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.

Friday, June 14, 2019

NASA Gives an Update on its Gateway Station Habitat Module Prototyping

Even as NASA’s plans for the Lunar Gateway evolve, the space agency is continuing work on developing a habitat for the crew that will use the facility as an orbiting base for the study of the Moon.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Does India Need its own Space Force?

India is setting up a military space agency called the Defence Space agency (DSA) that’s expected to command of all the space assets of India’s army, navy and air force.

For nearly the last decade, a debate has taken place in India highlighting the need to establish a Space Command to address military needs. For all these years, India has had a Military Space Cell, a tri-service organization under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services, or IDS. Formation of this organization was announced on June 10 2008, by the then-defense minister.

The idea of DSA was mooted a few years back, possibly with a view to make an incremental increase in the space-related defense infrastructure. Hence, instead of having a Space Command headed by a three-star general, it was thought suitable to create a DSA headed by a two-star general. All these structures had a relevance when India was not a military power with anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. However, now that India successfully conducted its March 27 ASAT, can DSA take India’s military space agenda further, or there is a need to establish a separate ecosystem for this?