January 28, 2015

USA SM-3 and Russia S500 Deployment of Continental Range Anti-ICBM systems

The RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) is a ship-based missile system used by the US Navy to intercept short-to intermediate-range ballistic missiles as a part of Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System. Although primarily designed as an anti-ballistic missile, the SM-3 has also been employed in an anti-satellite capacity against a satellite at the lower end of low Earth orbit. The SM-3 is primarily used and tested by the United States Navy and also operated by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

On 13 June 2002, the United States withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and recommenced developing missile defense systems that would have formerly been prohibited by the bilateral treaty. The action was rationalized under the need to defend against the possibility of a missile attack conducted by a rogue state. The next day, the Russian Federation promptly dropped the START II agreement, intended to completely ban MIRVs.

The new SM-3 capabilities are :
Operational range Block IIA ~2500 km (1350 nautical miles)
Flight ceiling Block IIA ~1500 km (933 miles)
Speed Block IIA ~4.5 km/s

Lockheed is pushing for funding for the development of an ER (extended range) version of the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) to counter maturing threats posed by hypersonic glide vehicles adversaries may employ, namely the Chinese WU-14, to penetrate the gap between low and high-altitude missile defenses.

US hit another post-1973 oil production record and oil storage space is shrinking worldwide

China will pass Europe in nominal GDP this year

The likely near term situation for when China will pass the exchange rate adjusted GDP for the USA and the collective GDP of Europe is becoming clearer based upon statistical method changes and more clearly apparent currency and GDP projections for the five years. Last month Nextbigfuture had forecast that China would pass Europe on nominal GDP in 2016 but now the accelerated decline the Euro seems to indicate a 2015 date for the pass.

December 16, 2014, China was expected to adjust its GDP based upon accounting changes and a new business census. This should boost China's (including Hong Kong and Macau) GDP to about 13.7 trillion in 2015. However, China's currency also weakened by 3% against the US dollar. The business census boosted China's GDP by about 4%. The accounting changes are still expected this year and would boost China's GDP by 10%. China's 2015 GDP should be about 13.3 trillion.

Most analysts are now expecting the Euro to have parity (trade 1 to 1) with the US dollar before the end of this year (2015).

Just last month the projections was for weakening through 2017 but the weakening is happening faster
2014 1.24 US dollars to 1 Euro
2015 1.15 US dollars to 1 Euro [now 1.0 US dollar to 1 Euro]
2016 1.05 US dollars to 1 Euro
2017 0.95 US dollars to 1 Euro

The European Union had (28 countries) a GDP of 13.07 trillion Euros at the end of 2013. The Euro could head to 0.75-0.90 US dollars to 1 Euro which it was back in 2001.

Ukraine upgrading and replacing T64 IFV tank variant and heavy lift cargo plane

Ukraine is usually the 4th largest arms exporter in the world and is currently in a war with Russia. Russia is the second largest arms exporter in the world.

Ukraine has renewed development of heavy infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) based on the T-64 main battle tank (MBT), Ukroboronprom has announced.

The Kharkov Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau had previously created prototypes of a new IFV based on the T-64 but work is understood to have ceased some years ago.

Now the firm has resumed development of the heavy IFV in order to ready the designs for serial production. According to Ukroboronprom, this work could be completed in time to allow for mass production to begin before the end of the year.

Instead of the 125 mm armed main turret of the T-64, a new IFV turret has been added to the vehicle. Boasting an impressive amount of firepower, the original prototype features a turret armed with a ZTM-1 30 mm automatic cannon and a 7.62 mm machine gun. Two anti-tank missiles are mounted on the left-hand side of the turret, while two banks of three grenade launchers are attached to the front of the turret. In addition, the commander's hatch on the roof of the turret features a cupola armed with a twin GSh-23 mm cannon and a 30 mm automatic grenade launcher.

The T-64 IFVs armour protection has also been increased with the incorporation of Nozh ('Knife') advanced dynamic protection system (explosive reactive armour - ERA), although a defensive aid suite (DAS) was not known to have been installed on the original prototype.

Ukraine is restarting the development of a heavy infantry fighting vehicle based on the T-64 MBT chassis. Ukroboronprom hopes to be ready to begin serial production of the IFV, if ordered by Ukraine, this year. Source: Ukroboronprom

Basic Science Shows Graphene has long term potential to triple the efficiency for solar power

Studies have hinted that graphene can also be used as a photovoltaic material, turning light into electricity. Using a cutting-edge spectroscopic method, scientists at EPFL and collaborators have demonstrated that by absorbing a single photon, graphene can generate multiple electrons that have enough energy to drive an electrical current.

Until now, graphene’s potential for efficient light-to-electricity conversion was not well understood. This is a challenging task as this conversion takes place on a femto-second scale (10^-15 sec; a quadrillionth of a second), too fast for conventional techniques to detect electron movement. To overcome this obstacle, Jens Christian Johannsen from Marco Grioni’s lab at EPFL, with colleagues at Aarhus University and ELETTRA in Italy, employed a sophisticated technique called “ultrafast time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy” (trARPES). The experiments were carried out at the world-renowned Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford.

With this method, a small sample of graphene is placed in an ultra-high vacuum chamber. The graphene is then hit with an ultrafast ‘pump’ pulse of laser light. This excites the electrons in graphene, “raising” them to higher energy states where they can actually drive an electrical current. While the electrons are in those states, the graphene sample is hit with a time-delayed, ‘probe’ pulse that literally takes a snapshot of the energy each electron has at that moment. The sequence is repeated rapidly for different time points, like a stop-motion movie, and captures the dynamics of the electrons in a live-action sequence.

NanoLetters - Tunable Carrier Multiplication and Cooling in Graphene

January 27, 2015

Confirmation that China stole F35, F22 and B2 stealth bomber secrets as early as 2007

Der Spiegel published a new tranche of documents provided to the German weekly magazine by the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden. The documents are the first public confirmation that Chinese hackers have been able to extrapolate top secret data on the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter jet. According to sources, the data breach already took place in 2007 at the prime subcontractor Lockheed Martin

The fifth generation F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced fighter jet currently in production in the world. Experts have long argued that the design of China’s newest stealth fighter, the J-31, as well as the Chengdu J-20 fighter jet, are in parts influenced by the F-35.

The Snowden files outline the scope of Chinese F-35 espionage efforts, which focused on acquiring the radar design (the number and types of modules), detailed engine schematics (methods for cooling gases, leading and trailing edge treatments, and aft deck heating contour maps) among other things. The document claims that many terabytes of data specific to the F-35 joint strike fighter program were stolen.

The Chinese hackers were also successful in obtaining data on the B-2 stealth bomber, the F-22 jet, space-based lasers, missile navigation and tracking systems, as well as nuclear submarine/anti-air missile designs.

Nextbigfuture has long agreed with the aviation experts who say that J31 copied the F35

China has also reverse engineered Russian plane technology

NASA JPL making helicopter drones for Mars exploration

NASA Jet Propulsion Lab is making a Mars Helicopter drone. It is a proposed add-on to Mars rovers of the future that could potentially triple the distance these vehicles currently drive in a Martian day, and deliver a new level of visual information for choosing which sites to explore.

The helicopter would fly ahead of the rover almost every day, checking out various possible points of interest and helping engineers back on Earth plan the best driving route.

Scientists could also use the helicopter images to look for features for the rover to study in further detail. Another part of the helicopter's job would be to check out the best places for the rover to collect key samples and rocks for a cache, which a next-generation rover could pick up later.

Google Fiber accelerating its expansion

Google Fiber is expanding to 18 cities across four major metropolitan areas — Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham.

Google also noted that it is continuing to explore options for bringing fiber to Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose and would have more updates on those cities this year.

Google Fiber charges $70 per month for gigabit Internet service and $120 for a television and Internet bundle in its the Kansas City market.

India nearing completion of a Predator Drone copy and a stealth bomber drone

Rustom-2 is an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) developed by India on the lines of the American Predator drones. Various reports indicate the Rustom-2 has been flying since 2014. US Predator drones first file in 1994 and in service by 1995.

The AURA will be a stealth UCAV, capable of releasing missiles, bombs and precision-guided munitions. India's combat drone would be a stealthy flying-wing concept aircraft with internal weapons and a turbofan engine. The UCAV's design is similar to Northrop Grumman's B-2 Spirit.

The AURA will cruise at medium altitude and will be capable of carrying two or more guided strike weapons with on-board sensors for targeting and weapon guidance. The flight control system and data link packages of Aura (unmanned combat aerial vehicle) will be designed and developed jointly by ADA and Defence Electronic Application Laboratory.

The AURA first flight is expected to be 2015-2016 and it should be introduced in 2018-2020.

NASA’s Dawn Spacecraft Captures Best-Ever View of Dwarf Planet Ceres

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has returned the sharpest images ever seen of the dwarf planet Ceres. The images were taken 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres on Jan. 25, and represent a new milestone for a spacecraft that soon will become the first human-made probe to visit a dwarf planet.

"We know so little about our vast solar system, but thanks to economical missions like Dawn, those mysteries are being solved," said Jim Green, Planetary Science Division Director at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

At 43 pixels wide, the new images are more than 30 percent higher in resolution than those taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 2003 and 2004 at a distance of over 150 million miles. The resolution is higher because Dawn is traveling through the solar system to Ceres, while Hubble remains fixed in Earth orbit. The new Dawn images come on the heels of initial navigation images taken Jan. 13 that reveal a white spot on the dwarf planet and the suggestion of craters. Hubble images also had glimpsed a white spot on the dwarf planet, but its nature is still unknown.

This animation of the dwarf planet Ceres was made by combining images taken by NASA's Dawn spacecraft on Jan. 25. The spacecraft's framing camera took these images, at a distance of about 147,000 miles (237,000 kilometers) from Ceres, and they represent the highest-resolution views to date of the dwarf planet.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL

787 Enables faster direct international travel and true revolution will come with widespread discount international flying

Chinese airlines are planning regular direct flights from silicon Valley to Beijing. The flights will take 12 hours instead of typical 16 hour flights now.

United is using Boeing 787-9 for service between Los Angeles and Melbourne, Australia.

At a distance of 7,920 miles (6,855 nautical miles), the Los Angeles-Melbourne route is the world's longest with regular Dreamliner service. The 787-9's extended range is 8,550 miles compared with the 787-8's 8,200 miles.

There are also new direct flights from North America to India.

Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s are opening up direct Europe to US routes between secondary cities.

The 787 is enabling discount international airlines. The impact will be greater when more 787s are in service to allow for more flights per day. Norwegian airlines is an example of airline using 787s for direct flights from smaller airports like Oakland in the San Francisco bay area.

I have flown a 787 Dreamliner direct from Oakland to Stockholm. The cabin is more comfortable and the flight with Norwegian airlines was cheaper.

Spacex and Boeing should fly manned crews to the space station starting in 2017

American spacecraft systems testing followed by increasingly complex flight tests and ultimately astronauts flying orbital flights will pave the way to operational missions during the next few years to the International Space Station. Those were the plans laid out Monday by NASA's Commercial Crew Program officials and partners as they focus on developing safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and systems that will take astronauts to the station from American launch complexes.

According to Boeing, the company’s schedule calls for a pad abort test in February 2017, followed by an uncrewed flight test in April 2017, then a flight with a Boeing test pilot and a NASA astronaut in July 2017.

SpaceX said they anticipate a pad abort test in about a month, then an in-flight abort test later this year as part of its previous development phase. An uncrewed flight test is planned for late 2016 and a crewed flight test in early 2017.

SpaceX and Boeing have both completed the first milestones in their plans to send humans into space. SpaceX's goal is to fly over 50 Falcon 9 missions before attempting the first crewed launch in early 2017. Those missions will accommodate four crew members with space for cargo.

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