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The NASA next-generation Space Launch System (SLS) is a multi-billion-dollar rocket project that is expected to officially debut during a November 2018 space launch. NASA expects to invest an additional $7 billion from February 2014 until the late 2018 test launch, in which the SLS will shuttle an Orion crew vehicle past the moon and back to Earth.
"If we don't do anything, we basically have a 70 percent chance of getting to that date," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA space operations associate administrator, in a statement to the media. "Our intent is to go look at those (expected) problems and see what we can do to mitigate (them)."
Total cost could surpass $12 billion to develop three variations of the SLS, with billions more needed to fly heavier next-generation boosters into orbit. As NASA and other space nations look beyond the International Space Station (ISS) - mainly to Mars - the SLS could help NASA push research of the Red Planet to a new level.
Lockheed Martin has teamed up with Electro Optic Systems to create a space object tracking site in Western Australia, designed to give researchers a better way to assess the threat of man-made junk floating in orbit. There are more than 200,000 objects to track using lasers and sensitive optical systems that will be used to identify and track threats in space.
"Ground-based space situational awareness is a growing priority for government and commercial organizations around the world that need to protect their investments in space," said Rick Ambrose, Lockheed Martin Space Systems EVP, in a statement.
Space junk remains a major concern for space agencies and private companies launching satellites and other aircraft into space. With more than 2,000 government and commercial satellites in orbit - and more than 200 space junk-related threats each day - it can be an extremely costly problem if debris traveling up to 17,500 miles per hour hits a shuttle or satellite.
The person responsible for breaking into Ben Eberle's vehicle to steal an Apple iPod Touch could face felony charges, as the custom device has been programmed to help a wounded U.S. Army veteran and triple amputee move. The MP3 player used i-limb, a custom application programmed for use by his prosthetic right hand - a newer technology that would have been virtually impossible just a few years ago.
Eberle was serving in Afghanistan when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device (IED) that claimed his right hand and both of his legs. The i-limb app was created by Touch Bionics, whose logo is displayed on the back of the stolen iPod.
A new prosthetic hand costs around $75,000, which will be required if the iPod Touch isn't turned over to the San Antonio Police Department.
Iran TV, a state-sponsored TV broadcast channel, reportedly showed images of an Israeli drone that the Revolutionary Guard shot down. The Iranian broadcast identified the drone as a Hermes 450, a medium size UAV designed for longer duration endurance missions.
The drone was shot down over the weekend and there are no visible markings to signify it is an Israeli aircraft, but Iranian military officials say the aircraft belongs to Israel. The drone reportedly also didn't last fly in Israeli airspace before trying to head to the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, around 150 miles south of Tehran.
Iran is negotiating with the western world about its nuclear ambitions, which the U.S. and other nations say is designed to develop a nuclear weapon. Not surprisingly, Iran denies the claims, stating its ambitions are for medical research and energy generation, not weapons development.
Heading to Disney in the future? Don't be surprised if you see drones flying overhead, as the company recently filed multiple patents to use drones in its amusement parks. It seems Disney wants to substitute drone-assisted shows for fireworks or large light shows, providing customers with a new experience.
Disney recently filed three patents for drone use, including a multi-drone projection screen system, possible overhead light displays, and drones attached to puppets or balloons to give them motion capabilities. The drones would be controllable from the ground, but would be pre-programmed and have synchronization to avoid contact with one another while in the air.
Drone use by militaries and governments seem to get the most attention, but there is a booming market for civilians and private sector companies trying to expand their capabilities. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently working on commercial drone laws, as more private sector companies want to use small drones for commercial purposes.
The United States Navy and Lockheed Martin are moving forward with Fortis exoskeleton testing, but the government contractor hopes to see its technology adopted in the commercial world. Lockheed started research and development on the Iron Man-style suit more than five years ago, and it's moving along nicely.
"We are pleased that once again a technology advanced through our program will be put into commercialization," said Rick Jarman, Lockheed Martin official, in a statement. "The Fortis exoskeleton contract is just another example of how collaboration around research and development speeds the time to market for these important innovations."
The suit is currently being tested in Navy shipyards and could become something for the private sector, with a unique ability to allow wearers to carry heavy amounts of weight. Leg braces and a back prace that goes over the shoulders help provide stability, using lightweight composites to not overburden the wearer.
led Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) successfully destroyed a mock enemy earlier this year, as the U.S. government looks forward to an enhanced missile defense system. The $40 billion project endured three consecutive failed tests, as Boeing struggled to hit targets. Since its launch 2001, the missile defense shield has 65 hit-to-kill out of 81 total attempts.
Boeing is struggling to create a space-like environment on Earth, which previously was explained as an "impossible" problem to overcome. The GMD system, designed to intercept ballistic missiles, wants to destroy targets when they are at the height of their trajectory - and trying to simulate how to destroy missiles more than 60 miles above the Earth's surface is extremely difficult.
"It's hard to reproduce [space-like conditions]," said Cindy Belliveau, Boeing structural dynamics engineer, in a video statement. "You have lots of different stories, and you pick the one that makes the most sense or is the most likely."
The U.S. Army Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was test launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska, but something went wrong and officials triggered a self-destruct sequence. It's unknown what kind of problem the aircraft had, but was destroyed just four seconds after launching, according to military officials.
Developed as part of the U.S. military's Conventional Prompt Global Strike program, the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon was created by the Sandia National Laboratory. A successful test in November 2011 saw the craft fly from Hawaii to the Marshall Islands, as the U.S. Army saw the unique glide vehicle pass through a successful series of ground testing and simulations.
"Due to an anomaly, the test was terminated near the launch pad shortly after lift-off to ensure public safety," according to a release from the U.S. Department of Defense. Officials have launched an "extensive" investigation to determine what went wrong during the second launch.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard reportedly shot down an Israeli stealth spy drone near a nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, located about 185 south of Tehran. In addition, Iran also used the media attention to announce Iranian-manufactured UAVs and missiles - to be used for defensive purposes only. Even if Iran managed to shoot down the drone, there would be questions related to the country's defensive capabilities to allow an aircraft to get so close to the enrichment site.
"A spy drone of the Zionist regime was intercepted by a surface-to-air missile," said an official statement released by the Revolutionary Guard. "The vigilant reaction of our defense system downed this drone before it could reach the skies over Natanz."
There is global concern regarding Iran's expanding nuclear program, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear Israel and other nations want to closely monitor Tehran's efforts. The volatile country says the nuclear capabilities would be used to enhance the life of Iranians, not for developing a nuclear weapons arsenal.
Researchers found full-body X-ray scanners found in U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013 weren't as effective as the TSA led us to believe - with knives, firearms, and explosives successfully concealed. In addition, scanner operating software could be manipulated to alert "all-clear" to the scanner operator, even if there was contraband found.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, Johns Hopkins University and University of Michigan contributed to the study. The scanner in question, the Rapiscan Secure 1000, was pulled from airports last year because of privacy concerns. The test unit was purchased on eBay and featured the same proprietary software and settings as the units used by the TSA.
"Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan computer science professor, in a statement. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."