Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Space X inks deal for heavy lift rocket.

SpaceX announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday, unveiling a deal with Intelsat, the world's largest communications satellite operator.

The company's statement did not say when or where the launch will occur, but one industry source said Intelsat is eyeing 2017 or 2018 for the mission.

Intelsat has not identified a satellite for the launch, and Alex Horwitz, an Intelsat spokesperson, said the company has not decided whether the flight would launch a single or multiple payloads.

The contract's monetary value was also not disclosed, but SpaceX has said the Falcon Heavy would sell for between $80 million and $125 million per flight, about one-third the price of a less powerful 
SpaceX announced the first commercial contract for the Falcon Heavy rocket Tuesday, unveiling a deal with Intelsat, the world's largest communications satellite operator.

The Falcon Heavy is designed to haul the largest U.S. government and commercial satellites into orbit, and it could dispatch up to 30,000 pounds of payload on a trajectory to Mars.

Thierry Guillemin, Intelsat's chief technical officer, said Falcon Heavy would need to complete multiple test launches before Intelsat assigns one of its satellites for a flight.

"Intelsat has exacting technical standards and requirements for proven flight heritage for our satellite launches," Guillemin said. "We will work closely with SpaceX as the Falcon Heavy completes rigorous flight tests prior to our future launch requirements."

Powered off the ground by 27 engines, the 227-foot-tall rocket can lift up to 117,000 pounds into low Earth orbit. It is composed of three core stages and a single-engine upper stage based on the Falcon 9 rocket.

SpaceX is finishing development of the huge Falcon Heavy before shipping the first rocket to Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., for liftoff on a test flight in mid-2013.

SpaceX is paying for the demonstration flight in 2013 with internal funding.
"Access to space is essential for commercial operators and we want to support a new entrant with reliable products able to launch large spacecraft into [geosynchronous transfer orbit]," Horwitz said in a statement. "We believe SpaceX should be supported in their effort to develop reliable and powerful launch vehicles."

SpaceX spokesperson Kirstin Brost Grantham said the Intelsat mission's launch site has not been determined. The Vandenberg facility under construction for next year's test flight is positioned for launches into polar orbit, while Intelsat and other communications satellite operators deploy spacecraft into orbit over the equator.

SpaceX is considering a former shuttle launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center for future Falcon Heavy missions. The huge booster could also lift off from SpaceX's existing Cape Canaveral pad or a potential private launch site in Florida, Texas, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico.

Space taxi flies over Colorado

A space craft was tested in Broomfield on Tuesday.

The Dream Chaser is a crew space transportation system. It was built by Sierra Nevada Corporation in partnership with NASA.

The Dream Chaser was flown in Jefferson County on Tuesday. The crew of AirTracker7 spotted the space craft on the grass near Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield.

Officials told 7NEWS the spacecraft went through what's called a "captive carry" flight test on Tuesday.

The next test will be to put the spacecraft on an Atlas rocket and let it fly back to the ground, officials said.

Sierra Nevada hopes the Dream Chaser will be a fully-reusable spacecraft to transport people and cargo to the International Space Station and return them to Earth with a runway landing.
Learn more on Sierra Nevada's website.

The flight tests will initially prove the Dream Chaser's aerodynamic qualities using an engineering article being outfitted at Sierra Nevada's space campus in Louisville, Colo.

Using a combination of public and private funding, Sierra Nevada is developing the Dream Chaser to carry up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station and back to Earth. NASA has promised the company $125 million so far, with the bulk of the money already awarded to Sierra Nevada upon completion of predetermined development milestones.

"Our mission is very specific: to take crew and cargo to the International Space Station and to low Earth orbit," said Mark Sirangelo, Sierra Nevada's executive vice president and chairman of its space systems division.
Sierra Nevada has provided the Dream Chaser program with "tens of millions" of dollars in internal funding, but less than NASA's total investment, according to Sirangelo.

The remaining NASA funds will be released after the Dream Chaser's preliminary design review, scheduled for late May, and captive and free flight tests over Colorado and California.
"We've made amazing progress without a lot of money," Sirangelo said.

The Dream Chaser is based on the HL-20 lifting body concept studied by NASA's Langley Research Center from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. Launching into orbit on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket, the spaceship will dock with the International Space Station and can stay there for more than six months. At the end of its mission, the craft will enter the atmosphere and make a piloted touchdown at the Shuttle Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Iran cyber warriors attack NASA

Iranian hackers 'Cyber Warriors Team' announced in an online post that it compromised an SSL certificate belonging to NASA and subsequently accessed information on thousands of NASA researchers. A space agency representative revealed that they’re currently investigating the incident.

The group said the certificate was compromised by exploiting an existing vulnerability within the portal’s login system, but they didn’t outline the entire attack. Once they had control over the certificate, they claim to have used it to “obtain User information for thousands of NASA researcher With Emails and Accounts of other users [sic].”

These incidents spanned a wide continuum from individuals testing their skill to break into NASA systems, to well-organized criminal enterprises hacking for profit, to intrusions that may have been sponsored by foreign intelligence services seeking to further their countries’ objectives,” Paul K. Martin wrote.

The attackers had full functional control over these networks. The Cyber Warriors Team (CWT) said in its post that it had written an HTTPS protocol scanner to find weaknesses, and had found an existing vulnerability in the NASA website, which was identified as that of NASA's Solicitation and Proposal Integrated Review and Evaluation System (NSPIRES) site. 

Worm.Win32."Flame" unleashed -sophisticated cyber weapon?

FOX NEWS: Computer malware described as "the most sophisticated cyber weapon yet unleashed" has been uncovered in computers in the Middle East and may have infected machines in Europe, according to reports from antivirus researchers and software makers in Russia, Hungary and Ireland.

The malware, dubbed Worm.Win32.Flame, is unusual in its complexity, size and the multitude of ways it has of harvesting information from an infected computer including keyboard, screen, microphone, storage devices, network, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB and system processes.

The malware is called "Flame" by Kaspersky Labs, a Moscow-based antivirus software maker, but also known as sKyWIper by the Hungarian Laboratory of Cryptography and System Security (CrySyS Lab).
'A nation state sponsored the research that went into it.'
- Kaspersky Labs

Both Kaspersky Labs and CrySyS Lab said it was likely the malware was developed by a government-sponsored entity.
"The geography of the targets [certain states are in the Middle East] and also the complexity of the threat leaves no doubt about it being a nation state that sponsored the research that went into it," Kaspersky Labs said in a report.
"The results of our technical analysis supports the hypotheses that sKyWIper was developed by a government agency of a nation state with significant budget and effort, and it may be related to cyber warfare activities," a CrySyS Lab report said. "Arguably, it is the most complex malware ever found."

Although the virus has just been detected, there was evidence that it may have been in operation for at least two years.
Vitaly Kamluk, chief malware expert for Kaspersky Labs, said there were many pointers to it being a weapon, not the least of which was how highly-targeted it was. According to their investigations, only 382 infections have been reported, 189 of which were in Iran, and the malware targeted individuals rather than organizations.

Kamluk said the malware was most likely introduced by a USB stick or other removable drive. Once injected, the malware would contact one of the many command and control servers around the world and download additional modules as needed.

It used the same technique as Stuxnet, an earlier highly sophisticated malware, to seek out other machines to infect.
"Unlike Stuxnet," said Kamluk, "[Flame] was much more sophisticated and not simply trying to infect every machine." He said the malware was also able to find out information about other devices around it.

While the finger of suspicion for Stuxnet was pointed at a number of suspects, including both U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies, Kamluk said there was no evidence to suggest who might be responsible for Flame, and it was pure speculation to attribute blame.


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