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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
The Trump administration wants to put Americans back on the moon by 2024, Vice President Mike Pence announced Tuesday at a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama.
“The first woman and the next man on the moon will both be American astronauts launched by American rockets from American soil,” he pledged. It’s an audacious pledge, given NASA’s current capabilities, and especially in light of recent setbacks to the Space Launch System (SLS), the agency’s long-delayed and over-budget heavy lift rocket. If NASA faces difficulties with that timeline, Pence said, “We need to change the organization, not the mission.” How this will affect NASA’s wide host of other goals, from astrophysics to education, remains unknown.
NASA doesn't have a plan for getting back to the moon quick though.
NASA is studying how to accelerate the SLS. Boeing's reaction. SLS might be doomed: the budget hinted as much. Lawmakers and industry went to bat for the SLS though.
The SLS team has been advertising its progress. SLS engine section has reached a milestone. The SLS core went through structural tests. Lockheed has begun assembling structures for the second SLS flight.
It’s only natural that Beijing might show an interest in a tourism development that aims to lure big-spending Chinese tourists to the shores of Cambodia with the promise of casinos, golf courses and luxury resorts.
After all, Cambodia granted 45,000 hectares of its prime real estate in Koh Kong province – and 20 per cent of its coastline – to private Chinese company Union Development Group, just so it could build this supposed tourism Mecca, and all for a peppercorn rent that will start at just US$1 million per year.
At least, that’s the official version. But sceptics who say the terms of this deal are too good to be true think there’s another reason for China’s interest: they believe the development is as much about welcoming the Chinese military as it is about Chinese tourists.