Friday, July 19, 2019

US Military Wants Orbital Platform

The Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit wants options for an unmanned orbital outpost to support space experiments and operations — a logistics hub that might even grow, DIU’s solicitation suggests, to a larger manned space station.

DIU, which is charged with tapping non-traditional commercial companies for innovative technologies to meet Pentagon needs, issued a solicitation last week that gives interested vendors until July 9 to propose a “solution… for a self-contained and free flying orbital outpost.” The platform is to support “space assembly, microgravity experimentation, logistics and storage, manufacturing, training, test and evaluation, hosting payloads, and other functions.”

While the near-term requirements are obviously aimed at prototyping an autonomous, robotic mini-space station to house experimentation, the “future desired capabilities” listed in the solicitation are much farther reaching. They include the capability to dock with unmanned and manned spacecraft and, even more surprisingly, “human rating.”

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Researchers Appear to Have Cured HIV in a Mice With the Help of CRISPR

In a major collaborative effort, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) have for the first time eliminated replication-competent HIV-1 DNA - the virus responsible for AIDS - from the genomes of living animals. The study, reported online July 2 in the journal Nature Communications, marks a critical step toward the development of a possible cure for human HIV infection.

"Our study shows that treatment to suppress HIV replication and gene editing therapy, when given sequentially, can eliminate HIV from cells and organs of infected animals," said Kamel Khalili, PhD, Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience, Director of the Center for Neurovirology, and Director of the Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM). Dr. Khalili and Howard Gendelman, MD, Margaret R. Larson Professor of Infectious Diseases and Internal Medicine, Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Experimental Neuroscience and Director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases at UNMC, were senior investigators on the new study.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Russian Avangard Hypersonic Weapon may Have Carbon Fiber Supply Problems

Russia's plans to build a hypersonic weapon system that can travel at more than 20 times the speed of sound, and also evade US missile defenses, has predictably rattled the world. Last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted that the Avangard weapons system would be ready by 2019. But some obstacles lie ahead that could impact production, CNBC reported. Specifically, the Kremlin needs to find another source of carbon fiber material to build the Avanguard hypersonic glide vehicles.

Russia's current supply of carbon fiber material is unable to withstand the extreme temperatures of hypersonic flight. According to a US intelligence report reviewed by CNBC, Russia is hunting for an alternative source of carbon fiber, but so far has had no luck. "It's expected that they will make no more than 60 of these hypersonic weapons because it's just proving to be too expensive to develop," an anonymous official told CNBC.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #30

Genus Homo:

Just how many ghost lineages are hiding in the human genome?

Demographics modeling and the genetic introgression of hominins.

Modern Humans (H sapiens):

The Apidima 1 fossil from Greece is of H. sapiens, but dates from 210 kya.  This is far, far older than previously thought for modern humans to be outside of Africa.  Apidima 2 is a Neandertal and younger.

While exploring part of the genome associated with the sense of smell, scientists found genes from Neandertals and an unknown human relative.

The routes of modern humans into Australia get revisited.

What was being eaten at the Manot Cave, Israel roughly 40 kya.

What made humans the 'fat primate?'

Has evidence of murder from the Paleolithic been found?

The genetic components of height in prehistoric Europe are explored.

The genetic and archaeological evidence for the peopling of the Americas.

Using genetic introgression evidence to infer when modern humans dispersed into the rest of the world.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

Evidence from Italy shows Neandertals circa 170k years ago during the Pleistocene butchering already dead carcasses of elephants.

The migration history of Neandertals get revealed via DNA studies.  Neandertals in Europe were pretty stable as a genetic population for at least 80k years.  They migrated east into Siberia and seem to have been very distantly related to the Neandertals that lived there previously.

Neandertals used resin to glue stone tools to shafts and whatnot.

Neandertals repeatedly used the 'Ein Qashish site as a rarely found open air settlement between 54,000 years ago to as far back as 71,000 years ago.

The Geißenklösterle Cave layers are radiometrically dated.

H. erectus:

There are reports of a find in Indonesia of 1.8 mya Homo erectus fossils.

Rising Star Hominin (H. naledi):

The femoral neck and shaft structure gets examined.

H. naledi's teeth are more like australopithecines and early Homo species rather than later members of the genus Homo.

Genus Australopithecus:

A stratigraphic investigation of the site where Little Foot was discovered was undertaken.

Little Foot has longer than average australopithecine arm bones.


The season changes to savannahs and how it might have impacted hominin diets.

The promise of how protein analysis could change paleoanthropology.

The Sahara Desert dates back, intermittently, to the Pliocene.

The Olduvai Basin gets seismically imaged.

How stone tool techniques could have been acquired.

The hominin ilium is pretty unique.

How many different hominins did our ancestors actually meet?

Friday, July 12, 2019

NASA Seeks Information for Commercial Resupply of new Gateway Station

In the latest step in sending astronauts to the lunar surface within five years, NASA issued a draft solicitation June 14 to industry seeking comments for a future opportunity for American companies to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway in lunar orbit.

The first logistics service to the orbital outpost is expected to deliver science, cargo and other supplies in support of the agency’s new Artemis lunar exploration program, which includes sending the first woman and the next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024.

Last fall, NASA asked American companies for ideas on how to best supply the Gateway, which will be located in an orbit around the Moon about 250,000 miles from Earth. The Gateway will be a command and service module for missions to the lunar surface and eventually, exploration farther into the solar system. Following up on that initial request for information, today NASA published a draft solicitation for industry comments on its logistics approach, which are due July 10, 2019.

“We’re asking industry to provide a spacecraft to deliver cargo and other supplies to the Gateway. It will dock to the orbital outpost, but will be responsible for generating its own power,” said Marshall Smith, director, human lunar exploration programs at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “We’re using the Moon as a proving ground for Mars to develop the technologies and systems we need for exploration farther into the solar system, so we look forward to seeing how industry responds to our upcoming solicitation, and potentially awarding multiple contracts for this lunar service.”

Thursday, July 11, 2019

A Third CRISPR Baby may Have Been Born

The Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing, held in Hong Kong last November, was meant to debate the pros and cons of genetically engineering humans. Instead, the proceedings were turned upside down by the revelation that He Jiankui, a Chinese biophysicist, had already done it.

He’d gone ahead and edited the DNA of twin girls with the powerful gene modification tool called CRISPR.

Then the Chinese scientist sprang a further surprise on the shocked gene-editing experts. A second Chinese woman, he said, was pregnant with yet another CRISPR baby. An early pregnancy test had confirmed it.

That third CRISPR baby is now due to be born at any moment—if he or she hasn’t come crying into the world already.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

The Chinese Aircraft Carrier Liaoning Sailed Near Guam

Media reports from Taiwan says China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning approach Guam during its current cruise and may head to the Spratly Islands.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Stealth Saga #49

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The Franco-German FCAS effort might go down in flames over industrial fighting.  Others are more optimistic about it.  Some very optimistic.  Some are not very optimistic at all, calling the FCAS anfdTFX potentially fantasies.  A mockup will be unveiled at the Paris airshow and may have been already.   Here's more info. Spain has officially joined the FCAS effort.

MBDA has unveiled concepts for weapons for the FCAS.

The USAF has effectively cancelled the NGAD/PCA fighter.


Turkey has unveiled its mockup of the TFX fighter.  It looks like a cross between the F-22 and the F-35.


Prime Minister Abe supports replacing the F-2 fighter with an locally made next generation fighter.


First flight will supposedly be in July or August.


Mildly selective examples there.  :D

The Russians are supposedly developing a new antiship missile for the Su-57.

The Russians are displaying the Su-57 on models of their perpetually planned aircraft carrier, the Schtorm class.

The contract for 76 Su-57s has been reported signed by TASS.  The aircraft will be supposedly delivered through 2028.


Again, very selective.

Has the FC-31/J-31 been redesigned further?


The KC-46A Pegasus tanker refueling a B-2 for the first time.

Inside the cockpit footage and commentary of a B-2 in flight.


F-22s have deployed to Qatar for the first time.

The USAF has admitted the F-22 will not reach the 80% combat readiness on time.


The F-35 will take over half the fighter market over the next decade.

Lockheed and the Pentagon have reached a handshake deal over the next three LRIPs of $34 billion  for 478 F-35s.  The F-35A's price will fall below $80M each and is an 8.8% reduction in price for the A model.  Unfortunately, the deal negotiated has Turkish jets included, but it might not be a big deal.

Immediately after the announcement, Defense News released what it claimed was a whole lot of damning reports on the F-35.  Some of which are ancient news, but the news media picked it up.  Others of which are of concern.  Some are calling it a cluster bomb of problems.  The timing is wildly interesting though.  It was JUST after the handshake and the current acting SecDef is a Boeing ex employee who has been advocating for for buying a competing, less advanced, less capable fighter for a higher price (over $90M fly away and more for spinning up the whole thing)...from Boeing.  Foxtrot Alpha continues the 'problems of the F-35' series.

Here's the Pentagon's plan to cut Turkey from the F-35 program.  The 'unwinding' of Turkey's participation has begun.  Turkish pilots are no longer training on the F-35 in the US.  Turkey is angry with the letter from the SecDef.  Ousting Turkey will cut F-35 sales to Europe by 20%.  The US and Turkey are in close communication about the whole thing.  The US has stated Turkey WILL lose the F-35 if they buy the S-400 SAM from Russia.  Turkey says they will go ahead with the S-400 purchase and the other partners in the F-35 program condemn the US actions.  Turkey will take delivery of the S-400 missiles within days.  Oh, Erdogan, what have you done?

HASC wants an independent cost estimate of the F-35.

Watch the cockpit video of an F-35A performing a demo over Miami.  The demo team seems to be changing minds about the F-35.

Another video shows how the F-35 pilot can 'see' through the fuselage of the F-35.

On the way to Italy, four USAF F-35As had to divert to Burlington International Airport.

The 34th Fighter Squadron is relocating to Mountain Home AFB temporarily.

A Luke AFB F-35 might have "accidentally" drawn the first F-35A sky penis.

The USAF is still trying to figure out what paint scheme the 65th AGRS F-35As will use.

USAF F-35As did their first deployment to Germany.

Old technology makes hotpitting the F-35 easier.

The USMC has received its first F-35C meant to fly off the Navy's carriers.

See some beautiful shots of the formation flying of the USMC F-35C with an F/A-18.

A little more on the US Navy deactivation of the Grim Reapers.

A lot of press has come out about the USS Ford and her sisters being unable to fly the F-35C from her decks.  Congress has been unhappy about it.  Turns out NONE of the USN's carriers - Nimitz or Ford classes - can accommodate the F-35C without significant upgrades that have not yet been done.

Rumors have it the US Navy will field an F-35C demo team in the 2020 airshow season.

Auto GCAS testing will be completed on the F-35C this month.

Australia's F-35s are expected to have IOC in December 2020.

British F-35s have gone into combat for the first time in Syria.

British, American and Israeli F-35s exercised together.

British, American and Italian F-35s exercised together.

Canada has tweaked the rules for competitors for its fighter acquisition that will allow the F-35 to compete.

Was an Iranian general fired for hiding Israeli F-35s having penetrated Iranian airspace multiple times with impunity?  Or is this more rumor nonsense?

According to Iran, Israeli F-35Is were rehearsing strikes against Iran.

Israeli F-35s exercised with other Israeli aircraft for the first time.

The second Italian F-35B being flown in VSTOL testing.

Italian F-35s participated in JS15, the largest exercise in Italy.

Italian and American F-35s were integrated using MADL during the Astral Knight exercise.

Italy's Valore Tricore 2019 has the F-35 front and center.

Japan will be buying at least 105 F-35s: 63 A models and 42 B models.

The JS Izumo will visit Vietnam for the second time.  BAe thinks they are in a good position to do the upgrades to make the JS Izumo into the F-35B carrier.

Japan has officially ended the search for the downed F-35A.  The pilot's remains have apparently been found.  Japan thinks the probable cause for the crash was pilot disorientation.  The Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated the pilot may have ignored his instruments.

Japan will lift the F-35A grounding soon.

F-35s from the Netherlands did a crazy long mission.

Norwegian group crew are working on USAF F-35s at Orland.

Poland has sent a formal letter to start the chain of events to allow them to buy 32 F-35As.  Trump showed off the fighter to the president of Poland.

Did Russia jam GPS to try to prevent Israel from bombing Iran with its F-35s?

The Swiss are evaluating the F-35.

Cubic will provide the video datalink for the F-35.

Lockheed thinks demand from the Middle East could boost total F-35 production numbers to 4600.

Lockheed thinks it will sell 500 F-35As to Europe.

Lockheed is exploring the development of drop tanks for the F-35.

Lockheed is juggling upgrades with fixes on the F-35.

Lockhheed claims to be working hard to reduce the F-35 costs all around.

Lockheed and the DOD are looking at expanding the F-35 upgrade plan.

Friday, July 05, 2019

China's Space Ambitions may be Facing Delays

China’s major space missions including a lunar sample return, Mars orbiter and rover and a modular space station could be facing delays due to an apparent issue affecting rockets required for launches.

The Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket is China’s most powerful launch vehicle and was designed to launch large spacecraft to geosynchronous orbits and planetary bodies. It was being prepared for a third flight in July, Yang Baohua, vice president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China’s main space contractor and developer of the Long March 5, announced in a Jan. 29 news conference in Beijing.

The mission would come two years after the failure of the second launch. However that schedule appears to have slipped as the launch vehicle has yet to be delivered to the launch site, with knock-on effects possible for China’s major space plans.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Russians are Thinking About, Maybe, Someday Real Soon Now Starting to Plan Their First Nuclear Aircraft Carrier

The Russian Defense Ministry has started its work to draft the statement of objectives (SOO) for Russia’s advanced nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a source in Russia’s defense industry told TASS on Wednesday.

"The SOO on the new aircraft carrier is now being created and has not yet been sent to the United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC)," the source said without speculating on when this work may be over. "The Defense Ministry and the Russian Navy Main Staff share the opinion that the new aircraft carrier should be nuclear-powered."

TASS has been unable to officially confirm the information at the time of the publication.

Earlier, a source in Russia’s shipbuilding industry told TASS that scientific and research work to design Russia’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier would begin in 2023.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Robopocalypse Report #117


AirPix has created a self drone.

Amazon's delivery drone has evolved into a tilt wing of sorts.

Amazon - the company with all the facial recognition software it is selling to police! - has patented surveillance as a service.

BMW's might get cleaned by drones some day.

Dutch scientists have created the world's smallest autonomous racing drone.

Extinction Rebellion is considering - at least claiming to - be considering shutting down Heathrow Airport with drones as a protest.  They are now stating they will wait until after summer - tourist season.

Flytech's Birdie UAV can become VTOL with an add-on.

Guam's coral reefs are being assessed by drone.

Harvard has made its Robobee pico drone take flight without a tether.  The whole pico drone weighs 256 mg.

Intentional fires are being studied by drone to improve models of how forest fires will spread.

Japan has banned flying a drone while drunk.

The ROTORWing UAV puts an interesting spin on a fixed wing VTOL UAV.

Singapore's airport was disrupted by drones for the second time in a week.

Telefonica has developed an autonomous drone for monitoring forest fires.

Uber will start delivering MacDonald's food via drone in San Diego this summer.

The Vector Scorpion transforms from a fixed wing UAV to a tricopter drone.

YOUBIONICS has created a nightmare inducing addition for UAVs: hands.

Self Driving Cars:

How close are self driving cars, really?

The shifting alliances of self driving cars make for interesting viewing.

To make self driving cars safer, look to how human brains recognize things.

A new study suggests self driving trucks won't wipe out trucker jobs.

How do you build a self driving car?  Forget about the car.

Apple is reportedly in talks to buy  How this jives with the interest in buying Tesla is a little uncertain.

BMW unveiled a self driving car concept, the Vision M.

Boxbot wants to do autonomous deliveries.

Carnegie Mellon will collaborate with Ford's self driving car branch.

Daimler has a plan to get its self driving trucks on the road.

Domino's is planning on starting pizza delivery by self driving Nuro car in Houston.

EasyMile's self driving shuttles are supposed to be hitting campuses this year.

Florida is allowing fully driverless cars on its roads.

Ford will test its self driving cars in Detroit.

Lyft has completed 55,000 self driving rides in Las Vegas.

Self driving Nissan Leafs may be prowling Gongzhou, China soon.

Don't overestimate the semi in semi self driving cars.

Starsky Robotics' self driving truck has hit 55 mph.

Starsky is testing its fully automated semis on Florida's roads.

A Tesla Model 3 was sent driving without anyone in the latest, illegal stunt by a YouTuber.

A Tesla Model X accelerated out of the blue and nearly killed a pregnant woman.  Tesla is being sued.

A Tesla Model 3 driver was caught literally napping.

A driver is upset by Tesla's Autopilot and wants it regulated in this OpEd.

People keep spotting folks sleeping in their Teslas as the Teslas drive.

One of the reasons people may be overestimating the capabilities of Tesla's Autopilot might be the name.

Toyota and Softbank's self driving car venture, Monet, is getting more backing.

Uber and Volvo's latest self driving car has been unveiled.

Volvo's cabless self driving semi, the Vera, is moving loads in Sweden.

Volvo's vehicles use Nvidia tech.

Waymo is developing driverless cars with Renault and Nissan.

Waymo's self driving Jaguars are going to be field tested in Mountain View, California.

Waymo has hired former Anki staff.


Amazon 'cloned' a neighborhood to test its delivery robots.

Amoeba Energy has developed a soft robot for deliveries.

Autonomous 'roboats' may assemble water platforms as needed.

Boston Dynamics is preparing to launch its first commercial robot, Spot.

The creators of the social robot, Buddy - in something of a scandal - need more money to launch.

Carnegie Mellon has developed a wild robo fish that using a fluid for hydraulic driven motion and as electrical storage.

Dishcraft has a robodishwasing machine.

DJI has developed an educational robot for kids.

Facebook has released software to make robots easier to program.

Fieldworks Robotics demoed its first raspberry picking robot.

GEBCO-NF's USV won the XPrize for ocean mapping.

A Georgia Tech Slothbot gets outed to the public.

Ikea is working with startup Ori to make robotic furniture for small apartments.  Just imagine the assembly of that.

iRobot's latest bots cooperate to clean.

Lancaster University has created semi autonomous robots to help with decommissioning nuclear reactors.

University of Leeds is working on a miniature robot to check for diseases of the colon.

Microsubs might deliver drugs in the body one day.

MIT developed a sensor covered glove to help robots ID objects.

MIT also developed an algorithm to allow robots to predict where people will move next.

MIT also developed a robot that can detect what an object is by both sight and touch.

Meet the Movo Robot.

NASA's Astrobee robots are flying around in the International Space Station.

Nissan is testing a robot to weed rice paddies. 

Ocean Cleanup is testing its plastic cleaning robot.

A Purdue researcher is developing a smart phone app to allow average people to program robots.

Robotic surgery for throat cancer isn't any better than radiation therapy.

Are robots getting a little too good at how they move?  Some think so and are creeped out.

Imagine robot muscles powered by glucose.

Social robots can benefit hospitalized children.

Robots with a sense of "taste."

A robot has been designed with a software bot to pack boxes.

Shadow Robot Company demonstrated haptic feedback using a robotic hand.

3d Printing:

A 3d printer for human tissue is launching to the ISS.

Anisoprint is using basalt fibers for 3d printing of composites.

Boom Supersonic will be using 3d printed parts in their supersonic aircraft.

Chinese engineers are printing supercapacitors with graphene.

Columbia University researchers are 3d printing molds for hair follicles.

Scientists can now 3d print biological tissue without scaffolds.


An experimental prosthetic foot deals with uneven terrain.

A chip can upgrade your memory.

Software Bots:

The United States Congress is very unhappy about how big tech has turned loose the bots online.

True AI is hard.

AI researchers in China want to continue a global sharing culture.

The ACLU points out connected security cameras plus software bots is 1984 and then some.

Adobe created a software bot to detect when images have been manipulated.

Alexa and Siri were not built to deal with harassment.

Amazon's TextTract bot can read millions of pages of text in hours.

Experts are urging the EU to ban a social credit software bot like the Chinese have deployed.

Facebook has a photo realistic virtual sandbox running at 10k fps for AI work.

Google's DeepMind can thrash human players in Quake III capture the flag.

Google's AI Assistant is really a fraud.

Twitter has purchased a software bot company Fabula to fight fake news on its platform.

USC ISI has developed a new tool for detecting deepfakes and can do so 95% of the time.

Walmart is using software bots to watch for theft.

The World Economic Forum is developing rules for software bots.

Digital assistants might be able to tell if you are having a heart attack.  or an orgasm.  awesome.  not.

A software bot driven subreddit has been a thing for a while.

Software bots are being used to detect brain aneurysms.  

How software bots detect rare diseases.

Can software bots make decisions like people do?

Using software bots for genome research.

Can software bots detect Deep Fakes?

Using software bots for proteome research.

Training a single software bot can cost as much as 5 cars' lifetime carbon footprint.

Using echolocation, software bots can tell what you are doing.

A software bot generated face was used on linkedin by a spy.

Researchers have developed a software bot that generates your face from the sound of your voice.

Can software bots help with attribution of art to its proper creators (fake detection!)

Software bots can provide online legal help, but when will the legal profession allow it?

Software bots can ID which kissing bugs spread Chagas.

Software bots were used in quantum imaging experiments.

A new software bot allows you to generate deepfake videos with the person's voice by simply typing the words you want the person to say.

The power and limits of software bots and machine learning.

Software bots are being used to personalize radiation therapy for cancer treatment.

A software bot is being used to capture players' strategies in an RNA based game.

Software bots are helping to understand how electrons behave.

Software bots are also helping predict heart attacks.

Software bots could be a game changer for Alzheimer's research.

Software bots could be used to study student brains so teachers could improve their courses.


Inside an Amazon warehouse.

The British Antarctic Survey has an automated station that works through the winter.

Are robots job killers or coworkers?

Another study says automation will destroy another 20 million jobs and worsen inequality.


The robopocalypse isn't coming for your job, management is.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Experiments Have Been Selected for Flight on the Chinese Space Station

Six experiments have been granted a place aboard to the future Chinese Space Station through a joint international cooperation initiative, with three more receiving conditional acceptance.

The results of the selection process were announced jointly Wednesday by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna.

The UNOOSA-CMSA initiative received 42 applications from organizations in 27 countries following an Announcement of Opportunity issued in May 2018. The winning institutions are based in a wide range of countries, namely Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

India is Planning its own Space Station

India plans to have its own space station in the future and conduct separate missions to study the Sun and Venus, it said on Thursday, as the nation moves to bolster its status as a leader in space technologies and inspire the young minds to take an interest in scientific fields.

India’s space agency said today that it will begin working on its space station following its first manned mission to space, called Gaganyaan (which means “space vehicle” in Sanskrit), in 2022 — just in time to commemorate 75 years of the country’s independence from Britain. The government has sanctioned Rs 10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) for the Gaganyaan mission, it was unveiled today.

“We have to sustain the Gaganyaan program after the launch of the human space mission. In this context, India is planning to have its own space station,” said Dr. Kailasavadivoo Sivan, chairman of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). ISRO is India’s equivalent to NASA.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Terminator Times #59

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones):

Iran shot down an American MQ-4C Global Hawk/Triton UAV.  The US claimed the drone was in international waters.  This crisis rapidly escalated.  Trump didn't think Iran would have intentionally shot down the drone.  How to react to the Iranian attack is no small or simple thing.  The Iranians claim they warned the drone multiple times before opening fire.  The US was 10 minutes from launching an attack when Trump called it off.  This was the first successful shoot down of a Global Hawk or its derivatives.  This was the second drone shot down after several attempts.

The USAF is buying its COTS quad copters from Parrot, a French company.  is that the same as PSI?

A drone airbase in Niger built by the US is finished, but no flights have begun due to security concerns.

The US Air Force claims Iran tried to shoot down an American Reaper drone.

A USAF Reaper shot down by Yemen Houthi rebels with Iranian help.

Another Reaper was shot at by a MANPADS during the tanker attacks.

USAF Reapers participated in Red Flag for the first time.

The USAF AFL stated the XQ-58A Valkyrie has flown for a second time.

The USAF wants to buy 20 to 30 Kratos Valkyries.

The US Navy awarded Northrop another $66M contract for the BAMS-D program.

The US Navy awarded General Atomics $36.5M contract for services related to the Reaper.

Belarus is pursuing armed multirotor UAVs.

France awarded a $39M contract to BAe for a sensor pod for its Reapers.

France is qualing the SDT Patroller UAV.

Israel is losing market share when it comes to UAVs.

Jordan is selling its 6 Chinese-made CH-4B UAVs.

Malaysia will deploy its ScanEagles with its Navy.

Philippines is close to finalizing a $180M deal to buy Elbit drones.

The Russian Ohhotnik-B supposed did a high speed run with a hop, leaving the ground, but not truly flying.  First flight is supposed to be July or August.

A Russian firm has made a drone with a blinding/dazzling laser for security forces.

Did Russia spoof GPS lately to protect Putin from drones?

Russia is concerned about US drones being deployed to Poland.

Saudi Arabia may have been attacked again by drones.  The Houthi rebels claimed attacks on the Jizan and Abha airports.  And the Saudis are saying there was another attack.  The Saudis said the Abha attack was beaten back and 5 drones were shot down.  The Abha and Jizan airports were attacked again.  The drone attacks are almost daily now.

The Syrian army claims to have downed a drone near the Hama airport.

Taiwan has obtained Honeywell engines for its Teng Yun UAV.

Taiwan is going to spend $2.5 billion developing suicide drones.

The UAE has been cleared to buy the RQ-21A.

Ukraine's upgraded Spectator UAV has entered service.

AeroVironment bought Pulse Aerospace.

Collins Aerospace worked with Sikorsky to develop a triply redundant fly by wire autonomous flight solution.

IAI has launched the Tactical Heron UAV product.

Insitu got a contract from the US DOD to provide 34 ScanEagle UAVs to Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, and Vietnam

General Atomics has integrated a new EO/IR imaging system with the SkyGuardian UAV.

Kratos has ten different jet powered UAV projects underway.

InstantEye has launched its extended range Mark 3 drone.

Leonardo is launching a new drone to compete with the Predator and launching ISR as a service.

Lockheed has unveiled the Condor UAV.

Mikoyan is developing a Loyal Wingman.

Schiebel is tackling icy conditions on its S-100 camcopter.

Sikorsky has unveiled it tested the Optionally Piloted Vehicle technology on the UH-60A Blackhawk.

UVision unveiled new HERO suicide drones.

Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Bolos, Ogres and Terminators, oh my!):

The US Army has is planning on the ATLAS automated turret being tested soon.

The US Army is looking at a 30mm cannon in the turret of the Robotic Combat Vehicle - Medium.

Watch this armed Israeli bot shoot on a target range.

Milrem's Themis gets exercised in an armed fashion.

Unmanned Surface Vehicles (Ro-boats):

The Zumwalt class destroyers will be tasked as part of an experimental squadron to test out USVs.

Can the US Navy handle unmanned ships?

The US Navy sent a report to Congress on the USVs.  The purpose of those systems (and UUVs) is to tackle China.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (robo subs):

BAE is buying the technology of a US UUV company.

Hunting Ingalls is helping build the unmanned ships and subs of the future, including the Orca.


The US Special Forces is shutting down the Talos powered armor program and spinning out individual components.  The parts being kept are transitioning to the HEO effort.

3d Printing:

GE has 3d printed parts for the General Dynamics entrant for the Ground Combat Vehicle competition.

Software Bots:

Thales has bought an American "AI" company.

A software bot is helping with V-22 maintenance.


The US Army is exploring manned-umanned teaming.

The US Army is buying over 9,000 drones and moving ahead with supply carrying UGVs.

Friday, June 21, 2019

NASA IG has Concerns About the Europa Missions

Despite early-stage robust funding, NASA is facing serious management and schedule challenges in its ambitious Europa Clipper program that will send an orbiter and lander to Jupiter’s ice covered moon beginning in 2023.

“Specifically, NASA’s aggressive development schedule, a stringent conflict of interest process during instrument selection, and an insufficient evaluation of cost and schedule estimates has increased project integration challenges and led the Agency to accept instrument cost proposals subsequently found to be far too optimistic,” the audit found.

“Moreover, Clipper has had to compete with at least four other major JPL-managed projects for critical personnel resources, causing concern that the project may not have a sufficient workforce with the required skills at critical periods in its development cycle,” the report said.

The audit also noted that the Europa program’s biggest backer, John Culberson, no longer chairs the House appropriations subcommittee. The Republican Congressman from Texas was defeated in his reelection bid last year.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

US House of Rep Armed Services Committee Voted to Create US Space Corps Within the USAF

The House Armed Services Committee voted to establish a United States Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force. The vote came in the overnight hours Thursday. The committee began its markup of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday morning. After a nearly 21-hour session, the committee passed the NDAA 33-24.

The Space Corps amendment was offered by the HASC Strategic Forces subcommittee leaders Chairman Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Ranking Member Mike Rogers (R-Ala.). The proposal is similar to what the committee proposed in the 2018 NDAA, including the name of the new space service, U.S. Space Corps, rather than the Trump administration’s preferred name, U.S. Space Force.

Like the Marine Corps, the Space Corps would be led by a four-star Commandant who would be a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Paleolithic Papers #30

Genus Homo:

Using archaeomegnetism to investigate Late Paleolithic cave occupation in Israel.

Residents of the Qesem Cave in Israel from 400,000 years ago recycled stone tools.

The characteristics of the Manot Cave in Israel gets examined.

H. sapiens:

Ancient alcohol was found in Israel from before the end of the Pleistocene.

How diverse were the cultures of the Upper Paleolithic in the Zagros Mountains of Iran?

There appears to have been an unknown population in modern day Oman during the Pleistocene.

What was the environment like in southern Levant during the last glacial cycle?

Modern humans may have dispersed through Asia in the Late Pleistocene through multiple routes.

A new population of ancient siberians from 31kya has been found.

H. neanderthalensis:

Neandertals seem to have split from modern humans further back in time than the genes suggest.

The ancestors of Neandertals and Denisovans interbred with yet another ancient hominin population before they mixed it up with modern humans.

A jaw from a Neandertal from Regourdou, France shows the individual ate what appears to be typical foods for human hunter gatherers in a temperate forest based on the microwear analysis.

An odd preprint paper questions whether or not the introgression of Neandertals into modern humans was as much as previously thought.

H. erectus:

A new site at Madigou in China dates from 1.2 million years ago and contains stone tools.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. anamensis:

The verbatral morphology of A. anamensis appears to be more derived than A. afarensis.

A. afarensis:

The comparison of diets of pigs from Africa and australopithecines is examined and conclusions hominin diet diversification had not happened by the end of A. afarensis.


The first metacarpal gets compared between different hominins and Great Apes.

Did our ancestor's ability to ingest alcohol lead to the evolution of people?  So wonders the Drunken Monkey Hypothesis.

A gene has been found that helps humans deal with high sugar diets.

Modern humans might be unique in our hearing capabilities.

Western Galilee's environment from the Late Middle and Upper Pleistocene gets examined.