Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inside Helendale RCS facility ...


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Lockheed Unmanned

Lockheed Martin VARIOUS at AUVSI

Faults In Space: Glitchy AEHF To Reach Orbital Slot Next Summer

Aug 31, 2010

By Amy Butler AVWK

The U.S. Air Force’s newest protected satellite communications spacecraft will likely reach operational status 7-8 months later than planned, after a liquid apogee engine designed for orbit raising was deemed useless after two failed burn attempts.

The first Lockheed Martin-built Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite was expected to reach its testing position at 90 deg. West in geosynchronous orbit in November, about three months after the Aug. 14 launch date, says Dave Madden, director of the Air Force’s military satellite communications program office. Now, however, a series of burns designed to carry the satellite about 22,000 mi. into geosynchronous orbit will require 10-12 months, Madden says. He spoke Aug. 30 with the media via telecom.

At issue is how to compensate for a failure of the liquid apogee engine (LAE) on AEHF-1. Air Force and company officials tried two burns of the LAE, which was designed to produce about 100 lb. of thrust, before declaring it unusable (Aerospace DAILY, Aug. 27, Aug. 30).

Now, Air Force officials are planning to execute a four-phased orbit-raising strategy. First, the Air Force will increase the satellite’s perigee (or the lowest point that it reaches in orbit). This is needed to reduce drag on the spacecraft from the Earth’s atmosphere.

For this phase, which began Aug. 29 at 7 a.m. PDT, the Air Force is using the third and final propulsion system on the satellite, a reaction engine assembly (REA) — which has six 5-lb. and 12 0.2-lb. thrusters).

This system was designed for use in maintaining yaw attitude control and for in-orbit operations. In the next three phases of the orbit-raising plan, additional REA apogee burns will be conducted to more than double the current perigee. Hall Current Thrusters (HCTs) will then be used at apogee and, finally, HCTs will conduct continuous maneuvers to reach the final orbital slot.

Madden says he expects this approach will not affect the satellite’s planned design life of 14 years .

The satellite’s design allows for the REA to tap into the LAE’s hydrazine fuel store during the orbit-raising process, Madden says. “We basically got lucky,” he says, noting the operational requirement was to reach orbit in 90 days. “We put enough fuel on board to pretty much fire those thrusters continuously.”

Discussions are ongoing with U.S. Strategic Command, which will be the operational owner of the satellite. Madden says that while the Milstar constellation now in orbit is aging, so far operators do not expect operational necessity to force them to tap into the fuel designated for on-orbit stationkeeping or maneuvers to get the spacecraft into orbit faster.

A team of Air Force, Lockheed Martin and Aerospace Corp. engineers is studying the root cause of the failure, and findings are expected in about three weeks. Because the overall propulsion performance was not as expected on the LAE, the “system shut it down,” Madden says. Possible causes could range from “a bad valve in the system all the way up to the propulsion wasn’t being cooled or heated properly ... or we could have a bad engine,” he says.

Lockheed ADP -Past- Present & Future Poster

I found this very interesting graphic on the Lockheed ADP site HERE

Some of the projects I recognize - some I do not. I'm guessing some highly classified projects are represented by the little Skunks sitting on clouds and what looks like a chess piece?

There's also an interesting looking aircraft in the right hand corner and another (blurred) one on the left.

Click to see the graphic full size.

Comments and speculation welcome.

-Steve Douglass

Yemeni flight pair 'not planning attack', cautions US


US officials have said they do not believe two Yemeni men arrested in Amsterdam after flying from Chicago were planning a terror attack.

The men were detained at Schiphol airport after they were found to have checked luggage onto a US internal flight but not boarded it.

Airport authorities had earlier found "suspicious items" in one of the men's luggage but had cleared it to fly.

The two men are being held by the Dutch authorities.

They are being held "on suspicion of a conspiracy to a terrorist criminal act". The Dutch authorities have until Thursday to charge or release them.

"We are taking it seriously. Otherwise we would not have arrested them," said Theo D'Anjou, a spokesman for the Dutch national prosecutor's office.

He said an investigation was under way "to see whether we can charge them, and if we can charge them, with what".

But in a statement, the US Department of Homeland Security urged caution over the incident.

"This matter is under investigation but as of right now, these two passengers have not been charged with any crime in the United States and we caution you against jumping to any conclusions," it said.

The two men, who had both been travelling to the Yemeni capital Sanaa, were arrested on arrival at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on Monday morning.

They had checked luggage onto an internal flight in the US that they did not then take. Officials in the US say it appears they missed the flight and were re-routed by American Airlines to travel via Amsterdam.

That flight, from Chicago's O'Hare to Washington Dulles International Airport, was called back once it was found they were not on board.

'Already condemned'
US officials believe the two men did not know each other and were not travelling together.

One of the men had earlier been stopped by airport officials on a connecting flight from Birmingham, Alabama.

He was found to be carrying $7,000 in cash and when his luggage was searched, officials found a mobile phone strapped to a medicine bottle, as well as knives and watches.

The luggage was cleared for the flight after it was not judged to be a threat but there was speculation that the chain of events could have been a dry-run for a terror attack, testing the US flight security operations.

Customs authorities said it was not uncommon for people travelling to the countries like Yemen to be carrying large amounts of cash and that valuable items are often found bundled together.

Klaas-Arjen Krikke, a lawyer representing one of the men, said his client had recently resigned his job and was travelling to his home in Yemen. He also criticised the way information about the incident had been released.

"My client has already been condemned by a large section of the public via the media," Reuters quoted him as saying.

The BBC's Christian Fraser in Amsterdam says that whatever the investigation into the incident eventually concludes, serious questions will be asked about the airport security in the US.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the man had not been on any terror watchlists.

But he told CNN the US would conduct "a vigorous investigation to see if we can match up any of the circumstances that were involved with any intelligence that we might have".

"This is your pilot speaking - you are free to change your shorts."

British Airways Plc is investigating an incident in which an emergency alarm was sounded in the cabin of a Boeing Co. 747 warning passengers that the jumbo jet was about to make an emergency landing on water.

The button that played the message on the flight from London to Hong Kong on Aug. 24 can be activated in a number of ways, but isn’t accessible to pilots in the cockpit, British Airways spokesman Richard Goodfellow said today in an e-mail.

“Our cabin crew immediately made an announcement following the message advising customers that it was played in error and that the flight would continue as normal,” he said.

London-based British Airways is looking into exactly what happened and apologizes to passengers for causing “undue distress,” he said.

Mission Accomplished at 5 PM?

Washington (CNN) -- Almost 7½ years ago, President George W. Bush launched a blistering "shock and awe" invasion of Iraq.

The goal: eliminate a perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction while replacing a hostile, tyrannical regime with a friendly democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

At 5 p.m. ET Tuesday -- at a cost of more than 4,400 U.S. military personnel killed and 30,000 wounded -- America's combat mission in Iraq will officially draw to a close.
The quick removal of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ushered in years of grinding sectarian violence, war, terrorist attacks and, according to some observers, increased Iranian influence in the region. But it also paved the way for nationwide elections and increasing economic development.
Whether the war was worth the price remains a subject of fierce debate both at home and abroad.

President Obama, who based much of his campaign for the White House on growing public exhaustion with the conflict, will announce the conclusion of the combat mission in a speech to be delivered from the Oval Office at 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. He will spend the day meeting with veterans at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Obama called Bush for a "few minutes" from Air Force One while en route to Texas, according to White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton. The White House has not said if Obama will give Bush any credit during his speech for the controversial 2007-08 military "surge," believed by some observers to have helped curtail Iraqi violence.

Ben Rhodes, a presidential foreign policy speechwriter, told reporters Obama's remarks will focus on -- among other things -- the responsibilities of Iraqi leaders moving forward as well as the new partnership between the United States and Iraq.
Obama also will discuss the refocusing of U.S. resources in the global fight against al Qaeda as well as the heightened American military presence in Afghanistan, Rhodes said.
Vice President Joe Biden, who once advocated splitting Iraq along largely ethnic lines, is in Baghdad for the transition. He also will help mark Wednesday's transfer of U.S. military command there from Army Gen. Ray Odierno to Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin.

While the official U.S. combat mission is ending, roughly 50,000 American troops will remain in the country until the end of 2011. Their mission will be to will train, assist and advise the Iraqis.
As the U.S. military has been scaling down, the U.S. civilian presence has been ramping up. Iraqi officials are struggling to form a new ruling coalition in the wake of March's closely contested national elections.

And while Obama administration officials have touted what they claim is a gradual decline in the overall level of violence in Iraq, the country has recently been the target of a series of attacks.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki warned Friday of the likelihood of continuing attacks across the country. His warning came two days after a wave of 20 bomb attacks struck 13 Iraqi cities, mostly targeting police. The bombs killed 48 and wounded at least 286.
Al-Maliki said there were indications that "al Qaeda and remnants of [Saddam Hussein's] Baath Party with foreign backing are planning to carry out a series of bombings in Baghdad and the other provinces."

The attacks -- a show of force for the insurgency -- have increased fears among Iraqis about the ability of their security forces to protect them after the U.S. withdrawal.
But Biden on Tuesday suggested that reports of increased violence in Iraq have been exaggerated by the media.

"Notwithstanding what the national press says about increased violence, the truth is things are still very much different," he told reporters while meeting with al-Maliki. "Things are much safer."
Biden called recent terrorist attempts "dismal."
For his part, the Iraqi prime minister marked the occasion on Tuesday with a national address proclaiming his country "sovereign and independent."

Like Biden, al-Maliki insisted there had been major strides in Iraqi security.
"If these security achievements were not real, we would not have been able to move to executing the bigger and more important step, which is the withdrawal of American forces that is happening today," he said.

"We do not view the withdrawal as an accomplishment of one person, or one party or one sect or one ethnicity; it is an achievement for all Iraqis. ... And it represents a golden opportunity to strengthen national unity and a starting point to build Iraq after decades of destruction and suffering."

Top Republicans have been loath to give the Obama White House any credit for Tuesday's milestone.
House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, will say in a speech to be delivered Tuesday to the American Legion in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that the day "belongs to our troops."
"When Gen. [David] Petraeus embarked on the surge strategy in January 2007, it was widely viewed as our last chance to save Iraq from spiraling into an irreversible descent toward chaos," Boehner argues in excerpts of his prepared remarks.

"The consequences of failure then, as now, were severe."
In a thinly veiled slap at Obama, Boehner says in his remarks that "some leaders who opposed, criticized, and fought tooth-and-nail to stop the surge strategy now proudly claim credit for the results."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, is also set to address the Iraq war in a speech Tuesday.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, asserted during a speech Tuesday to the American Legion that, despite the recent spate of attacks in Iraq, "overall levels of violence this year remain at their lowest point since the beginning of the war in 2003."
Al Qaeda in Iraq has been largely cut off from its masters abroad."
But Gates stressed that he was not "saying that all is, or necessarily will be, well in Iraq."
"Sectarian tensions remain a fact of life. Al Qaeda in Iraq is beaten, but not gone. This is not a time for premature victory parades or self-congratulation," he said.

Terrorist test run?

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two men arrested in Amsterdam may have been conducting a dry run for a potential terrorist attack, U.S. officials said Tuesday after a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle and a knife and box cutters were found in one of the men's luggage.

U.S. investigators are pursuing leads in Detroit, Birmingham, Ala.; and Memphis, Tenn., according to officials speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation.

The arrests come at a time of heightened alert just days before the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

On Sunday, authorities found the suspicious items — a cell phone taped to a Pepto-Bismol bottle, multiple cell phones and watches taped together, and a knife and box cutter — in one of the men's checked luggage in Virginia. The man and his luggage were headed to separate international destinations, which also raised concerns.

None of the items found on the men or in their luggage violated U.S. security rules. But the items and the men's changing travel itinerary may have been a deliberate test of the U.S. aviation security system to determine what would raise red flags.

Neither man were on any U.S. terror watch lists, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told CNN Tuesday.

A U.S. law enforcement official identified the men as Ahmed Mohamed Nasser al Soofi and Hezam al Murisi. Al Soofi is of Yemeni descent from the Detroit area, one of the law enforcement officials said. An Alabama official said he had been living in Tuscaloosa for a time.

The pair were arrested Monday morning at Schiphol Airport after getting off a United Airlines flight from Chicago.

RTL Television News broadcast video footage filmed on a passenger's cell phone of armed law enforcement officers escorting two men off the plane, their hands bound behind their backs. The officers' weapons were holstered and there appeared to be no resistance.

They were being held at the Amsterdam airport for questioning, but neither has been charged with any offense in the Netherlands, said Martijn Boelhouwer, spokesman for the national prosecutor's office. Under Dutch law, the men can be held without charges for up to six days. No charges have been filed against the men in the U.S., a law enforcement official said.

Al Soofi was questioned as he went through security in Birmingham, Ala., on his way to Chicago, one of the officials said. He told the Transportation Security Administration authorities he was carrying a lot of cash. Screeners found $7,000 on him, but he was not breaking any law by carrying that much money.

Al Soofi was supposed to fly from Chicago to Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia and then on to Dubai, one of the officials said. But when he got to Chicago, he changed his travel plans to take a direct flight to Amsterdam, while his luggage went on to Virginia.

On international flights, passengers and their luggage must be headed toward the same destination, according to U.S. policy.

Al Murisi also changed his travel plans in Chicago to take a direct flight to Amsterdam, raising suspicion among U.S. officials. Federal Air marshals were on the flight from Chicago to Amsterdam, a law enforcement official said.

Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said once officials found suspicious items in luggage associated with two passengers on Sunday night's flight, they notified the Dutch authorities.

Alabama's director of homeland security, Jim Walker, said al Soofi had been living in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and working at a convenience store for about the last three months. He said there was nothing that al Soofi had done in Alabama that brought him to the attention of Alabama officials.

Security at Amsterdam's main airport has been boosted this year, after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student, flew from Schiphol airport to Detroit on Christmas Day with explosives in his underwear. Abdulmutallab allegedly tried to detonate the explosives over the United States before being grabbed by passengers and crew.

After the Abdulmutallab security lapse, Schiphol ordered 60 new full body scanners to screen passengers flying to the United States. Those who do not pass through the scanners are patted down.

American passengers arriving from the United States on Tuesday appeared to take the news of the arrests in stride.

"There is always going to be problems but I think that the system in terms of security works pretty well. I am traveling all the time and I feel pretty safe," Steve Harriot of Chicago told AP Television News.

"I think we have to be vigilant, all of us. It is not going to change my travel," Francois Binette of San Francisco said.


Associated Press writers Corey Williams in Detroit, Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala., and Mike Corder in The Hague contributed to this report.


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