Sunday, May 19, 2019

China Expected to Establish Overseas Military Bases (more than just Myanmar, Sudan and Djibouti)

The US Defence Department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in its ambitious One Belt One Road global infrastructure programme, according to an official report released on Thursday (May 2).

Beijing currently has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti, but is believed to be planning others, including possibly Pakistan, as it seeks to project itself as a global superpower.

“China’s advancement of projects such as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative (OBOR) will probably drive military overseas basing through a perceived need to provide security for OBOR projects,” the Pentagon said in its annual report to Congress on Chinese military and security developments.

“China will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and in which there is a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” the report said.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Terminator Times #58

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

The CIA and US military are using a new missile that does not explode.  Instead, it releases blades to minimize civilian damage.

DARPA wants to teach UAVs to dogfight.

DARPA has cancelled the Lockheed Ares UAV due to costs.

The US military is pushing ahead with its suicide drones.

The US Army is trying, again, to procure a rucksack portable drone.

The USAF wants an unmanned air taxi to recover its downed pilots.

The USMC is still trying to sort out what it wants the MUX drone to do, but still wants it to fly in 2026.

The USMC is adding autonomous landing to its AH-1Z and UH-1Ys.

The USMC is working on a recon drone launchable from the V-22.

The US Navy's Triton UAV costs are growing according to the GAO.

The US Navy will soon use unmanned logistics elements.

U.S. Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division has completed the first training course for the BQM-177.

US SOCOM has ordered a VTOL version of the long endurance Vanilla 001.

Algeria conducted its first drone strikes using a El Djazair 54 UAV.

Australia is expecting to release the RFP for the Shadow replacement soon.

The British MAGMA drone demonstrated flap-free flight.

China claims to have developed a UAV launching armored vehicle.

Italy is buying drones to keep Piaggio in business even though the Italian air force does not want them.

In Libya, a Russian UAV was recovered.

Will the Russian army buy UAVs with hydrogen fuel cells?

Saudi Arabia stated two suicide drones attacked its oil pumping station in Riyadh and the Saudis called it a war crime.

Turkey's Aksungur UAV has made its first trade show debut.

UAE owned, Chinese made Wing Loongs are making air strikes in Libya.

AeroVironment is demonstrating its Quantix drone in possible military roles.

Boeing's MQ-25 demonstrator was trucked to MidAmerica airport to prepare for flight testing. That testing could start in a month.   The Phantom Works developed a new type of electronically steerable antenna to be first used on the MQ-25.

Flyability has launched its Elios 2 UAV.

Hood Tech Mechanical has developed a VTOL launch and recovery system.

Boeing's Insitu won a $23M contract.

Kratos has teamed up with Aerovironment to test deploying smaller drones from drones.

LaFlamme Aero has developed a tandem rotor VTOL UAV.

Lockheed Martin added a tether to its Indago 3 quadcopter.

Northrop will be outsourcing much of its Firebird optionally manned aircraft production.  The tech for the Firebird is rapidly maturing.

Roketstan has developed a small missile for UAVs.

Silent Falcon is seeking more Pentagon work for its solar powered UAVs.

TAI is planning its Goksungur supersonic UAV.

Threod is developing a direction finder for its VTOL UAV.

UAVOS is testing a helicopter UCAV.

The military UAV industry is working to purge hobbyist parts from its supply chain.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Ogres and Bolos):

The US Army tested UGVs for breaching defenses such as mines, obstacles and trenches.

Estonia has deployed a THEMIS UGV to Mali with its soldiers.

Pratt Miller has debuted its Light Flexible Robotic Platform UGV.

Two versions of Pratt Miller EMAVs were evaluated by the US Army.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (roboats):

The US Navy is moving forward with its unmanned future.

The US Navy is planning an aggressive unmanned warship prototyping effort.

The Sea Hunter continues its testing at NAVSEA.

When will the US Navy be able to autonomously destroy mines?

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

DARPA has laid out its goals for the Manta Ray autonomous UUV.

The US Naval Research Lab developed the Flying Sea Glider, a UUV that flies to its deployment area and then becomes a sea glider.

The US Navy's Virginia Block VI SSN will carry UUVs.

Software Bots:

The USMC is pushing ahead with experimenting and integrating into AI.

The Su-25SM3 will utilize a software bot for targeting.


Can the Pentagon convince Silicon Valley its AI will be ethical in war?

The US Navy wants a common control system for its unmanned vehicles.  Raytheon may have that interface.

The US Navy has been working on a algorithm to allow drones and missiles to coordinate a swarming attack.

Friday, May 17, 2019

SpaceX Crew Dragon Failed a Parachute Test

A test of parachutes for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft did not go as planned last month, NASA and SpaceX confirmed May 8.

During a hearing of the House Science Committee’s space subcommittee on NASA’s exploration plans, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) quizzed agency officials on the testing of parachutes for commercial crew vehicles, zeroing in on a specific, previously undisclosed test in April.

“Did SpaceX conduct, in April of 2019, a parachute test in Delamar Dry Lake, Nevada?” he asked. “What happened in that test?”

“The test was not satisfactory,” responded Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations and one of the witnesses at the hearing. “We did not get the results we wanted, but we learned some information that’s going to affect, potentially, future parachute designs.”

In that test, one of the four parachutes was “proactively failed” to demonstrate the “single-out” capability of the overall system. However, he said, “the three remaining chutes did not operate properly.” That caused a test sled to hit the ground faster than expected, damaging it.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

China, Russia are FAR Ahead of the US for Modernizing Their Nuclear Weapons

China and Russia had their money on winning asymmetric advantages in conventional and nuclear forces in the last decade, and now the United States is playing catch-up in modernizing its sea, air and land nuclear forces, the Pentagon’s top policy official said Wednesday.

David Trachtenberg, the Pentagon’s deputy undersecretary for policy, said the United States put off modernizing the three legs of its nuclear deterrent for almost 20 years, he told USNI News following a presentation at the Brookings Institution.

“In the 2000s, we skipped a generation” in modernizing the triad – ballistic missile submarines, bombers and ballistic missiles. He added that the United Kingdom and France, both nuclear powers and NATO allies, reduced their weapons stockpiles while continuing to modernize their nuclear forces during that same time. The United Kingdom has sea-based ballistic missile submarines; France has both submarines and aircraft capable of delivery of nuclear weapons.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #29

Genus Homo:

Rock art from Croatia from circa 34,000 years ago is figurative in nature.

Stone tools were recycled to new uses at a cave in Israel during the late Lower Paleolithic.

Hunter gatherers don't live in 'small' societies.

H. sapiens (Modern Humans):

Brain sizes have shrunk 10% in the last 40,000 years.

There is evidence of starchy food cooked in South Africa during the Mesolithic.

Is this the earliest known footprint from a human in the Americas?

H. neanderthalensis (Neandertals):

The Sima de los Huesas hominins get their age bracketed.

The first Neandertal fossil from Serbia has been found.

Could have aridification helped wipe out the neandertals?


The Denisovans were two populations, at least, and may have actually been two different species.

A Denisovan jaw bone found in Tibet shows Denisovans colonized the 'roof of the world' long before modern humans did.  The jaw bone also starts to show what the Denisovans looked like.

H. antecessor:

H. antecessor was, at least once, a cannibal.

H. heidelbergensis:

Evidence from reexamining bovid remains from South Africa suggest active hunting was import for H. heidelbergensis.

H. luzonensis:

H. luzonensis, a new hominin from Luzon island of the Philippines, has been discovered. This hominin was another miniature standing at about an estimated 1.2m (5 ft). It may have suffered from island dwarfing like H. floresiensis, the so-called Hobbit.  John Hawks comments.

Hualongdong Hominin:

A hominin from China has a mosaic of primitive and modern features.  Some are claiming this is proof of the multiregional hypothesis.

H. erectus:

Evidence of what mammals H. erectus ate in Italy prior to 1.3 million years ago.

The dispersal routes out of Africa for hominins are explored in Sudan looking for stone tools.  John Hawks comments.

H. naledi:

Cranial remains from the Lesedi Chamber of the Rising Star Cave show some variation from the other fossils, but by and large appear to be more of H. naledi.

H. habilis:

The KNM-ER 64060 fossil mandible appears to be from H. habilis rather than H. erectus.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. sediba:

A sediba does not appear to be ancestral to modern humans.


Man the Runner hypothesis is back again.

A troop of chimps deprived a leopard of its kill: how does that help model early hominins?

The history of human evolution can be seen in your face.

How important was the east african coastal forest for human evolution?

Basal ancestors of Humanity were upright apes.

Plovers Lake paleogenetics data might have been contaminated by modern people.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Moon 2024 Update

The NASA plans for the Moon landing in 2024 are sketched out.

The NASA push for a 2024 moon landing will require an additional $8 billion per year over the next 5 years.

Cost and bureaucracy may doom the 2024 push for a moon landing.

NASA is trying to decide if it wants to do the Green Run test or not for the SLS.

NASA is considering flying the Orion EM-1 test on a different rocket than the SLS.

NASA is trying to defend the Gateway Station in the 2024 landing.

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Russians Moves Forward With Annexation Tactics in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree expanding the list of Ukrainians and citizens of some other countries eligible for fast-tracked Russian passports, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.

The list included Ukrainians who once lived in Ukraine’s Crimea region before it was annexed by Russia in 2014, and citizens of Iraq, Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan who were born in Russia during the Soviet era.

An earlier Kremlin decree, simplifying the procedure for obtaining a Russian passport for residents of the rebel-controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, was signed by Putin on April 24.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Does China aim for a Lunar South Pole Base by 2029?

China aims to build a scientific research station in the south polar region of the moon and realize manned lunar exploration mission in about ten years, said a senior space official on Wednesday.

Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of China's Space Day in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province.

China will launch the Chang'e-5 lunar probe to collect and return lunar samples back to Earth at the end of 2019, Zhang said.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Robopocalypse #115


Alta Devices new solar drone could be a step towards flying cell phone towers.

Amazon received a patent for a drone that can turn into a blimp and back so it can reduce its noise on approach to a house for a delivery.

Austalian company Titomic unveiled the world's largest 3d printed drone, 1.8m in dia.

Drones may go hypersonic.

A drone helped botanists find a flower thought extinct in Hawaii.

A drone delivered an kidney organ transplant for a real patient for the first time in the US.

Farming drones!

Google got the green light to start drone based deliveries in Australia.

Google also is getting the green light for deliveries in the USA from the FAA.

Phoenix is a new blimp-drone.

Purdue researchers have taken inspiration from insects to develop a system to allow drones to adapt to windy conditions.

The Rega rescue drone can autonomously search for missing persons.

Russia's Rostec is testing drones for power line inspections.

UPS is moving medical supplies around North Carolina using drones.

The US Senate is urging the FAA to finish the remote drone ID regulations.

Self Driving Cars:

Are we there yet (with self driving cars)?

Half of Americans think self driving cars are more dangerous than people are.

Apple is seeking new sensors for its self driving car project.

Audi has a self driving car concept, the AI:ME.

California is moving forward to allow self driving delivery vehicles.

Daimler Trucks is taking a majority stake in self driving truck company Torc Robotics.

Ford has decided self driving cars are still a long ways off.

Ford, GM and Toyota are working to set standards for self driving car safety.

Kia has their HabaNiro concept self driving EV car.

Tesla has a long history making promises about self driving and breaking them.

Tesla's latest Autopilot update allows the car to change lanes autonomously.

Researchers have been able to trick Autopilot into driving into oncoming traffic.

Tesla's Autopilot classifies most other cars as minivans.

What would a true self driving Tesla be like?

Tesla is claiming it will launch a self driving taxi business in 2020.  However, the fleet operators of Teslas are having a serious problem keeping the vehicles running.

Watch a Tesla Model 3 do its first fully autonomous drive on public roads.

Tesla is promising an aggressive driving mode for Autopilot that could cause a fender bender.  Bet that doesn't last long.

The chip that will supposedly make Teslas completely self driving is only halfway done.

Uber's self driving car division now has its own CEO and received a $1B investment.

VW will test its self driving cars in Hamburg and will use China as a center of self driving tech development.

Waymo is repurposing a Detroit factory to make self driving cars.

Wayve's self driving car is supposedly able to drive unfamiliar roads with 20 hours of training.

3d Printing:

Mitsubishi is commercializing a new 3d metal printer.

Shipboard 3d printing is expanding.

There is a paper examining 3d printed latices for biological and structural aspects.

3d printing can help create soft robotics.

Researchers have 3d printed the first heart specifically for a patient.

A new 2d stacking method for 3d printing has promise for printing organs.

A new method of inspecting 3d printed parts by encasing them in ice has emerged.


Amazon has stated robots will not completely replace its warehouse workers for at least ten years.

Anki, the home robotics company, is closing its doors.

Meet UC Berkeley's Blue.

Estimating the strength of the Boston Dynamics' Spot robots as they pull a truck.

A new robotic catheter designed by Boston Children's Hospital helped heal a pig's heart.

Boston Dynamics bought 3d vision company Kinema.

What's the real meaning of Boston Dynamics' Handle robot?

The construction industry needs a robot revolution.

Harvard's Romu robot autonomously builds walls by driving piles into the ground.

Harvard has also developed a kirigani robot inspired by snakes.

The Narwal cleaning robot can can vacuum, mop and change its own water.

A robot figured out how to use tools based on experimental data and observing people.

There is a plan to use robots to implant embryos in white rhinos to save the species.

A new algorithm could allow robots to make sushi.

A Baxter Robot can sort recyclable materials based on touch.

Exercising hydrogel can make it behave like a muscle.

Robots may not be the solution to the last mile problem.

A new robot news presenter on Russian TV has caused a stir.

A robot helped explore how birds/dinosaurs took to the air.

Starship's robocouriers have conducted over 50,000 deliveries now.

Swagbot's autonomous agrobot goes on sale in 2020.

The Thorvald agrobot is designed to hunt weeds.

Two robots were designed for the ISS.


CRISPR was used to create a "dual core" CPU inside of human cells.

A new brain implant can synthesize speech from thoughts..

Brain machine interfaces could have enormous potential.

Software Bots:

Don't let industry write the rules and regulations for AI.

AI is on the cusp of a diversity disaster.

Apple poached Ian Goodfellow from Google.

Bumble is using software bots to block potentially unwanted nude pictures.

Facebook is using software bots to map the population density of the world and especially maps out Africa.

Facebook has made a creepy AI able to take photographs and make them into characters in games.

Facebook's software bots completely missed blocking the Christchurch live streaming of the shootings.  They are having issues.

Google has cancelled an AI ethics board due to outcry and then disbanded another AI advisory board.

Google tried to have software bots produce better software bots.

Google has created a poetry writing bot.

Google's CallJoy attempts to be a receptionist.

Governments should embrace software bots to improve services.

IBM is halting the Watson variant designed for drug discovery due to low sales.

Lyft has hired an exGoogler for its AI work.

Mozilla highlights software bot biases and addiction by design.

OpenAI's bots defeated a top ranked DOTA 2 esports team again.

OpenAI wants to make super powerful AI.

A software bot has been examining Saturn.

A software bot has been designed to select embryos for IVF.

Software bots are learning to make pesto more delicious.

Software bots are being used to assess responses to brain tumor treatments.

Software bots are being used to better explain the dynamics of cell development.

Software bots may be the future of music lessons.

Software bots are being used to measure roots.

Software bots are being used to accurately assess the lifespan of batteries.

Software bots are being used for earth observation and weather prediction.

LA, San Joaquin and San Diego counties are using a software bot to clear marijuana charges.

How do we keep AI friendly to people and prevent it from outsmarting us?

Software bots evaluate and score the potential for readmission of a patient based on clinical notes.

A software bot can single out neurons faster than people can.

Software bots can help fight human trafficking.

A software bot created a new game, Speedgate, based on analyzing multiple field sports.

Software bots can analyze tweets to map flooding in Europe.

Software bots might make future job applications a nightmare.

A new software bot generates a not stop stream of death metal.

Software bots may be able to ID PTSD based on voice analysis.

Software bots are being used to update old games' graphics.

Softare bots might be able to predict death, but what if they are biased?

Software bots might be used in fertility testing for women.

A software bot has been created to super stimulate monkeys' brains.

The robopocalypse comes for the Dad Joke.

Vaak's antitheft system is driven by a software bot and pretty effective.


Walmart is rolling out its own automated store like Amazon's Go.

Is the robopocalypse coming for organic chemistry?


Some metas are yikes, but must be shared.

Europe has started piloting AI ethics rules.

Is the techno-serf outcome the likely one for the robopocalypse?

Will AI enhance or hack humanity?

Are we sacrificing too much for automation?

Is tech downgrading people?

Bots will only take the boring parts of your job.

Junior AI researchers are in high demand by universities.

The growth in AI is a huge boon for transdisciplinary researchers.

Friday, May 03, 2019

Germany Starts Work on Space Mining Laws

Facing tough competition from China, the United States and even tiny Luxembourg, Germany is racing to draft new laws and attract private investment to secure a slice of an emerging space market that could be worth $1 trillion a year by the 2040s.

The drive to give Germany a bigger role in space comes as European, Asian and U.S. companies stake out ground in an evolving segment that promises contracts for everything from exploration to mining of outer-space resources.

Firms likely to benefit from any future spending rise in Germany include Airbus, which co-owns the maker of Europe’s Ariane space rockets, and Bremen-based OHB.

The new legislation would limit financial and legal liabilities of private companies should accidents happen in orbit, set standards for space operations and offer incentives for new projects, the German economy ministry told Reuters.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

Bitfinex Accused of $850 Million Fraud

In the evolving story of a so-called "stablecoin" the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James accused iFinex Inc. -- operator of the Bitfinex exchange and the Tether cryptocurrency -- of trying to cover up "the apparent loss of $850 million dollars of co-mingled client and corporate funds." While researchers have tied Tether transactions to the spike in Bitcoin value that occurred between March 2017 and March 2018, this issue of the missing money is allegedly tied to a transfer of $850 million in funds to Crypto Capital Corp., a payment processor based in Panama.

The AG says Bitfinex lost access to funds it had transferred there after regular banks stopped handling its business and subsequently dipped into $900 million of Tether's cash reserves. According to the filing, Crypto Capital Corp. told Bitfinex the funds were "seized by governmental authorities in Portugal, Poland, and the United States" but the AG says Bitfinex doesn't believe that is true.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Chinese are Working on Laser Weapons

Chinese media have reported that a prototype laser weapon is being tested by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

An article published on 5 April on the Sina news website contains several screengrabs taken from footage broadcast by China Central Television (CCTV) showing a trainable optical device mounted on a mobile chassis with a large main lens.

Commercial satellite images have provided the first photographs of a secret Chinese anti-satellite laser base in western Xinjiang province, along with other high-technology weapons facilities.

The laser facility is located near a lake and is about 145 miles south of the Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

The facility was discovered by retired Indian Army Col. Vinayak Bhat, a satellite imagery analyst who specializes on China.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on April 9 bluntly asserted that China’s PLA is “deploying directed energy (DE) weapons,” adding that “Russia is doing many of the same things.” In perhaps the strongest rhetoric yet from a Trump administration official about counterspace threats to US satellite systems, Shanahan said: “Both China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American space capabilities at risk.”

Shanahan’s comments about the state of Chinese and Russian DE counterspace weapons development go a step beyond the February-released assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). That characterized both countries as pursuing DE counterspace weapons but stopped short of definitively finding that they had deployed such weapons.

“China likely (emphasis added) is pursuing laser weapons to disrupt, degrade, or damage satellites and their sensors and possibly already has a limited capability to employ laser systems against satellite sensors,” the DIA said in its first ever assessment of threats to US space assets.

The DIA and Shanahan do agree on the view that China likely will field a ground-based laser weapon that can counter low-orbit space-based sensors by next year.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Terminator Times #57

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones):

DARPA claims its autonomy experiment to be a success.

USAF AFRL is seeking a prototype Skyborg UAV.

The USAF wanted to turn the D-21 Mach 3 recon drone into a nuclear bomber.

A USAF Global Hawk may replace the two Reapers in Greece.

The US Army has awarded fly-off contracts between Textron and Martin for its Shadow UAV replacement.

The US Army and USMC are looking at procuring a less than 600 kg UAV for resupplying small units in the field by 2024.

The USMC is adding more autonomy to its KMAX helicopter UAVs.

The USMC wants a drone to kill drones, especially drone swarms.

Is the USMC getting 'night vision' drones?

The US Navy is seeking weapons studies for the FireScout and, in general, is enhancing the VTOL UAVs capabilities.

Some US Navy academics think hydrogen fuel could be the key to unlocking very long endurance in UAVs.

Australia is committing to buying a second Triton UAV.

Bangladesh is developing a UAV for UN deployments.  The US is supporting its development.

Belgium has been granted permission by the US State Department to buy the SkyGuardian UAV.

The British have been highlighting their problems with the Watchkeeper drones.

China's Tengden is readying its first production TB001 armed recon drone.

China's Wing Loong UAVs have fired over 3,000 munitions and hit at a rate of 90%, including hitting moving targets.

A Chinese Wing Loong was shot down over Yemen.

The Dutch Reaper contract has been awarded.

France is arming its Reapers.

The first 12 German Heron TP operators are being trained in Israel.

Greece wants to buy 3 Reapers.

Indonesia is buying six ScanEagles.

Iraq has unveiled its first indigenous UAV.

Italy was going to cancel its P.1HH drone contract.

Lebanon has taken delivery of six ScanEagles, supposedly.

Malaysia may buy Reapers.

Russia's shotgun wielding drone gets more profiling.

Russia's Eleron UAV was used in its internal games/competitions.

Russia will fly its first UAV with a 3d printed engine.

Russia is pushing hard to export its Orion-E UAV, especially in Brazil.

Russia wants to show off its Korsar UAV.

Saudi Arabia is working on unmanned helicopters.

Spain has bought its last two MQ-9 Reapers.

Turkey is making progress on its Anka-Aksungar UAV.

Uzbekistan has introduced the RQ-11B Raven.

Vietnam is interested in buying ScanEagle UAVs.

Aurora Flight is promoting its Odysseus long endurance UAV for the US Army.

Bell has been developing its Autonomous Pod Transport VTOL cargo UAV.

Boeing's getting a $17M contract to support ScanEagles in Afghanistan.

General Atomics was awarded a $9.2M contract to sustain the British Reapers.

IAI expanded its control station options for the Heron.

Jetwind of Brazil has developed a UAV.

ST Engineering demonstrated a BLOS requirement for its hexacopter.

Terra Drone has taken a stake in a Slovenian UAV company.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles:

The US Navy is betting big on its LUSV program.

Why did the US Navy shift to getting LUSVs?

US Navy's unmanned ships may be the key to defeating China and Russia.

A panel stated USVs will be a major part of a future US Navy.

The Chinese Sea Lizard is making progress, more than what the Jane's article states in public.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

The program for the USN/Boeing Orca gets fleshed out and is getting serious money.

The British have started development on their own XLUUV like the Orca.

The Russians have launched the Poseidon wielding mothership SSN, the Belgorod.  She is derived from the Oscar line of classes, but is 100 ft (30m) longer.

Software Bots:

How AI could change warfare.

Could the rush to weaponized AI create cyberthreats?

Simulating superintelligences in war.

Microsoft may have worked with a chinese military university on AI.

Thales highlights its modular BRAINS system.


The US Navy turned a Royal Navy amphibious ship into a minesweeper through the use of unmanned tech.

Robots will autocomplete soldiers' commands.

Lethal autonomous weapons are a legal challenge.

The Pentagon wants your thoughts on AI in war, but may not listen.

Friday, April 26, 2019


NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the agency’s approach to moving up a human lunar landing from 2028 to 2024 will focus first on speed and then on sustainability.

In a plenary speech at the 35th Space Symposium here April 9, Bridenstine said the new approach the agency is developing in response to the goal of a human lunar landing in five years announced by Vice President Mike Pence two weeks ago will involve many of the same elements of NASA’s original plans, but in a revised order.

“All of those elements that were necessary to getting humans to the surface of the moon in 2028, all those elements still exist. The plan is still the same,” he said. That includes, he said, development of the Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft, a lunar Gateway in orbit around the moon, and lunar landers.

What will change, he said, is the schedule for developing some of those elements, which will be split into two phases. “The first phase is speed. We want to get those boots on the moon as soon as possible,” he said. “Anything that is a distraction from making that happen we’re getting rid of.”

That emphasis on speed includes launching Exploration Mission (EM) 1, an uncrewed Orion test flight, on the first flight of the SLS in 2020, to be followed by the first crewed Orion mission, EM-2, “as soon as possible thereafter.”

NASA published the presoliciation for the lunar ascent system.

The NASA Administrator appointed Sirangelo to oversee the lunar plans.

NASA started testing the Gateway station hab modules.

NASA and Boeing hope to have the first stage core for the SLS done by the end of the year.

ESA has started designing the Gateway's deepspace airlock.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

US Missile Defense Agency Wants Megawatt Class Laser by 2025/2026

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency is looking for information on a 1,000 kW-class electrically-pumped laser for defending the United States, its deployed forces, allies, and friends against all ranges of enemy ballistic missiles in all phases of flight.

The post on the federal business opportunities website is asking industry for information on a capability to demonstrate a 1,000 kW-class electrically-pumped laser in the 2025-26 timeframe.

Missile Defense Agency does not provide a specific platform or strategic mission at this time. The proposed ground demonstrator laser system would be designed to have technology maturation and lightweight engineering paths to potential future platforms.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Pondering the Precambrian #27



Did a massive volcanic eruption trigger the Gaskiers Glaciation?

Deposits from British Columbia may be evidence of deep sea conditions just prior to the Gaskiers Glaciation.

Fossil fats from the Cryogenian may actually be from algae instead of sponges.

Amoebozoa diversified earlier than expected during the Tonian 750 million years ago.

How were banded iron formations created in Egypt from the NeoProterozoic?

Was the Cambrian Explosion really that big a deal? Or did it really originate in the Ediacaran?

First record of carbonates with spherulites and cone-in-cone structures from the Ediacaran of Norway has been found.


The Yili Block was likely located in the NW margin of the supercontinent Rodinia.


The apparent cyclical deposition of the Dales Gorge Member banded iron formation appears to be related to sea level rise and fall or tectonic activity.

The Vempalle Formation dolomites of India appear to have more in common with Phanerozoic carbonates than Proterozoic ones.

There's a sedimentation record from 2.27 BYA to 1.96 BYA in West Africa with evidence of volcanic ash and activity in the layers.

The first drillings into the Temagami Anomaly have uncovered potential links to the Sudbury Impact.

The Francevillian Biota of Rhyacian Gabon seems to have had something able to move.  Scientists have found evidence of trackways from shallow, oxygenated waters.


Evidence from Mauritania suggests the Archean geophysics were as complicated as today.

Evidence of a breakup of a continent from the Archean.

There appears to be evidence of major crustal growth circa 2.6 BYA and 3.2 BYA.

There is evidence plate tectonics were active, despite prior theory, during the Archean.


There is evidence of a continental margin at the tail end of the MesoArchean in North China.

A subduction zone has been found from the MesoArchean/NeoArchean boundary.

Evidence of a continental rift was found in Hainan, China from the MesoArchean.

There is evidence of ephemeral oxygen oases in the Mesoarchean Ocean.


South African barite deposits were not laid down in a marine environment, but from a spring.

Life was thriving during the paleoarchean 3.5 billion years ago.


How the first continents formed in the EoArchean.


Was the Theia impact the reason for the heterogeneity of Earth's crust?

Origin of Life:

Was the repeated drying and wetting cycle of the margin of water the source of energy for the original polymerization of amino acids et al?

Did hydrogen peroxide play a crucial role in the origin of life?

Pluripotency and the origin of multicellular life.

Could the RNA world hypothesized never have existed?

Shallow pools of water might have been the original location for the origin of life, not the sea.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Boeing Starliner Flights Delayed, Extended

NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems. NASA found the long-duration flight to be technically feasible and in the best interest of the agency’s needs to ensure continued access and better utilization of the orbiting laboratory.

The extended duration test flight offers NASA the opportunity to complete additional microgravity research, maintenance, and other activities while the company’s Starliner is docked to station. The mission duration will be determined at a later date.

“NASA’s assessment of extending the mission was found to be technically achievable without compromising the safety of the crew,” said Phil McAlister, director of the commercial spaceflight division at NASA Headquarters. “Commercial crew flight tests, along with the additional Soyuz opportunities, help us transition with greater flexibility to our next-generation commercial systems under the Commercial Crew Program.”

The agency and its industry partner also agreed to adjust the target launch dates for flight tests, which will demonstrate Boeing’s readiness ahead of NASA certification to fly crew regularly to the station.

Boeing is now targeting August for its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test, although this date is a working date and to be confirmed. The decision to adjust that launch date was guided by limited launch opportunities in April and May, as well as a critical U.S. Air Force national security launch – AEHF-5 – atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 in June.

The company’s first flight with astronauts on board, called the Crew Flight Test, is now targeted for late 2019, again to be confirmed closer to that timeframe. Boeing also will fly a Pad Abort Test before those two orbital flights to demonstrate the company’s ability to safely carry astronauts away from a launch vehicle emergency, if necessary.


2nd link.

3rd link.

NASA actually blamed the ULA.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

China is Proposing Banning Bitcoin Mining as Wasteful

China’s bitcoin miners have long embodied a contradiction. Cryptocurrency trading is illegal in the country; initial coin offerings, used to fund new blockchain projects, are banned; and Chinese banks can hardly touch the stuff. And yet somehow the country has remained the epicenter of global cryptocurrency mining, home to more of the computing power used to mint new bitcoin than any other country.

Now the Chinese government has proposed to ban mining.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Russia may Have Developed a new Coorbital Spy Sat in Support of its ASAT Program

Russia has been working since 2011 to develop a next-generation on-orbit anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon, according to two new studies by U.S. nongovernmental organizations.

The Secure World Foundation’s “Global Counterspace Report,” finds that the Russian work on a space-based ASAT codenamed “Burevestnik” (also known as Project 14K168) is being undertaken in tandem with a larger effort to develop a space-based space situational awareness (SSA) capability. The SWF report, and one by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) were released today and based on open source information.

“Open source research done by analyst Bart Hendrickx suggests that the Cosmos 2491, 2499, 2504, and 2521 satellites are part of a project started in 2011 to develop space-based space situational awareness (SSA) capabilities and may play a supporting role for other counterspace weapons,” the SWF report says. “Publicly-available documents and patents suggest a link between those Cosmos satellites and procurement for a project designated Nivelir … under the control of the Central Scientific Research Institute for Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM). Hendrickx also has uncovered evidence suggesting there is an active Russian co-orbital ASAT program codenamed Burevestnik (“Petrel”) or project 14K168, also managed by TsNIIKhM and also started in 2011.” Burevestnik “may be designed to target GEO satellites, although it may be targeted against LEO satellites instead.”

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Stealth Saga #46

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The USAF NGAD/PCA has a proposed FY20 budget of $1B.  It had been predicted to be $1.2B.  The AETP engine often associated with the NGAD also received a budget of $870M.  The F-22 and F-35 both funded their engines internally, unlike the NGAD/PCA.  However, Jane's takes the stance the NGAD is being rethought.

The US Navy's Next Generation Fighter program is shifting from $5M in FY19 to a proposed $20M in FY20.

The US Navy will finish its AOA this summer for its 6th gen fighter.

Leonardo wants a role in Britain Tempest.

International interest in the British Tempest is growing.

The Franco-German FCAS may be a bad idea, or so goes one opinion.

FGFA (Pakistan):

Pakistan is outlining its plans for developing a 5th gen fighter.


Putin - goodness me - considers the Su-57 the best plane in the world.

The Russians have already created an export version of the Su-57.  They may be trying to export it to Turkey and China.

?!?!  The Russians are stating the first batch of Su-57s will be delivered to a frontline unit in 2019.

The Russians are refuting the Su-57 has been redeployed to Syria.


Why did the YF-23 lose to the YF-22 in the Advanced Tactical Fighter competition?  The only man to have flown both the F-22 and the YF-23 talks explains.

Model 401:

Scaled Composites' Model 401 is on the east coast at a Navy flight test facility.  Why?


The F-117 has been out flying about (with a plexiglass canopy, btw).

The Drive noted the interesting bit of the choice of emblem on the F-117.


Listen to a B-2 test drop nuclear weapons.


The USAF has selected which airbases will be hosting the B-21.


Rapid Raptor: the program to allow the F-22 to deploy anywhere, well, rapidly.

24 Raptors conducted an elephant walk in Alaska.

Will Langley AFB be the center of F-22 training?


General Fick is the new head of the F-35 program.

The Pentagon is considering selling the F-35 to Poland, Greece and Romania.

A continuous software upgrade program would speed capabilities to the F-35, but delay the purchase of aircraft.

The F-35 is expected to hit an 80% availability rate in Sept 2019.

The F-35 has the capability to deploy towed decoys from under its stealthy skin.

Some are strongly arguing to buy the F-35 instead of the F-15X.

48 F-35As, 10 F-35Bs and 20 F-35Cs are in the FY20 proposal.

The USAF wants 12 more F-35As than the budget provided for.

The USAF has conducted the first fast/hot crew swap exercise for the F-35A.

The IG is slamming the F-35 program office for allowing contractors to manage government assets.

The F-35 will take a starring role in an exercise in Greece.

China claims it is not the reason countries are buying the F-35.  Actually, about that...

The USS Wasp carried at least 10 F-35Bs into the South China Sea.  The USS Wasp has been operating near the disputed Scarborough Shoal.

The USMC may deploy F-35Bs off the deck of the Korean amphibious ships.

The US Navy F-35Cs that achieved IOC are only ready 5% of the time...

The readiness of the F-35C is improving, supposedly.

The British are monitoring the situation about the Japanese F-35 crash.

Italy's Deputy PM  defended the F-35 purchases.

The Italian F-35As in Sardinia get close ups.

Italian F-35As participated in the 'Lightning Thunder over Europe' exercise.

How did Italian F-35 pilots feel about their participation in Red Flag exercise?

Japan just purchased the JSM antiship missile for its F-35s.

Japan declared IOC for its first F-35A unit.

Japan had its first F-35 crash.  The wreckage has been located, but salvage and investigation will be dauntingEfforts are still underway to try to find the pilot.  Japan has grounded its F-35As. The aircraft that crashed was the first F-35A assembled by Japan.  Here's an update.

Poland is considering the F-35 for its Harpia program.  In fact, they want to outright buy 32 of them.

The first two F-35As for South Korea have arrived in country.

Switzerland will evaluate the F-35 for its new fighter requirement this summer.

Turkey's F-35 deliveries may get pausedStrike that: the deliveries have stopped of parts.  The US has stated buying the F-35 and the S-400 missile system are not compatible.  In the mean time, the US military continues to train Turkish F-35 pilots. Congress again has warned Turkey they cannot have the F-35 and the S-400 missile.

If Turkey gets cut, the F-35 program can progress just fine. Or will it?  How problematic is it for Lockheed?  What next?

BAE has begun Meteor and Spear integration on the F-35.

Lockheed received a $264M contract to support South Korea's F-35s.


What aircraft does the USAF need to defeat Russia and China?