of secret government documents, WikiLeaks came under an electronic attack designed to make it unavailable to users, the whistle-blower website said Tuesday.
The site also experienced a distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack on Sunday, just as it was publishing the first of what it says are 250,000 secret U.S. diplomatic cables. Such attacks normally are done by flooding a website with requests for data.

"DDOS attack now exceeding 10 Gigabits a second," WikiLeaks said on Twitter.
The effects of Tuesday's electronic disruption were unclear.
WikiLeaks recovered from Sunday's disruption and began publishing cables from U.S. embassies around the world, documents that the website said represented the largest-ever disclosure of confidential information. Those documents give the world "an unprecedented insight into the U.S. government's foreign activities," the site said.

WikiLeaks drew widespread condemnation for publishing the confidential cables that in some instances, detailed with unusual frankness Washington's diplomatic interactions with other countries.

Wkileaks: China weary of North Korea

CNN: The New York Times suggest Chinese officials are losing patience with long-time ally North Korea. Senior figures in Beijing have even described the regime in the North as behaving like a "spoiled child."

According to cables obtained by WikiLeaks, South Korea's then vice foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, said earlier this year that senior Chinese officials (whose names are redacted in the cables) had told him they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul's control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing.

Chun was quoted at length in a cable sent by the U.S. ambassador in Seoul, Kathleen Stephens, earlier this year. He is reported as saying that "the North had already collapsed economically and would collapse politically two to three years after the death of (leader) Kim Jong-il."

Chun, who has since become South Korea's National Security Adviser, dismissed the prospect of China's military intervention in the event of a North Korean collapse, noting that "China's strategic economic interests now lie with the United States, Japan, and South Korea -- not North Korea."
China ready to abandon North Korea? Governments react to leaked cables Six party talks with North.

He said that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula, according to a secret cable to Washington.

In a separate cable from January this year, then-South Korean Foreign Mnister Yu Myung-Hwan is quoted as telling U.S. diplomats that "the North Korean leader [Kim Jong Il] needed both Chinese economic aid and political support to stabilize an 'increasingly chaotic' situation at home."

The cables suggest China is frustrated in its relationship with Pyongyang. One from April 2009 quoted Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei as saying that "North Korea wanted to engage directly with the United States and was therefore acting like a "spoiled child" in order to get the attention of the "adult." The cable continued: "China therefore encouraged the United States, 'after some time,' to start to re-engage the DPRK."

In October 2009, a cable sent from Beijing recounted a meeting between U.S. diplomats and Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who had recently met Kim Jong Il. According to the leaked cable, Dai noted that Kim had lost weight when compared to when he last saw him three years earlier, but that

Kim appeared to be in reasonably good health and still had a "sharp mind."
Dai also spoke about Kim's liking for alcohol. The cable continued: "Kim Jong-il had a reputation among the Chinese for being 'quite a good drinker,' and, Dai said, he had asked Kim if he still drank alcohol. Kim said yes."

The North Koreans told Dai that they wanted to have dialogue with the United States first and that they would consider next steps, including possible multilateral talks, depending on their conversation with the United States. North Korea held "great expectations for the United States," said Dai.

North Korea: "All-out war any time."

(CNN) -- North Korea warned Tuesday that the continuing military drills by the United States and South Korea could lead to "all-out war any time."

The firmly-worded message was published in North Korea's state-run KCNA news service.
"If the U.S. and the South Korean war-like forces fire even a shell into the inviolable land and territorial waters of the DPRK, they will have to pay dearly for this," the news service report said.
South Korea and the United States launched joint anti-submarine military exercises on Monday, drawing consternation from North Korea.

Seoul and Washington postponed the exercises earlier this month because of a tropical storm. The drills, which are to run through Friday, are "designed to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea," U.S. Forces Korea have said.
U.S. officials have said the exercises off the western coast of the Korean peninsula are in response to North Korea's sinking of a South Korean warship in March.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wkileaks surprised by extent of spying

CNN) -- Secrets-busting website WikiLeaks, which began publishing a giant trove of confidential U.S. government papers on Sunday, didn't expect the papers to reveal as much espionage as they apparently do, a spokesman said Monday.

"I was surprised at (the) extent of the spying," Kristinn Hrafnsson told CNN.
WikiLeaks claims it has 251,288 cables sent by American diplomats between the end of 1966 and February 2010, which it will release piecemeal over the course of weeks or months, Hrafnsson said.

Among the revelations in the papers are allegations that:
--Saudi King Abdullah urged the United States to attack Iran to halt its nuclear program, warning that if Tehran went nuclear, other countries in the region would, too
--The United States keeps bombers ready to strike al Qaeda targets in Yemen if "actionable intelligence becomes available"
--The U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe predicted in July 2007 that President Robert Mugabe would soon be out of power, saying, "The End is Nigh." Mugabe remains president to this day, although he is now in a power-sharing agreement with the former opposition.

The leaked papers also include what seems to be an order from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to American diplomats to engage in intelligence-gathering.
WikiLeaks: Public has 'right to know' WikiLeaks holds back -- some New leaks in 'public's interest'

Clinton directed her envoys at embassies around the world to collect information ranging from basic biographical data on diplomats to their frequent flyer and credit card numbers, and even "biometric information on ranking North Korean diplomats."
Typical biometric information includes fingerprints, signatures, and iris recognition data.
The cable, simply signed 'CLINTON,' is classified S/NF -- or 'Secret/No Foreign' -- and was sent to 33 embassies and the U.N. mission offices in New York, Vienna, and Rome.
"Is it a natural part of diplomatic activity to have diplomats collecting biometric data?" WikiLeaks spokesman Hrafnsson asked Monday, calling it "a contravention of how diplomats are supposed to conduct business."

The State Department denied its diplomats were spies.
"Contrary to some Wikileaks' reporting, our diplomats are diplomats. They are not intelligence assets," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Twitter.
He further downplayed the cable's significance by writing in a separate tweet: "Diplomats collect information that shapes our policies and actions. Diplomats for all nations do the same thing."
WikiLeaks spokesman Hrafnsson denied that Sunday's release of papers harms United States security.

"I don't believe anything in these cables are national security concerns," he said.
"If we are talking about strained relations or embarrassment, that does not fall into national security concerns," he said with a shrug.

"Secret" is not the highest level of classification, Hrafnsson pointed out. WikiLeaks does not have any top secret documents, he added.
More than half are unclassified, he said.

"Jester" attacks Wikileaks.

(CNN) -- A computer hacker who calls himself "The Jester" claimed responsibility for the cyber attack which took down the WikiLeaks site Sunday, shortly before it started posting hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. diplomatic cables.

The Jester, who describes himself as a "hacktivist for good," said he took the controversial site down "for attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, 'other assets' & foreign relations."
He normally attacks Islamist websites, announcing "TANGO DOWN" on his Twitter account when claiming to have attacked a site. "Tango Down" is Special Forces jargon for having eliminated a terrorist.

Over the past few days, the Jester has targeted a handful of websites for reasons including "online incitement to cause young Muslims to carry out acts of violent jihad," "distributing jihadist instructional materials," and "for the online radicalization of young Muslims in US and Europe."
WikiLeaks holds back -- some New leaks in 'public's interest' What is WikiLeaks? WikiLeaks: Public has 'right to know'

The Jester describes himself as "an ex-soldier with a rather famous unit, country purposely not specified."

"I was involved with supporting Special Forces, I have served in (and around) Afghanistan amongst other places," he told the website threatchaos.com early this year.
WikiLeaks said in September that it had prepared an unspecified "insurance policy" against its site being taken down.

"This annoyed me... so I got busy," the Jester wrote on his blog in September.
Cyber security expert Mikko Hypponen of F-Secure believes the Jester was really behind the hack, he told CNN.

WikiLeaks was down for several hours Sunday, spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said Monday.
He said he did not know who was behind it, and he seemed surprised when CNN told him an anti-Islamist hacker was taking credit.

WikiLeaks excites "a lot of strong emotions," Hrafnsson said.

The hacker did not immediately respond to CNN requests for comment. WikiLeaks posted that it was under attack at about 11 a.m. ET Sunday, not long before its latest and largest leak.

The site seemed to be running normally as of early Monday morning.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

US and South Korea begin military exercises

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korea and the United States started joint military exercises Sunday, U.S. Forces Korea spokesman David Oten told CNN, prompting a furious response from North Korea.

The naval operations are "no more than an attempt to find a pretext for aggression and ignite a war at any cost," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said, warning that the drills "are putting the Korean Peninsula at a state of ultra-emergency."

North Korea warned of unpredictable "consequences" if the United States sends an aircraft carrier to the Yellow Sea for the military maneuvers.
The divided peninsula, tense at the best of times, has been near the boiling point since Tuesday, when North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.

China called Sunday for an emergency meeting of the six major powers involved in talks about the Korean peninsula.
Top diplomats from the six nations need to meet soon to "maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and ease the tension" in the region, Beijing's special representative for the region, Wu Dawei, said Sunday.

South Korea said Sunday it did not think the time was right for a resumption of the Six-Party talks, then added that its comment was not a response to China's call for an emergency meeting, which Seoul said it would "bear in mind.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Portland Christmas Tree Bomber Foiled

(CNN) -- A 19-year-old has been arrested in connection with a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon, on Friday evening, the Justice Department announced.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Somalia, was arrested on suspicion of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He is a resident of Corvallis, Oregon, and a student at Oregon State University, according to the FBI.

Mohamud was arrested by the FBI and Portland Police Bureau after he attempted to detonate what he believed to be an explosives-laden van that was parked near the tree-lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square, the Justice
Department said in a written statement, but the device was actually inert.

"The threat was very real. Our investigation shows that Mohamud was absolutely committed to carrying out an attack on a very grand scale," said Arthur Balizan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Oregon. "At the same time, I want to reassure the people of this community that, at every turn, we denied him the ability to actually carry out the attack."
The arrest was the culmination of a long-term undercover operation during which Mohamud had been monitored closely as his alleged bomb plot developed, the Justice Department said. Officials said the public was never in danger from the device.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit written by an FBI special agent, Mohamud was in e-mail communication in August 2009 with a person believed to be involved in terrorist activities. In December, that person was "located in the northwest frontier province of Pakistan," the affidavit states.

The two communicated regularly, the affidavit states, and "using coded language, they discussed the possibility of Mohamud traveling to Pakistan to prepare for violent jihad."
Mohamud attempted to contact another associate who he thought would help facilitate his travel overseas, the affidavit states, but "because Mohamud used the wrong e-mail address in his efforts to contact [the second associate], he never successfully contacted him to arrange travel."

An undercover FBI employee contacted Mohamud in June under the guise of being affiliated with the associate who was in Pakistan, according to the affidavit. Mohamud met with the undercover operative on July 30 in Portland.
Mohamud allegedly told the undercover operative that he had written articles that were published in Jihad Recollections, an online magazine that advocated violent jihad.

"Mohamud also indicated that he wanted to become 'operational,'" the Justice Department said. "Asked what he meant by 'operational,' Mohamud stated that he wanted to put an 'explosion' together, but needed help."

At a meeting in August, the Justice Department said, Mohamud allegedly told undercover FBI operatives he had been thinking of committing violent jihad since the age of 15. According to the affidavit, Mohamud then told undercover operatives that he had identified a potential target for a bomb: the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square.


Friday, November 26, 2010

Breaking: North Korea fires more shots...

YEONPYEONG ISLAND, South Korea (AP) - A defiant flash of North Korean artillery within sight of the island that it attacked this week sent a warning signal to Seoul and Washington: The North is not backing down.

The apparent military drill Friday came as the top U.S. commander in South Korea toured Yeonpyeong island to survey the wreckage from the rain of artillery three days earlier. As a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier headed toward the Yellow Sea for exercises next week with South Korea, the North warned that the joint maneuvers will push the Korean peninsula to the "brink of war."

South Korea's government, meanwhile, struggled to recoup from the surprise attacks that killed four people, including two civilians, and forced its beleaguered defense minister to resign Thursday. President Lee Myung-bak on Friday named a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to the post.

Tensions have soared between the Koreas since the North's strike Tuesday destroyed large parts of Yeonpyeong in a major escalation of their sporadic skirmishes along the disputed sea border.


Cyber Monday Intercept

For a very limited time you can "intercept" an advanced copy of "The Interceptors Club & The Secret of the Black Manta" by Steve Douglass for only 99 centsI

My first e-book is available for download as an e-book-html and in many other formats (including adobe pdf for easy reading on your desktop, laptop PC or ebook reader.

Think "Sneakers" meets "The Hardy Boys", Static and his rag-tag gang of teen techies are tricked into hacking into and stealing the prototype of an unmanned stealth warplane.

Somewhere in the wilds of New Mexico, at a secret air base, they have built the ultimate unmanned stealth warplane.

It embodies artificial intelligence.

It is invisible on radar.

It can fly rings around any fighter jet.

It can fly above Mach 6.

It is armed with exotic pulse-weaponry...

... and it is in the hands of a spy who wants to sell it to North Korea.

It is the Interceptors Club mission to get "The Black Manta" back.

That's the premise behind my novel, The Interceptors Club and the Secret of The Black Manta, a work of fiction, loosely based on my many years of actual experience "stealth chasing" for publications such as Aviation Week & Space Technology Magazine, Popular Science and Aircraft Illustrated.

From young readers and adults, no matter your age, you will like The Interceptors Club & the Secret of the Black Manta.

It is a fun, intriguing and wild trip into the Black World where five teenage hackers go toe-to-toe with real spies, playing by adult rules.

From page one, you’ll be immersed in a shadow-world that exists secretly, right alongside this one, filled with dark sinister characters, stealth technology and hidden radio-waves that carry on them secret messages for espionage agents hiding in plain sight.

The Interceptors Club & the Secret of the Black Manta is a character-driven, techno-thriller for our times.

It’s also a great book for sons and their dads.

No vampires or witches- but a cool -techie-tale - intended to get young men reading again.
Think - Bourne Identity meets Sneakers - Hardy Boys meets Real Genius - Tom Clancy meets Wargames -and you’ll get The Interceptors Club and the Secret of The Black Manta!

So follow the link to SMASHWORDS and order the book. Make sure on checkout you use the coupon code listed below so it will only cost you a buck. But don't drag your heels - this special price expires December 1st.

Happy Holidays.




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

USS George Washington sent to South Korean Waters

By Bomi Lim and Nicholas Johnston

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. sent an aircraft carrier to take part in exercises off the Korean Peninsula in a show of strength after North Korea fired artillery onto South Korean soil for the first time in half a century.

President Barack Obama talked with South Korean counterpart Lee Myung Bak for 30 minutes by phone and dispatched the USS George Washington from Japan today to take part in the drills. These will take place off the South’s western coast from Nov. 28-Dec. 1, the U.S. Forces Korea said in an e-mailed statement. There are about 25,000 American troops stationed in South Korea.

“The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our close friend and ally,” Obama told Lee, according to a White House statement. North Korea must stop its “provocative actions, which will only lead to further isolation.” The two leaders agreed that further sanctions against North Korea may be necessary, Lee’s office said in a statement.

South Korea raised its military alert status to the second- highest level after North Korea yesterday fired onto the island of Yeonpyeong, Defense Minister Kim Tae Young said today in Seoul. Four people were killed and 20 wounded, mostly soldiers, when Northern forces shelled the island in the first attack of its kind since the 1950-1953 civil war.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Obama calls for unified/measured response to North Korean attack.

The United States on Tuesday called North Korea's artillery attack on a South Korean island earlier in the day "outrageous," but said there will be no precipitous response. U.S. envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth is returning to Washington from Beijing after consultations with South Korean, Japanese and Chinese officials.

Officials here are not minimizing the seriousness of the artillery barrage, which came shortly after revelations of new North Korean nuclear activity.

But they say the Obama administration intends to move carefully and deliberately in the face of what the White House calls "belligerent action."

U.S. envoy for North Korea Stephen Bosworth, who was dispatched to the region earlier this week after Pyongyang revealed an apparent uranium enrichment plant, conferred with senior Chinese officials on the artillery attack.

Bosworth, who is due back in Washington on Wednesday, called the attack "aggression" and said the United States and China share the view that such conflict is "very undesirable."

State Department acting deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the artillery barrage that killed two South Korean soldiers and wounded several others, including civilians, was an unprovoked military assault.

He said the Obama administration plans a "measured and unified" response, working with China and other nations in the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

Toner did not rule out future engagement with North Korea. But he said Pyongyang will not be rewarded for belligerency.

"North Korea's behavior has been very, very bad; provocative and belligerent. And, again, we're not going to buy into that cycle of rewarding that kind of behavior. We're in a spot now where we just feel that by working through the six-party process, by working with our partners, we're going to take a deliberate, slow approach to responding to this latest provocation," said Toner.

China, North Korea's main ally and aid provider, has had a muted response to the artillery attack and recent nuclear developments - refraining from condemning Pyongyang and calling for a resumption of the six-party talks it chairs.

That prompted criticism from U.S. analysts, including Asia expert Bruce Klingner of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. He said Chinese help to North Korea undercuts U.S. efforts to present a united front against Pyongyang's behavior.

"What China has to do is step up to the plate, abide by international agreements, international commitments," Klinger said. "And instead, what it's been doing is increasing its economic engagement with North Korea in an unconditional manner, which really undermines the effectiveness of the U.N. sanctions as well as the conditionality that's inherently part of the six-party negotiations."

Ammunition clip found on Southwest airliner.

The discovery of a loaded gun clip aboard a Southwest Airlines jet on Tuesday sparked a security scare at the Phoenix airport, until it was determined that the clip was left by a law enforcement officer, the airline said.

The clip containing bullets was found on the cabin floor by a passenger aboard Southwest Flight 1297 from Burbank, California, to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport, airline spokesman Paul Flanigan told Reuters by telephone.

The plane was met at the gate by local police and personnel of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Flanigan said.

After a brief investigation, authorities determined that the clip belonged to a law enforcement officer who apparently had dropped it during a previous flight on the same aircraft, according to Flanigan. A clip is the part of a gun where the bullets or cartridges are stored.

2 Men removed from US Airlines Flight

US Airways Flight Searched In Colo., 2 Men Removed
DENVER (AP) ― Passengers on a US Airways flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Denver were briefly held on the plane upon arrival while the aircraft was searched. Two male passengers were taken off the plane by uniformed officers.

An Associated Press reporter who was on Flight 1525 Tuesday says officers brought a dog onto the plane, and it searched a bathroom at the rear of the jet. Passengers were allowed to disembark normally after the men were taken away. They weren't handcuffed and left calmly.

The Transportation Security Administration says before the plane landed, it was notified of a passenger "who raised concerns with the flight crew." The TSA says authorities met the flight and the passenger was being questioned.

It's not clear why the other person was also removed.

The flight originated early Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

War drums beating for North/South Korea

Seoul, South Korea (CNN) -- South Korea's president called on his military forces to use "action" and not talk to punish North Korea for deadly artillery attacks on Tuesday, but international diplomats appealed for restraint.

"The provocation this time can be regarded as an invasion of South Korean territory. In particular, indiscriminate attacks on civilians are a grave matter," President Lee Myung-bak said at the headquarters of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.
"Enormous retaliation is going to be necessary to make North Korea incapable of provoking us again," Lee said.

"Given that North Korea maintains an offensive posture, I think the army, the navy and the air force should unite and retaliate against (the North's) provocation with multiple-fold firepower," he said.

Two South Korean marines were killed and 15 South Korean soldiers and civilians were wounded when the North fired about 100 rounds of artillery at Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, South Korea authorities said, according to the South Korean Yonhap news agency. The attack also set houses and forests on fire on the island.

South Korea's military responded with more than 80 rounds of artillery and deployed fighter jets to counter the fire, defense officials said.

Firing between the two sides lasted for about an hour in the Yellow Sea, a longstanding flashpoint between the two Koreas. In March, a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, was sunk in the area with the loss of 46 lives in a suspected North Korean torpedo attack.


North Korea shells South - kills two.

Houses are burned on South Korea's Yeonpyeong island near the border against North Korea, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010. North Korea shot dozens of rounds of artillery onto the populated South Korean island near their disputed western border Tuesday, military officials said, setting buildings on fire and prompting South Korea to return fire and scramble fighter jets. (AP Photo/Yonhap)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire Tuesday after the North shelled an island near their disputed sea border, killing at least two South Korean marines, setting dozens of buildings ablaze and sending civilians fleeing for shelter.
The skirmish began when Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills in the area, according to South Korean officials. When Seoul refused, the North bombarded the small South Korean-held island of Yeonpyeong, which houses military installations and a small civilian population.

South Korea returned fire and dispatched fighter jets in response, and said there could be considerable North Korean casualties as troops unleashed intense retaliatory fire. The supreme military command in Pyongyang threatened more strikes if the South crossed their maritime border by "even 0.001 millimeter," according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Government officials in Seoul called the bombardments "inhumane atrocities" that violated the 1953 armistice halting the Korean War. The two sides technically remain at war because a peace treaty was never signed.

The exchange was a sharp escalation of the skirmishes that flare up along the disputed border from time to time, and come amid high tensions over North Korea's claim that it has a new uranium enrichment facility and just six weeks after North Korean leader Kim Jong Il unveiled youngest son Kim Jong Un as his heir apparent.
Columns of thick black smoke could be seen rising from homes on the island in footage aired by YTN cable television. Screams and shouts filled the air as shells rained down on the island for about an hour.

"I thought I would die," Lee Chun-ok, 54, told The Associated Press after being evacuated to the port city of Incheon, west of Seoul. "I was really, really terrified, and I'm still terrified."
She said she was watching TV when the shelling began, and a wall and door in her home suddenly collapsed.

The United States, which has more than 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea, condemned the attack. in Washington, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called on North Korea to "halt its belligerent action," and said the U.S. is "firmly committed" to South Korea's defense, and to the "maintenance of regional peace and stability."


Monday, November 22, 2010

Student pilot causes NORAD scramble ...

(CNN) -- Two F-16 fighter jets briefly took to the sky over Washington on Monday after a small passenger aircraft violated the capital's airspace restrictions, according to military officials.

A portion of the White House grounds was briefly evacuated during the incident.
The passenger plane -- a Cessna 182 -- was intercepted by the F-16s at 2:19 p.m. EST, a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command noted. The plane was escorted to an airport in nearby Manassas, Virginia, where it landed at 2:32 p.m. EST.

The Cessna pilot was a student pilot who initially took off from Warrenton, Virginia, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed.

The Secret Service will interview the pilot, a spokesman for the agency told CNN.

NRO launches new BIGGEST BIRD KH satellite ...

(CBS) This story was filed by CBS News space consultant William Harwood.

A powerful Delta 4 rocket roared to life and climbed away from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Sunday evening on a high-priority mission to boost a National Reconnaissance Office spy satellite into orbit.

Under a cloudy sky, the hydrogen-fueled engines in the three common core boosters of the United Launch Alliance Delta 4 ignited with a rush of orange fire at 5:58 p.m. EST and quickly throttled up to nearly 2 million pounds of thrust.

Hold-down clamps then released and the huge rocket majestically climbed away from launch complex 37 atop a torrent of fiery exhaust. About 30 seconds later, it knifed into a deck of low clouds and disappeared from view.

Because the NROL-32 payload is classified, United Launch Alliance halted commentary about seven minutes after liftoff, just after the protective nose cone fairing separated and fell away. The vehicle was performing normally at that point, but no other updates were expected.

The payload is believed to be an electronic eavesdropping satellite with a huge collecting antenna. In a September address to the Air Force Association, NRO Director Bruce Carlson said the Delta 4 was carrying "the largest satellite in the world."

"I believe the payload is the fifth in the series of what we call Mentor spacecraft, a.k.a. Advanced Orion," Ted Molczan, a respected satellite tracker, told Spaceflight Now. "They are among the largest satellites ever deployed."

Once on station, the satellite presumably will unfold a huge, lightweight antenna to tap into targeted military or civilian communications networks.

"The satellite likely consists of sensitive radio receivers and an antenna generally believed to span up to 328 feet to gather electronic intelligence for the National Security Agency," Molczan told Spaceflight Now.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Services set Sunday for F-22 Pilot

Memorial Monday for pilot killed in jet crash
Published: November 20th, 2010 03:57 PM
Last Modified: November 20th, 2010 03:58 PM
A memorial will be Monday for the pilot who died when his F-22 Raptor crashed in a valley between two mountains after vanishing from radar on a nighttime training flight last week, military officials said today.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Army and Air Force personnel continue to comb through the crash area to find Capt. Jeffrey Haney's remains, recover pieces of the stealth fighter jet, and try to find out why it went down.

At the family's request, only personnel from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and select friends from the local community would be allowed to attend the memorial, scheduled for 3:25 p.m. at Hangar One on base.

Investigators would be heading to the crash site, east of the Susitna River and south of the Denali Highway. The search and recovery efforts are based at the previously shuttered Susitna Lodge about two miles east of a bridge over the Upper Susitna, said John Pennell, a military spokesman in the base's emergency operations center.

The family and the military ask that instead of flowers or gifts, donations specifying "For the Jeffrey Haney children" be made at AirWarriorCourage.org. Donations can also be made by sending a check to AWCF, and mailed to AWCF, P.O. Box 877, Silver Spring, MD 20918-0877.

The check should be designated "For the Jeffrey Haney children."


Fence hanging ...

Today out at Rick Husband International Airport.

Short video I slapped together showing a little bit of the "unofficial airport jet fuel fumes appreciation society and photographers club" meeting today. Sorry in advance for the camera shake - forgot my monopod! We had fun anyway.

F-22 Pilot Presumed Dead

Washington (CNN) -- Search-and-rescue teams have found "conclusive evidence" that the pilot of an F-22 aircraft that crashed while on a routine training mission in Alaska did not survive, the military said Friday.

Air Force Capt. Jeffrey Haney, who was assigned to the 525th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing, has been missing since the crash Tuesday night. Crews have found the wreckage of the plane.
Haney "did not eject from the aircraft prior to impact," said Air Force Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander. McMullen made the remarks Friday in written and video statements.

A recovery team found part of the ejection seat and several life support items that Haney wore during the flight.
"If a pilot was able to eject, the seat would go with him and it would not be anywhere at or near the site," McMullen said.

"Sadly, we can no longer consider this a search-and-rescue operation, but must now focus on recovery operations," McMullen said.

"This is a huge loss for the 3rd Wing and for the Air Force, but it's even a greater loss ... and a very emotional time for the entire Haney family," McMullen said. "We are doing everything we can to support them right now."


Friday, November 19, 2010

Tanks for the Taliban ...

Washington (CNN) -- The United States is beefing up its firepower in Afghanistan by employing heavily armored tanks in Afghanistan for the first time in the nine-year war, a military spokesman said Friday.

The U.S. Marine Corps plans to use a company of M1A1 Abrams tanks in restive Helmand province by early spring, Marine Maj. Gabrielle Chapin said.

The M1A1 tank is the fastest and most deadly ground combat weapons system available. It will allow for more aggressive missions while mitigating risks to U.S. forces, the military said.

The tanks were used successfully by U.S. forces to battle insurgents in Iraq's Anbar province, Chapin said.

"They bring superior optics, maneuverability and precision firepower that will enable us to isolate insurgent forces from key population centers and provide the ability to project power into insurgent safe havens," he said.
Other coalition forces, including those from Canada, already have used tanks in Afghanistan.

"Quite frankly, given the nature of the fight, they are very much needed," said Jeffrey Dressler, an analyst for the Institute for the Study of War.
He said Gen. David Petraeus, who took over as the top American commander in Afghanistan in June, has taken a much more aggressive fight against the insurgency.

The deployment of the tanks dovetails with that approach.
They signal a more definitive presence for U.S. troops, said Col. John King, commander of the Georgia Army National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade, who led an armored battalion in Iraq during the worst of that war in 2005 and 2006.
"The M1 tank is a formidable machine," King said. "It's a formidable message. It signifies commitment, that we're committed."


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Space Shuttle Discovery flight rescheduled for Dec 3

If all goes well, Discovery should be ready to launch on Dec. 3 at 2:52 a.m. EST (0752 GMT), NASA officials said in an update. A series of safety reviews is still ahead before the shuttle is completely cleared for flight, they added.

Discovery has been stuck on Earth since Nov. 5, when a potentially dangerous hydrogen gas leak on the shuttle's external tank forced NASA to stand down for repairs. Foul weather and other glitches thwarted several earlier launch attempts that week.

Since then, NASA engineers have replaced a misaligned seal to plug the hydrogen leak and are now working to reinforce metal ribs on the external tank where cracks were discovered while the leak repairs were being performed.

The cracks are on two of 108 metal ribs around the upper middle portion of the tank that provide structural support. There are two cracks on each of the ribs. NASA shuttle technicians are installing double-wide ribs – called doublers – to reinforce the cracked areas.

Another crack, this one in the exterior foam insulation on Discovery's fuel tank, will also be repaired.

While the fuel tank rib repairs are under way, NASA shuttle program managers plan to review their rationale for flying Discovery with the repairs. If during that meeting, slated for Nov. 24, shuttle officials agree that Discovery is ready to fly, the space agency will hold a final review on Nov. 29 to clear the shuttle for liftoff, NASA officials said.

NASA's upcoming STS-133 shuttle mission will be the final flight of shuttle Discovery before it is retired along with the rest of the U.S. orbiter fleet in 2011.

The 11-day mission will send a crew of six astronauts to the International Space Station to deliver a storage room for the orbiting lab, as well as a humanoid robot built designed to help astronauts with work in space. Two spacewalks are planned.

NASA's upcoming window to launch Discovery opens on Nov. 30 and will close around Dec. 6 to avoid heating concerns caused by unfavorable sun angles at the space station after that, agency officials have said. NASA's shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to fly to the station during the next available window, which opens in late February.

NASA is retiring the space shuttle fleet to make way for a new plan aimed at sending astronauts to visit an asteroid by 2025. After Discovery's flight, NASA has only one more mission – Endeavour's – scheduled before the fleet is retired.


Search on for missing F-22 pilot

Dozens of Army and Air Force personnel and vehicles are heading into the Alaska wilderness 100 miles north of Anchorage to search for the missing pilot of an F-22 Raptor that crashed Tuesday night.

The stealth fighter jet vanished from radar and lost contact with its wingman at about 7:40 p.m. Tuesday. After spotting wreckage Wednesday morning, pararescuemen with the Alaska Air National Guard landed at the crash site.

"They said it looked like a crater," said Maj. Guy Hayes with the Guard's Rescue Coordination Center. "There was a stream nearby that was creating a lot of water in the crash site."

The searchers did not find the pilot, identified as Capt. Jeffrey Haney by his stepdad in the Jackson Citizen Patriot, a Michigan newspaper. The Air Force would not name the pilot until they found him, spokesmen said. Haney has a wife and two daughters, according to the Citizen Patriot.

After spending Tuesday night scanning the mountainous area southeast of Cantwell, searchers resumed Wednesday and spotted what looked like the crash site south of the Denali Highway The crater is in a drainage between two mountains and had partially filled with water, Hayes said.

First they had to get the right gear for hazardous materials from the crashed plane, Hayes said. It's normal to expect fuel and other hazardous material at a plane crash, he said. The searchers were on the ground at the site from 1 or 2 p.m. until dark, Hayes said.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson spokesman John Pennell said they plane was not carrying explosives but did have flares and chaff onboard, as well as training rounds.

Hundreds of Air Force and Army personnel are helping with the "huge logistical operation" of a ground search for the pilot, Pennell said. The state Department of Transportation is plowing roads in the area to help get equipment to the area as the search moves into a more long-term phase, Pennell said. A convoy of Army and Air Force vehicles was on its way to the area, he said.


Scotts seek source of mystery blast ...

(CNN) -- Police in Scotland are investigating a mysterious explosion in a forest, authorities said Thursday.

Police received a report from a citizen of what sounded like a blast in Garadhban Forest in Gartocharn about noon local time Wednesday, Strathclyde police said in a written statement. Officials responding to the report "discovered some damage to the wooded area within the forest that would suggest some short of explosion had occurred," the statement said.

"I would stress that the site is secure and that there is no risk to public safety," said Chief Superintendent Calum Murray, divisional commander for Argyll, Bute and West Dunbartonshire, in the statement. He said agencies from across the United Kingdom are assisting in the investigation, and asked anyone who has seen anything suspicious to notify police.
Gartocharn is about 20 miles northwest of Glasgow, Scotland

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

F-22 Crashes in Alaska- Pilot missing

11/17/2010 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Search and rescue aircraft have discovered the apparent wreckage of an Air Force F-22 assigned to the 3rd Wing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time yesterday while on a nighttime training mission.

To continue searching for the missing pilot, a rescue team is being dispatched to the area, approximately 100 miles north of Anchorage, by the Alaska Air National Guard Rescue Coordination Center, the 3rd Wing and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Air Force Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander, held a press conference at 1 p.m. to make a statement and answer questions from the media.

"Last night a 'two-ship' of F-22s, Rocky one and Rocky three, were finished with training ... about 100 miles north of here," McMullen said.

Everything was normal until about 7:40 p.m., McMullen said, when Rocky 3 fell off the radar scope and the pilot lost communications.

"The other pilot (Rocky one) went to a tanker, got gas and then continued to look for the mishap pilot," McMullen continued. "He could not find him. At that time, the Alaska Air National Guard scrambled a C-130 and rescue helicopters. They searched the entire night."
About 10:15 a.m., an Alaska Air National Guard helicopter found a site that fits the data and the description of where we thought the mishap probably occurred, McMullen said.

"They found the crash site. They were unable to land at the crash site and take a closer look. We scrambled another helicopter that should be in the area in the next few moments." McMullen said.

McMullen thanked the Alaskan community and Alaska Air National Guard for their support at such a difficult time.

The name of the pilot is being withheld until the pilot's status is determined.

More information will be released as it becomes available.

Air Force searching for missing F-22.

BREAKING: Air Force says possible wreckage spotted. Search for pilot underway.

(Nov. 17) -- The Air Force is searching today for a missing F-22 fighter jet that lost contact with its Alaskan base during a training mission. The plane, which is based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, was carrying one pilot when it lost communication at 7:42 p.m. Tuesday local time. The Air Force has not released the name of the pilot.

The F-22 is a single-seat, twin-engine stealth plane built by Lockheed Martin. The missing plane became active in the service in the mid 2000s and was sent to Elmendorf in 2007, according to The Washington Post.

The Air Force describes the jet in a publicly available fact sheet:
The F-22, a critical component of the Global Strike Task Force, is designed to project air dominance, rapidly and at great distances and defeat threats attempting to deny access to our nation's Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft.

The F-22 can "supercruise" or fly at supersonic speeds (greater than Mach 1.5) without using its afterburner. As of November 2009, each plane cost $143 million and the Air Force had 137 of them, according to Fox News. Last year, Congress put a hold on F-22 production by eliminating the $1.75 billion that would have paid for seven new fighter jets.

Update: According to several sources this morning, an Air Force F-22 Raptor is long overdue in returning from a training flight that left from Joint Base Elemendorf-Richardson in Anchorage. Air controllers lost contact with the jet Tuesday at 7:40 p.m. AKST, and a Pentagon spokesperson told CNN that the jet is "believed to be crashed."

The story is still developing, but a statement from JBER says that search and rescue crews are already on the job, and are focusing their attention on the aircraft's last known location, an area northeast of Cantwell.

The Air Force has not released the pilot's name, but Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander said in the statement that the pilot is the Wing's main concern. "Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely," he said. "We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing Airman."

Searchers are concentrating on an area near Alaska's Denali National Park for an overdue Air Force F-22 fighter jet.

The jet, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage, was on a training mission when it lost contact with air traffic control Tuesday night. The plane carries one pilot.

The Alaska Air National Guard is leading the search effort, using three helicopters and a cargo plane. In a news release, the guard says the F-22 was flying with another fighter, which also lost contact with it.

The search area is concentrated near Cantwell on the east side of the national park and about 150 miles north of Anchorage.

Spokeswoman Corinna Jones said Tuesday night that the jet, with one pilot aboard, was on a training mission out of the base and lost contact with air traffic control at 7:40 p.m. Alaska time.
“Right now, our top priority is to try to bring the pilot home safely,” said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing commander, in a release. “We will continue to search until we find our pilot. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of this missing Airman.”

Jones says a search is under way. She declined to identify the pilot, but says the aircraft is assigned to Elmendorf's 3rd Wing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Star Trek cloak closer to reality?

Physicists in the UK have proposed a "space–time" invisibility cloak that, if built, could be used to prevent signal interference or give the illusion of a Star Trek teleportation device.
The idea comes after four years of research by different groups that are creating devices to make objects invisible. In 2006 researchers at Duke University in the US created the first device that could cloak a small object in two dimensions in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Last year groups at Cornell University and the University of California at Berkeley, US, independently created 2D cloaks that operated at optical wavelengths. Then, earlier this year, a team at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany went one step further to produce a 3D optical cloak.
The latest development, by Martin McCall and colleagues of Imperial College, London, and the University of Salford, might see cloaks add yet another dimension to their capability: time. The idea is to create a tunnel through which an object could perform an action – move or change shape, for example – while appearing as though it is doing nothing at all.
A boon for thieves?

"It means that you can allow an object to do something for a short period of time in such a way that it can't be detected," McCall told physicsworld.com. "A good way to think about it is a small piece of an object’s history just being cut out, so you would see the object suddenly jump from one place to another." In principle, says McCall, such a system would enable a thief to enter a room, steal the contents of a safe and leave the scene as it was before, while security personnel watching CCTV are none the wiser.

In practice, the device would need two transparent walls to act as the tunnel, or space–time cloak. As an object enters the cloak to perform its action, the rear wall would compress light waves passing through from a source behind. Once the object completes its action and leaves the cloak, however, the front wall would stretch the light waves passing through so that they would merge seamlessly with those outside, whose profile had not been altered.

An analogy, says McCall, is a chicken crossing a busy road. Once the chicken steps onto the road cars must stop to let it pass, but as soon as it leaves the other side the cars would accelerate to catch up with the traffic ahead. To an observer farther down the road, the stream of passing cars would display no evidence of having slowed down.

Although McCall gives safecracking as a potential for the space–time cloak, his group does have ideas for more savoury applications. In the basic set-up it might appear as similar to a transporter from Star Trek, with a person entering the cloak on one side appearing at the other side moments later, apparently having skipped the journey. But the cloak could also find uses in signal processing: a detector placed inside the cloak would be able to "pause" a signal travelling through the wall while it first deals with a signal passing through the tunnel.

All of this, however, relies on someone being able to make the device – and in particular the walls that compress or stretch light waves. McCall admits a perfect implementation "is certainly beyond current technology", but points to advances in so-called nonlinear systems: materials that change their refractive index – a property that governs light propagation speed – given illumination with strong lasers. One of the problems with this route is that changes in refractive index introduce reflections, which means the cloak, while hiding the object within, would nonetheless reveal its presence with a telling glow.

But, explains McCall, "Provided we're prepared to throw away some aspects of the cloak, we can point towards more practical, proof-of-concept experiments that are currently accessible with current technology."

The research is published today in the Journal of Optics.

Jon Cartwright is a freelance journalist based in Bristol, UK

China hijacks Internet?

REAT Nearly 15 percent of the world's Internet traffic -- including data from the Pentagon, the office of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and other U.S. government websites -- was briefly redirected through computer servers in China last April, according to a congressional commission report obtained by the Washington Times.

It was immediately unclear whether the incident was deliberate, but the April 18 redirection could have enabled malicious activities and potentially caused an unintended "diversion of data" from many U.S. government, military and commercial websites, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission states in a report to Congress.

A draft copy of the report, which was viewed by the Washington Times, is to be released on Wednesday, and states that .gov and .mil websites were affected by the redirection, including websites for the Senate, all four military services, the office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and "many others," including websites for firms like Dell, Yahoo, IBM and Microsoft.


Related Link:


This just in: After a detailed analysis experts have determined 80% of it was porn, 10% of it was jokes that had been forwarded a million times and the rest was spam. ;)

Beware of Thermal Imaging Cameras!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Top Russian Spy Reportedly Defects After Betraying Anna Chapman

The head of Russia's U.S. spying operations has defected, a Russian paper reported Thursday, potentially providing the West with one of its biggest intelligence coups since the end of the Cold War.

The Russian newspaper, Kommersant, identified the man as Col. Shcherbakov and claimed he was responsible for uncovering a Russian spy ring in the United States in June. The subsequent arrests of 10 spies humiliated Moscow and complicated a "reset" in ties with Washington.

The newspaper said Shcherbakov, whose first name it did not provide, had been responsible for "illegal spying" in the U.S., indicating spies operating under deep cover without diplomatic immunity. He fled to the United States in June, a few days before the FBI arrested spy Anna Chapman and her nine accomplices.

Gennady Gudhov, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's security committee, confirmed the report, saying it was a major failure by Russian intelligence officials and a win for the United States.

"It is a major blow to the image of the Russian intelligence services," Gudhov told Reuters.

The newspaper also quoted a Kremlim official as saying a Russian hit squad was probably already planning to kill Shcherbakov.

"We know who he is and where he is," the unidentified official said, according to Kommersant. "Do not doubt that a Mercader has been sent after him already."

Ramon Mercader was the Russian assassin who murdered exiled Bolshevik Leon Trotsky with an ice axe in Mexico in 1940.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pentagon: "missile" was an airplane

Washington (CNN) -- The streaks in the southern California sky on Monday appear to have been an aircraft condensation trail, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.
Col. Dave Lapan said the contrails -- which glowed orange in the sunset-streaked sky Monday evening -- looked like a rocket launch to some people, but "there was no threat to the U.S. homeland."

Lapan said no evidence exists to suggest that the streaks were "anything else other than a condensation trail from an aircraft."
The Pentagon initially was unable to explain the images of what witnesses took to be a high-altitude rocket launch off the coast of southern California at sunset Monday.

This corresponds with the conclusion of John Pike, a defense expert and the director of GlobalSecurity.org.

"It's clearly an airplane contrail," Pike said Tuesday.
"It's an optical illusion that looks like it's going up, whereas in reality it's going towards the camera. The tip of the contrail is moving far too slowly to be a rocket. When it's illuminated by the sunset, you can see hundreds of miles of it ... all the way to the horizon.

"Why the government is so badly organized that they can't get somebody out there to explain it and make this story go away ... I think that's the real story," Pike added. "I mean, it's insane that with all the money we are spending, all these technically competent people, that they can't get somebody out there to explain what is incredibly obvious."

A U.S. Northern Command official who didn't want to be identified had said the contrail could very well be from an airplane.
An "illusion" effect made the contrail appear as if it was rising straight up, but it was actually level, the official said. The event is similar to another sighting around New Year's Eve in which observers believed they witnessed a missile, he said.

No Defense Department units reported launches at the time. The North American Aerospace Defense Command and the U.S. Northern Command did not report any foreign missile launches off the California coast, Lapan added. Regardless, there was no threat to the United States, he said.

Tuesday morning, the Pentagon and the North American Aerospace Defense Command were investigating video shot by a news helicopter operated by CNN affiliate KCBS/KCAL showing an ascending orange-colored contrail high into the atmosphere, officials said. A contrail is the visible vapor trail behind airplanes or rockets traveling at high altitudes.

The Federal Aviation Administration, the Coast Guard, Navy, Air Force, and California Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Jane Harman -- whose coastal districts are closest to the offshore contrails -- were at a loss to explain the images.

"The FAA ran radar replays of a large area west of Los Angeles based on media reports of the possible missile launch at approximately 5 p.m. (PT) on Monday. The radar replays did not reveal any fast moving, unidentified targets in that area," said FAA spokesman Ian Gregor. "The FAA did not receive reports ... of unusual sightings from pilots who were flying in the area on Monday afternoon.

"The FAA did not approve any commercial space launches around the area Monday," he added.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mystery surrounds "missile" launch

Editor's note: San Nicolas Island is probably where the shot came from. After all - SNI is the Navy's Area 51 - but you didn't hear that from me.

An interesting side note to this missile mystery was about the time this happened last night - my military band scanner went nuts. A few months ago I built a UHF military satellite antenna and have been listening to the Navy's FLTSATCOM system for months.

To continue ... last night while I was watching the tube - extremely loud encrypted data (I'm guessing it was data) came blaring out of the scanner making me jump. I locked out that channel but it jumped to the next - with the same blaring data and I locked that out and so on and so forth - until I finally grew annoyed and turned the radio down. Ten minutes later it ended and was quiet again. I couldn't help but wonder, "What was that about?" I guess now I know - sort of.

I just don't know if it was a test - or an accident - or triggered by tensions with North Korea. Maybe a warning shot?


UPDATE: mysterious missile launch from California or an optical illusion?

That's a question the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) is trying to resolve – and the blogosphere is hotly debating – after CBS News in Los Angeles aired what appeared to be a rocket launch from the Pacific Ocean just north of Santa Catalina Island, taken at sunset Nov. 8.

The "mystery missile" video, shot from a helicopter operated by local CBS affiliate KCBS, shows what appears to be an arcing plume of engine exhaust rising into the sky west of Los Angeles. Speculation about its source ranges from an airliner, whose contrail is giving the illusion of rocketry, or a missile itself.

About the only thing unambiguous about the event is that the go-to agencies either with jurisdiction over launches or with fingers poised over launch buttons – the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Defense Department – said, in effect, "It wasn't us."

Despite the official uncertainty behind the vapor trail, NORAD and the US Northern Command, which oversees the defense of the continental US, Alaska, and Hawaii, issued a statement aimed at reassuring the country that the event represents no threat.

"We can confirm that there is no threat to our nation, and from all indications this was not a launch by a foreign military," they said. "We will provide more information as it becomes available."

Coastal southern California is no stranger to rocket launches. The US Air Force launches military and commercial rockets from Vandenberg Air Force base north of Santa Barbara; NASA occasionally launches sounding rockets from San Nicholas Island, some 80 miles west of Los Angeles. Nor is it stranger to spectacular sunsets and odd aircraft contrails.

At contrailscience.com, a Santa Monica-based private pilot who operates the cite has posted several sunset contrails that look similar to the vapor trail the CBS news crew recorded.

David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Mass., notes that his initial speculation about what happened leaned toward the rocket-launch explanation, given NASA's launches from San Nicholas Island.

The CBS report suggested the plume was rising from some 35 miles offshore, but Dr. Wright adds that evening lighting and atmospheric moisture could have conspired to make a launch contrail look larger and closer than it actually is.

But after reviewing photos on contrailscience.com, he adds, he's reconsidering a jet contrail as an explanation – one he tended to dismiss early on.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's baccccck! UPDATED!

Photos (C) Steve Douglass and require permission for reproduction

I was on my way home from Wal-Mart this afternoon when I heard a strange thumping noise - rhythmic in nature. At first I thought it might be a flat tire - but then I realized it was coming out of the sky. Then I realized what it was. It came back in a flash - a sound I hadn't heard since 1992. I looked up and saw a familiar sight. My old friend the "Pulser" was back.

It took me another five minutes to race home to get my camera. Unfortunately the high altitude winds had kind of deformed the contrail by then.

It appears the craft (PDWE?) was heading from the southwest to the east/northeast. Maybe (and I'm guessing here) it originated from WSMR. Could it be a new pulse detonation engine aircraft being tested? If anyone else (in the Texas/New Mexico) area witnessed this craft - please feel free to drop me a line.

The original RAW NEF photo files are available on request - complete with EXIF data to credited news media.

I'm currently checking my automated scanner loggings - looking to see if I managed to capture any communications (military or otherwise) associated with this sighting. I'll let you know.

UPDATE: I checked my logs but no related military or civilian voice communications (related to the sighting) were found - most likely because the scanner was locked up for 15 minutes on 362.150 MHZ (Northstar GEP frequency) with what sounds like encrypted data.

Original 1992 "donuts-on-a-rope" photograph:

Original AVWST 1992 story LINK

-Steve Douglass

UPDATE: Related?

WILMINGTON, N.C. (AP) — Residents along North Carolina's southern coast say they have been rattled by unexplained booms twice in 24 hours.

The StarNews of Wilmington reported that people called emergency dispatchers in New Hanover and Brunswick counties Saturday morning to ask about the noises and to report their homes shaking.

Residents also reported booms and rattling windows and doors Friday afternoon.

Stoney Creek Plantation resident Brook Lasko told the newspaper that the booms felt like bombing exercises that she remembered from when she lived near Fort Bragg.

Officials at nearby airports and military bases say there was no training going on that could explain the booms. The U.S. Geological Survey had no report of an earthquake in the area that could explain the shaking.


Some interesting coincidences that may coincide with the sighting:

1. The Pentagon seems to be considering terrorist targets to hit inside Yemen due to the recent spate of "printer bombs."

2. STS 133 was supposed to be in orbit this week - but was postponed until November 30 due to technical issues.

3. Sonic booms heard over the Eastern seaboard - all the while the military is denying anything was flying at the time.

4. Iran seems to be very close to fielding an nuclear weapon and international pressure is on for the U.S. to do something about it.

Note all times are one hour off due to time change:

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Analog video of the possible "Pulser" test flight over the White Sands Missile Range in 1997. Sorry for the poor quality and camera work but the craft was almost 60 miles away and video tape wasn't high resolution back then.


LINK: Opposing viewpoint that conrtails are NOT caused by secret aircraft.

Note: There are are a few high (normal) contrails that take on a similar appearance but the "pearls" aren't exactly symmetrical usually more prominent on one side of the main trail than the other. These are what most people see and report - and sometimes take photos of. Some debunkers point them out as proof that a pulse-detonation-wave engine was only theoretical (in 1992) and what I was photographing was just normal contrails being distorted by high-altitude winds.

However, those contrails aren't accompanied by the noise and are asymmetrical and usually don't stretch across the sky - until it runs out - with the vehicle ascending beyond the atmospheric layer that makes them visible.

Since then PDWEs have been built and tested (in the white world) and not to mention - back in 1992 - shortly after the incident I got a call from a propulsion engineer (General Dynamics) who played (on a synthesizer) modulated notes at a certain beat frequency (over the phone) and asked me which one my "pulser" sounded like. When I heard one that most closely matched - and told him so - he swore "Son of a bitch! - those f-ckers at Lockheed have done it again. They just put me out of a job."

ABOVE TOP SECRET forum on Pulse Detonation Engines

Friday, November 5, 2010

STS 133 postponed until at least November 30

Launch Postponed to No Earlier Than Nov. 30
Fri, 05 Nov 2010 11:46:24 AM CDT

NASA managers have decided to postpone the next launch attempt for space shuttle Discovery to no earlier than Nov. 30 at 4:05 a.m. EST.

Details will be discussed during a 1 p.m. news conference with Mike Moses, Space Shuttle Program launch integration manager and mission management team chairman, and Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director

Scrubbed again ...

Managers Schedule 11 a.m. EDT Meeting to Discuss Scrub Turnaround Options
Fri, 05 Nov 2010 09:25:58 AM CDT

Space shuttle managers and engineers will meet at 11 a.m. EDT to discuss the work necessary to repair a gaseous hydrogen leak and prepare space shuttle Discovery for its next launch attempt.

The earliest opportunity is Monday, Nov. 8, at 12:53 p.m. EST, the last date Discovery can launch in this window. The next launch window for Discovery is Tuesday, Nov. 30 through Saturday, Dec. 5.

At 8:11 a.m., launch was scrubbed because of a hydrogen gas leak at the Ground Umbilical Carrier Plate, or GUCP, an attachment point between the external tank and a 17-inch pipe that carries gaseous hydrogen safely away from Discovery to the flare stack, where it is burned off.

Shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach characterized the leak as “significant,” similar to what was seen on STS-119 and STS-127, although today’s rate was higher in magnitude and occurred earlier in the fueling process.

The external tank is being drained and will be inerted for about 20 hours before it is safe for technicians to look at the GUCP on Saturday.

The Space Shuttle Program Mission Management Team will meet Saturday after technicians have had the opportunity to troubleshoot the hardware. The MMT will determine if it is possible to achieve a launch attempt Monday.

NASA Television will air a news conference no earlier than 1 p.m. EDT with Mike Moses, Space Shuttle Program launch integration manager and Mission Management Team chair, and Mike Leinbach, shuttle launch director.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breaking News: Cuban plane crashes with 68 on board.

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba's state television says a passenger plane flying from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba to Havana has crashed with 68 people aboard — including 28 foreigners.

There is no immediate word whether there are survivors from Thursday's crash.

State TV says the AeroCaribbean flight went down near the village of Guasimal in the area of Sancti Spiritus, carrying 61 passengers and a crew of seven. The report says 28 of the passengers were foreigners, but there is no breakdown of nationalities.

Man boards airliner as old man - leaves in his 20s.

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Canadian authorities are investigating an "unbelievable" incident in which a passenger boarded an Air Canada flight disguised as an elderly man, according to a confidential alert obtained by CNN.
The incident occurred on October 29 on Air Canada flight AC018 to Vancouver originating in Hong Kong. An intelligence alert from the Canada Border Services Agency describes the incident as an "unbelievable case of concealment."

"Information was received from Air Canada Corporate Security regarding a possible imposter on a flight originating from Hong Kong," the alert says. "The passenger in question was observed at the beginning of the flight to be an elderly Caucasian male who appeared to have young looking hands. During the flight the subject attended the washroom and emerged an Asian looking male that appeared to be in his early 20s."
After landing in Canada, Border Services Officers (BSOs) escorted the man off the plane where he "proceeded to make a claim for refugee protection," the alert says.

Did a dingo eat your engine?

(CNN) -- After part of an engine fell off a Qantas plane in mid-flight Thursday, a passenger shooting a personal video recorded the pilot announcing, calmly, that the flight was experiencing a "technical issue."
"I do apologize," the pilot begins. "I'm sure you are aware we have a technical issue with our No. 2 engine. We have dealt with the situation. The aircraft is secure at this stage. We're going to have to hold for sometime whilst we do lighten our load by dumping some fuel."

The pilot then tells passengers on the Airbus A380 that there is a "checklist we have to perform."
"I'm sure you are aware we are not proceeding to Sydney at this stage," the pilot says. "We're making a left turn now to track back towards Singapore and as we progress with this we'll keep you [informed] but at this stage everything is secure. [The] aircraft is flying safely and we'll get back to you very shortly with further information. Thank you for your patience."

The video is shot facing out the passenger's window and focuses squarely, without panning, at the wing of the plane. Damage to the wing is visible in a video shot by a passenger.
Volume is low, but it sounds as if conversation on the plane continued as normal, suggesting no one
The cowling, or covering, on the engine reportedly fell off about 15 minutes into the flight.

Shuttle Launch delayed yet again...

Weather Forecast Friday: 60 percent "Go"
Thu, 04 Nov 2010 09:03:54 AM CDT

The shuttle weather team is calling for a 60 percent chance of acceptable conditions for space shuttle Discovery on Friday. They are watching for high winds in the wake of a cold front moving through Central Florida. Discovery is on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Friday's launch time is 3:04 p.m. EDT. There are no scheduled STS-133 news conferences on NASA Television today and no planned Space Shuttle Program Mission Management Team meetings today. The shuttle team will convene at 5 a.m. Friday to assess the weather before giving a “go" or "no-go” decision to fill Discovery’s external tank.

If Discovery launches Friday, it will dock with the International Space Station at 10:55 a.m. EST on Sunday, Nov. 7. The mission’s two spacewalks will occur on Tuesday Nov. 9 and Thursday Nov. 11. Undocking will occur at 4:21 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, and landing at Kennedy Space Center will take place at 9:16 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 16.

Breaking: Another Delta aircraft searched for possible bomb

A Delta Airlines flight carrying 244 passengers from Amsterdam to Mumbai on Thursday night landed in emergency conditions at the airport in Mumbai due to an unidentified object in the plane’s cargo-hold.

The plane, which touched down about 11.20 pm IST, was being taken to an isolated bay for a thorough search, airport sources here said.

The information about the presence of the unidentified object in the cargo-hold was given by a Delta staffer in Amsterdam.

Shuttle Launch Attempt Delayed for Weather

Shuttle Launch Attempt Delayed for Weather
Thu, 04 Nov 2010 05:08:24 AM CDT

Managers will delay Discovery’s launch for 24 hours due to weather. Mission managers will meet tomorrow at 5 a.m. to reevaluate the weather conditions. Friday’s launch attempt would be at 3:04 p.m. EDT.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Shuttle launch now questionable for Thursday

The Prelaunch Mission Management Team wants to give engineers more time to look deeply into two electrical issues from a main engine computer controller that cropped up this morning. Therefore, the launch of space shuttle Discovery on STS-133 has been delayed until at least Thursday. Mike Moses, chair of the MMT, said the problems are believed to be tied to a circuit breaker in the shuttle's cockpit.

Rather than rush the shuttle launch team through an analysis and launch cycle quickly, Moses said he opted to let the engineers work throughout the night on the issue without having to worry about an early morning tanking and Wednesday afternoon launch. The MMT will meet again Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT and then decide whether to try to launch Thursday. A liftoff Thursday would be at 3:29 p.m.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Breaking: Suspicious package examined on Delta jet

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the FBI, the Transportation Security Administration, the Port of Portland and Delta Airlines are investigating what they say could be suspicious items found on a Tuesday Delta flight from Tokyo to Portland.

The FBI declined to identify the items or why agents considered them suspicious. Agents said the items were not explosives.

The flight arrived at Portland International Airport at about 8 a.m. The plane had 155 passengers and 10 crew on board.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers are processing passengers and baggage through security. FBI Agents are interviewing passengers and crew and looking for possible evidence in the incident.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Shuttle rescheduled for Wednesday

The Space Shuttle Program Mission Management Team voted unanimously to proceed toward Discovery’s targeted liftoff at 3:52 p.m. Wednesday. Mike Moses, chair of the Prelaunch Mission Management team, said there are no technical issues in work.

"The mission's in great shape," Moses said.

The weather forecast calls for a 70 percent chance of acceptable conditions at launch time. Those odds fall to 40 percent for Thursday. The launch window extends until Sunday. Discovery is headed to the International Space Station for an 11-day mission to deliver the Permanent Multipurpose Module and its host of supplies and equipment to the orbiting outpost.

At the launch pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, technicians will load super-cold oxygen and hydrogen into Discovery's onboard tanks this morning. The hyroden and oxygen are going into Discovery's power reactant storage and distribution system that supplies the shuttle with electrical power during the mission. The process is often abbreviated to "PRSD load."

Hobo Flight

F-18C out at Rick Husband last evening provided a rare jet-fueled Halloween treat!

Photo by Steve Douglass


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