Sunday, December 10, 2017

Europe Wants its own X-37B, called the Space Rider

Space Rider is a re-entry vehicle, the evolution of the IXV (Intermediate Experimental Vehicle, launched by Vega in February 2015), capable of ‘navigating’ up to 2 months in low Earth orbit before returning to earth. Re-entry enables the recovery of all the useful load that can be analysed, and the vehicle to be reused for a new mission. The contract signed by ESA with Avio and TAS-I (Thales Alenia Space Italia) is worth a total of €36.7 million for the development of the Space Rider system, consisting of two modules: AOM (Avum Orbital Module) and RM (Re-entry Module). Avio will handle the development of AOM, a specific version of AVUM (fourth stage of the VEGA C) capable of supplying power and services for controlling the vehicle’s re-entry attitude during the orbital stage.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Stealth Saga #69

Have Blue & Tacit Blue:

A test pilot that flew both the Tacit Blue and Have Blue prototypes recounts his experiences.

X-2:

Japan will conclude the X-2 program in March 2018.  The RCS was better than expected and all the data required was gathered in 34 flights.  What the path forward for the F-3 program will be will be based on the evaluation of the X-2 data brings to light.  Two options being considered are building a fighter indigenously or with a foreign partner.

FC-31/J-31:

Is the FC-31 being used to help sell...cars?

FGFA:

The Russians are trying to convince the Indians to not abandon the Su-57 derivative for India's first stealth aircraft.

Su-57:


A Su-57 prototype flew with the new engine for around 17 minutes.

Is the Su-57 program toast though?  Some think so.

B-21:

Is the construction at Area 51 related to the B-21 Raider?

B-2:

The B-2 Spirit might be deployed to South Korea for exercises.

The B-2 is getting a new GPS receiver.

F-22:

Six F-22s arrived in South Korea for exercises.

Watch an F-22 hunt and kill an A-4 in an exercise.

An F-22 can actually save fuel by flying faster.  

F-35:

US DOD gave Pratt & Whitney a $351 million contract for logistics and maintenance on the F135 engine.

South Korean media are reporting USAF F-35As deployed to the Korean Peninsula right after the F-22s.  They are both participating in exercises with South Korea.

Does the US Navy actually think the F-35C is important to the carrier air wing?

Some are STILL angry over the F-35 program.

Lockheed certified various weapons for the F-35.

Lockheed is touting the synthetic training capabilities of the F-35.

The F-35 is undergoing cold weather testing in Alaska.

Israel has declared its F-35I to be combat operational.

Two Dutch F-35s did a flyover in Star Wars canyon.

Drag chute deployment tests are underway in Alaska for the Dutch and Norwegian F-35s.

The Netherlands might have problems paying for their last three F-35As due to currency exchange rates.

Counter Stealth:

China is attempting to build a satellite based imaging system that can detect stealth aircraft.

Friday, December 08, 2017

A/2017 U1 "Oumuamua:" More on our Interstellar Visitor



Systematic takes another look at the strange visitor.

Scientists are dazzled by our interstellar visitor.

The visitor is definitely weird.

Is Oumuamua really interstellar in nature?

Where did Oumuamua come from?  The Local Association?  From a binary star system?

What is the origin of Oumuamua?

How does Oumuamua compare to objects from our solar system?

What are the implications for planet and planetesimal formation?

Observations of Oumuamua by the NOT and WIYN telescopes.

Oumuamua is tumbling.

Is Oumuamua really macroscopic dark matter?  Really???

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Will Venezuela Launch First Hyperinflating? or Oil-Backed? Cryptocurrency, the Petro?

President Nicolas Maduro said on Sunday that Venezuela will launch a cryptocurrency to combat what the leftist leader says is a financial “blockade” against the crisis-hit nation spurred by U.S. sanctions.

Maduro said the OPEC member’s new currency, “petro,” will be backed by natural resources reserves although he did not provide details on the logistics of its roll-out.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Russian Test the Moscow Missile Defense System


On November 23, 2017 the Air and Space Defense Forces (VKS) conducted a successful test of an interceptor of the Moscow missile defense system. The test took place at the Sary-Shagan test site. The launch was conducted by the crews of the VKS air and missile defense army.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #17

Genus Homo:

The brains of modern humans are different than other primates in particular ways.

Modern Humans (H. sapiens):

Ancient DNA from South Africa pushes back the origins of modern humans.

How did ancient humans organize themselves?  Check their genomes.

Did the first Americans come via the Kelp Highway?  More evidence.

Ancient mitochondrial DNA studies have shown three different groups swept into Labrador and Newfoundland at different times.

Hobbits (H. floresiensis):

How the Hobbit, LB1, was found.

Did Hobbits eat rats?

Denisovans:

John Hawks disagrees when the Denisovans and Neandertals split.

Neandertals (H. neanderthalensis):

New wrist bones from the Neandertals of El Sidron, Spain have been found and studied.

The Mousterian Neandertals of China are discussed.

A high coverage DNA Neandertal genome has been recovered from Vindijia, Croatia.

The interbreeding between modern humans and Neandertals reintroduced older, lost DNA from ancient, older hominins to the modern human genome.

The interaction between Neandertals and modern humans has been modeled.

A paper suggested modern humans replaced Neandertals through immigration.  A response has been posted.

H. heidelbergensis:

Did the sinuses of H. heidelbergensis have a special role or placement

H. naledi:

Reviewing the September excavations at the Rising Star Caves.

An H. naledi pelvis is examined and found to have characteristics of Homo and Australopithecus pelvises.

Genus Paranthropus:

P. robustus:

Isotopic analysis of P robustus teeth show the environments and even movements of individuals lived in.

META:

Crocodiles may make similar marks on bones when feeding like those interpreted to be done by stone tools and flakes used for butchery by hominins.

The jaws of hominins and their variation give important clues as to whether or not they belong to a specific species.

There are deep concerns some of the fossils from Europe of hominins were stolen and used in a study.  Even the journal has grown concerned.

Stone tools from late Oldowon from the Olduvai are investigated with new digs.

Pounding tools from the Oldowon to Acheulen transition are examined as well.

Friday, December 01, 2017

SpaceX Will Seek US Government Money for the BFR/BFS Rocket

The president of SpaceX said she expects the company would receive additional funding from the U.S. government to support the development of its large reusable launch system.

Speaking at the NewSpace Europe conference here Nov. 16, Gwynne Shotwell noted that SpaceX is already receiving funding from the U.S. Air Force supporting the development of Raptor, the engine that will power the vehicle known as BFR, or Big Falcon Rocket, and the reusable spacecraft known as BFS or Big Falcon Spaceship.

“I do anticipate that there is residual capability of that system that the government will be interested in,” she said. “I do see that we would likely get some funding from the government for BFR and BFS.” She added, though, that work on the vehicles was not contingent on receiving government funding.

One avenue for doing so would be through the U.S. Air Force’s Launch Services Agreement competition, which plans to provide several awards to companies to help fund development of prototype launch systems, though initial test flights, to end U.S. reliance on the Atlas 5 and its Russian-manufactured RD-180 engine. Proposals for the competition are due to the Air Force Nov. 20.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Stealth Saga #68

The Unknown:

NORAD & the FAA are confirming an odd encounter with an unknown aircraft in Oregon.

Canada:

Canada expects to kick off a competition to select a 5th gen fighter in 2019.  um.  There's only one for sale, oh Canada.

KF-X:

Indonesia has failed to pay its part of the KF-X program.

Harris has won a contract for the KF-X.

F-3:

Japan is likely to delay the F-3 program.

Tornado Replacement:

The head of Airbus Defense and Space is calling on Germany and France to hurry up on decisions about the program.

In a bad sign for the program, Germany has stated the preferred replacement for the Tornado is the F-35.

Eurofighter Replacement:

Airbus has unveiled its concept for the Typhoon replacement.

Finland:

Finland will be seeking 64 new fighters.  The F-35 may be a contender.

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The USAF Penetrating Counter Air platform might have a serious funding problem.

The USAF has been working on a new very long range missile for two years.

B-21:

Northrop's parking lots seem to be rather full.  Is it a sign the B-21 program is ramping up?

An FOIA document on the B-21 appears to confirm the B-21 is optionally manned and nuclear capable (but not necessarily at the same time).

F-117:

F-117s were seen on the road under protective covers for transport.  Probably for destruction.

Another F-117 was seen flying the day after the previous one(s) were seen on the road.

F-22:

A com gateway between the F-22 and the F-35 is on the air force wish list.

F-22s conducted its first ground attack mission ever in Afghanistan.  Against a drug lab.

Six F-22s are being deployed to South Korea in December.

Is deploying F-22s to Afghanistan realistic training or just plain overkill?

F-35:

Lockheed has delayed certifying the 3F software build for the F-35 under February.

Lockheed is targeting a $80 million per F-35A price for LRIP 14.

The House authorized 20 more F-35s than the White House asked for: 56 F-35As, 24 F-35B and 10 F-35C.  The Senate has offered less.

Watch 10 more F-35As arrive at Kadena.

The 62nd Fighter Squadron traveled to Mountain Home AFB for the 2nd F-35A training course.

The damaged F-35A was transported from Mountain Home AFB to Utah by the logistics arm of the USAF by ground.

An F-35A underwent extensive lifecycle testing to see how long the airframe will survive.  The fighter seems to have made it through 24,000 hours at this point.

The USMC VMFA-121 is at full strength with its F-35Bs in Japan.

The US Navy gave Lockheed a modest contract to integrate the small diameter bomb II on the F-35.

International partners in the F-35 program are worried about sovereignty issues with the ALIS system in the F-35 and have worked up interim solutions.

British F-35Bs have been training with Kfirs.

The Brits have been talking up the interoperability of the F-35 with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Denmark has found problems with its selection of the F-35.

Israel is ready for its next two F-35Is.

The first Japanese built F-35B flew and landed at Misawa AB.

Norway's receipt of its first F-35s is a major milestone.

UAE wants to buy the F-35, the US is in discussions, but a USAF general is skeptical of a mixed F-35 and Russian air fleet.

Lockheed has stated the international partners in the F-35 program are getting their simulators.

Pratt & Whitney got a contract for spare parts for the F-35.

Counter stealth:

Iran continues to build anti stealth aircraft defenses.

META:

Take a look at the secretive Tonopah test facility.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Robopocalypse Report #98 (mini version)

Apple has released self driving car research.

The British want a large number of self driving cars on the road by 2021.

California may limit the liability of self driving car manufacturers.

Delphi acquired self driving car company nuTonomy.

General Motors is finding self driving cars require a lot of computing power and that negatively impacts fuel economy.

General Motors has been pitching its hydrogen fuel cell tech to the US Army, including self driving, unmanned logistics trucks.

Google is driving its self driving cars around Chandler, Arizona without any backup driver.

Google will also test its cars in Detroit.

The first Las Vegas self driving bus got into an accident just hours after launch.

Lyft has received approval to drive its self driving cars in California.

Singapore will start using self driving buses in 2022.

Uber has ordered 24,000 Volvos for conversion into self driving cars.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Different Russia Minister Says it Will NEVER Legalize Bitcoin

In yet another backflip worthy of the Moscow Circus, a Russian minister has said that the country will never legalize bitcoin, just seven months after another government minister said it was considering making it legal.

Minister of Communications and Mass Media Nikolai Nikiforov made the statement Monday, saying that “bitcoin is a foreign project for using blockchain technology, the Russian law will never consider bitcoin as a legal entity in the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation.”


Sunday, November 12, 2017

China Claims Next Aircraft Carrier Will Have an Electronic Catapult

People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Chinese defence industry officials are claiming that the second of China’s indigenously built aircraft carriers, the Type 002, will be equipped with an electromagnetic catapult, according to a report in the South China Morning Post .

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Terminator Times #35

Drones (UAVs):


The USAF is allowing more airmen to become drone pilots.

The USMC can now print drones with its expeditionary forces.

The US Navy's ONR tested the Nomad UAV on the USS Coronado.

The US Navy has one less competitor in the Stingray unmanned tanker procurement: Northrop has dropped out.  This is a bad sign because NG was seen as the leading contender.  It strongly implies Northrop thinks the competition will not complete or be badly mismanaged,

It appears the MQ-25 Stingray has gone weirdly pear shaped: there are rumors the Stingray will be an unmanned F-18 modified for tanking.  That might be the only way to get the stingray on the deck by 2019 like the Admirals want.  It would explain Northrop's withdrawal.

DARPA has funded the development of a drone that disappears after a single use.

The US Missile Defense Agency has awarded a contract for a laser test program to General Atomics as a precursor to placing a laser on a UAV, probably some variant of GA's Avenger.

Azerbaijan's Heron drones have been spotted at a new base.

The Bolivian Army demonstrated new UAVs, apparently from China.

China will resupply its South China Sea bases with its AT200 cargo drone.

China's Sunic-Ocean unveiled its SU-H2M VTOL drone.

Pakistan claims to have shot down an Indian spy drone.

Portugal is looking for a mini UAV system.

Russia delivered over 30 new drones to its western forces.

Spain has ordered the Fulmar mini UAV system.

The Swiss government is embarrassed because its officials witnessed the testing of the Hermes 900 in the Golan Heights.

Turkey has started manufacturing suicide drones, the Alpagu and Kargu.

The Cormorant UAV got its Safran helicopter engine.

Vanilla Aircraft demonstrated a less than 500 kg UAV that can fly for more than 5 days.

The future of drones gets discussed: higher autonomy, smaller and deadlier, operational challenges, and teaming deployment.

Ogres and Bolos (UGVs):

Russia is procuring armed robots for combat.

Robo Boats (USVs):

China's Yunzhou unveiled its M80B USV for ocean recon.

Robo Subs (UUVs):

The USMC sees a need for multiple types of UUV in the littorals.

Kazakhstan established an MRO facility for UUVs.

Lockheed won a contract to design an Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle.

Skynet (AI):

Google and other tech companies are warning China could outpace the US in AI technology by 2025.

Counter Drone:

China's Digitech is developing counter UAV systems.

Russia has stood up a dedicated drone killing unit.

Friday, November 10, 2017

A/2017 U1: Our First Known Interstellar Visitor


A small, recently discovered asteroid -- or perhaps a comet -- appears to have originated from outside the solar system, coming from somewhere else in our galaxy. If so, it would be the first "interstellar object" to be observed and confirmed by astronomers.

This unusual object - for now designated A/2017 U1 - is less than a quarter-mile (400 meters) in diameter and is moving remarkably fast. Astronomers are urgently working to point telescopes around the world and in space at this notable object. Once these data are obtained and analyzed, astronomers may know more about the origin and possibly composition of the object.

A/2017 U1 was discovered Oct. 19 by the University of Hawaii's Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, during the course of its nightly search for near-Earth objects for NASA. Rob Weryk, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA), was first to identify the moving object and submit it to the Minor Planet Center. Weryk subsequently searched the Pan-STARRS image archive and found it also was in images taken the previous night, but was not initially identified by the moving object processing.

link.

Some are starting to call A/2017 U1 'Oumuamua.'

Is likely to find its next star in around a quadrillion, yes, quadrillion! years.  (get over the math envy, one friend said)

What is the rotation rate of A/2017 U1 and does it have a comet-like tail?

A/2017 U1 appears to be very red and lack absorption lines.

A/2017 U1 seems to have formed in a warm environment, not like the outer solar system.

A/2017 U1 is likely to be interstellar in origin.

Could A/2017 U1 have formed in a local stellar association?

What does A/2017 U1's detection mean about the universe?

What does A/2017 U1 imply about planetary formation?

Thursday, November 09, 2017

A Databus for Quantum Computers

Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation, however, because quantum systems are very sensitive to environmental noise. Although systems can be protected from noise in principle, researchers have been able to build only small prototypes of quantum computers experimentally. One way to reduce the error rate is by encoding quantum information not in one single quantum particle but in several quantum objects. These logical quantum bits or qubits are more robust against noise. In the last few years, theoretical physicists have developed a whole range of error correction codes and optimized them for specific tasks. Physicists Hendrik Poulsen Nautrup and Hans Briegel from the Institute of Theoretical Physics of the University of Innsbruck and Nicolai Friis, now at the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, have found a technique to transfer quantum information between systems that are encoded differently.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Russia's View of American History Podcast

Ivan Kurilla is a Professor of History and International Relations at the European University at St. Petersburg. He specializes in the history of the US–Russian relations, especially during American antebellum and Civil War period. He’s the author of Zaokeanskie partnery: Amerika i Rossiya v 1830-1850-e gody (Partners across the Ocean: The United States and Russia, 1830s–1850s). His scholarship in English includes “Abolition of Serfdom in Russia and American Newspaper and Journal Opinion” in New Perspectives on Russian-American Relations, edited by Norman Saul and Russian/Soviet Studies in the United States, Amerikanistika in Russia: Mutual Representations in Academic Projects, edited with Victoria Zhuraleva and published by Lexington Books.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Russia Will Launch 4th Borei Nuclear Missile Sub in November

The first advanced version of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine Project 955A Borei-class (North Wind) – the Knyaz Vladimir (Prince Vladimir) – will be floated out this coming November, Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Korolev, said in an interview with the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.

“In the near future, the Severodvinsk-based Sevmash Shipyard will float out a new nuclear-powered missile underwater cruiser, the Knyaz Vladimir, from the slipway. The event will take place in November,” he said.

Korolev earlier said that the fourth Borei-class boomer was supposed to have been floated out in August.

The Knyaz Vladimir was laid down in 2012 and will become the fourth submarine in the series of eight Borei-class underwater cruisers and the first submarine of the advanced Borei-A Project.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Stealth Saga #67

KF-X:

The baseline twin engine design has been decided on, but refinements are still being made.  The first prototype roll out is expected in 2022 with an ambitious 2026 entry into service.  The Indonesian variant, called the IF-X is apparently virtually the same as the KF-X, except it will lack stealth coatings and also lack an internal weapons bay.

J-20:

China is moving the J-20 into production.

This stealth fighter is operational.  Really.

Su-57/PAK-FA/T-50:

The Russians are claiming the Su-57 will be (or can be) upgraded with 6th generation fighter capabilities.

FGFA:

More reports the Indian Air Force does not want to continue their participation in the Su-57 program.

Sixth Generation Fighter:

Lockheed scored the laser portion of the SHIELD program, something that will likely lead to a weapon for fifth and especially sixth generation fighters.

The US has been working on a new long range AAM for two years.

Northrop patented a kinetic kill anti missile system for stealth aircraft.

Model 401:


Scaled Composites flew their Model 401 for the first time.  The aircraft looks like a cross between the 1960s Quiet Bird and the General Atomics Avenger.

B-21:

Is the B-21 meant to be a high altitude bomber?

Will the B-21 have morphing wing technology?

B-2:

The B-2 got a night time photo op.

Some interesting details on how the B-2 trained for potential strikes on North Korea.

The B-2 flew over Japan for the first time.

F-117:

In 2006, the largest known formation of stealth aircraft flew over Holloman Air Force Base.

F-22:

Six F-22s have deployed to Britain at RAF Lakenheath.

One of them landed with an open missile bay.

Upgrades to the F-22s might cost $1.7 billion over 11 years.

F-35:

An overview of the F-35 program.

The F-35 had a week of good and bad news.

Corrosion issues are delaying F-35 deliveries by a month.

F-35 deliveries were lagging behind already.

Serious, serious spare parts issues are hitting the F-35 program: depots are six years behind on maintenance already.

F-35s are getting a significant software update.

The USAF has graduated its 500th F-35 fighter pilot.

The USAF has sent one F-35A to Eielson AFB for testing in preparation of the arrival of two F-35 squadrons in 2020.

Two F-35As participated in a South Korean air show.

12 F-35As are being deployed to Japan.  They stopped at Hawaii along the way.

As many as 108 F-35As may not get the most recent software that allows them to be considered combat coded.

The first internationally assembled F-35B has flown its first short take-off and vertical landing.

F-35Bs in Japan performed a night refueling exercise.

The US Navy has been forced to shift qualifying the VFA-125 on the F-35C from the Lincoln to the Vinson by hurricane Irma.

F-35 data was stolen from an Australian defense contractor through hacking.  None of it is supposed to be classified.

The RAF has increased the F-35's risk rating.

A rumors are spreading about an attempted SAM attack on an Israeli F-35I after the Israelis ground their F-35s for a supposed bird strike.

A RNAF F-35A has been sent to Eielson AFB for the second stage of the drag chute testing.

Norwegian F-35As were to return to Norway on November 2nd (they landed).

Turkey is interested in the F-35B.

The F-35 is increasingly important to Lockheed's profitability.

Orbital ATK will be building composite components for the F-35.

Counter Stealth:

The US Navy's newish E-2D Hawkeye is intended (supposedly) to watch for Chinese stealth fighters.

Iran is building air defenses with stealth aircraft in mind.

Friday, November 03, 2017

China Claims Will Fly HOTOL Space Plane in 2020

China plans to launch its reusable spacecraft in 2020, according to a statement from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Tuesday.

Unlike traditional one-off spacecraft, the new spacecraft will fly into the sky like an aircraft, said Chen Hongbo, a researcher from the corporation.

The spacecraft can transport people or payload into the orbit and return to Earth.

link.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Terminator Times #34

UAVs (drones):

The US Army is looking at unmanned medevac & resupply.

DARPA and AFRL are taking aim at drones with lasers.

A USAF Reaper drone was shot down over Yemen (video).

The US Navy has released its final RFP for the MQ-25A Stingray tanker.  (GA released some details on its entry).

The US Navy is also buying more Blackwing UAVs.

The US Navy turned its Fire Scout VTOL UAVs into mine hunters (IOC was declared).


Australia has begun deploying its VIDAR equipped ScanEagles to operational roles.

Australia is also test deploying S-100 VTOL UAVs.

Australia is buying an undisclosed number of Blackhornet 2 micro UAVs for its platoons.

A Belgian UAV crashed in Portugal.

The British awarded small contracts to develop UAVs.

France is looking for UAVs to be used in urban operations.

Israeli UAV manufacturers now face tougher export rules.

Japan awarded Northrop a contract for its Global Hawks.

Libya has acquired Iranian UAVs from somewhere.

Russia may be buying its UCAV tech from...Iran.

Russia's most dangerous drone weapons are its jammers and other electronic warfare assets.

Russia is finding it needs to accelerate development of unmanned systems due to its involvement in the Syrian war.

South Korea is making progress on its unmanned variant of the Little Bird helicopter.

Ukraine unveiled a new combat UAV system.

AeroVironment has upgraded its Puma UAV for a heavier payload.

Boeing bought Aurora Flight Sciences and tapped one of Aurora's execs to head of Boeing's Phantom Works.

General Atomics has transitioned its Gray Eagle production to the ER variant.

IAI & Brazil is attempting to sell their Heron derivative to civilians.

IAI is also demonstrating its Air Hopper VTOL for casualty evacuation.

IAI is testing an enhanced version of its Panther VTOL UAV for South Korea.

UGVs (Bolos, Ogres & Terminators):

The US Army awarded a UGV contract.

The US Army will also release RFPs for two UGV systems next year.

The US Army is about to send UGVs out for its Squad Maneuver Equipment Transport tests.

Finland's Patria bought a stake in Estonia's Milrem.

Ukraine unveiled its second generation UGCV, the RSVK-M2.

Meet RoMan.

GM's SURUS builds on its work for the US Army with the ZH2 Colorado.

Polaris' little trucks can be converted into self driving vehicles.

Qinetiq's Titan SMET entry was developed from its smaller MAARS.

Stratom has entered the UGV market with its XR-P.

USVs (robo ships):

Liquid Robotics' Wave Glider gets a profile at War is Boring.

UUV (Robot Subs):

The US Navy just stood up its first UUV squadron.

The US Navy awarded contracts to Boeing and Lockheed for the XLUUV.

META:

NATO in general is pushing for more autonomous mine hunting.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

China's new Cruiser may be Comparable to the US Navy's Ticonderoga Class


Chinese state television has broadcast the first clear, overhead view of the Chinese navy’s first Type 055 cruiser. The image confirms what foreign analysts have expected since the new cruiser began taking shape in 2014.

The Type 055 carries no fewer than 122 missiles in vertical cells — any mix of anti-air, anti-ship and land-attack models. That matches the weapons-loadout of the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga-class cruisers … and exceeds the armament of every other surface warship in the Pacific region.

The new cruiser could enter service as early as 2018.

The Type 055 — which is an estimate 590 feet long and displaces at least 10,000 tons — represents a new class of warship for the Chinese navy. When Beijing launched its naval rearmament program in the 1990s, it focused on building large numbers of small- and medium-size corvettes, frigates and destroyers.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Paleolithic Papers #16

Genus Homo:

H. sapiens (modern humanity):

Humans are still evolving.

Did modern humans leave Africa to attempt to escape a drying climate?

Facial phenotypes support a multiple dispersal for modern humans.

Modern human spit contains some surprises about our hominin ancestry.

It appears settling down and abandoning, or at least reducing the nomadic life style, allowed technology to start developing faster 64,000 years ago.

Some of the mutations associated with white skin have an African origin.

Did Paleolithic humans realize the dangers of inbreeding and have breeding networks?

A child from 2,000 years ago in south africa gives hints that modern humans originated 300k years ago.

Rock art in Australia appears to show the extinct giant bird Genyornis.

H. neanderthalensis (Neandertals):

DNA analysis of different Neandertal populations advances our understanding of hominin evolution.  (psst, the Altai Neandertals were the hillbillies of their world).

DNA analysis also suggests a higher percentage of Neandertal DNA survives in modern populations.

Neandertals appeared to grow at a similar rate as modern humans.

How thick was the enamel of the Neandertal canine teeth?

Were Neandertals distilling and using tar?

Neandertal City aka Gibraltar, gets profiled.

Rethinking the Upper Paleolithic Transition in Grotte Mandrin.

What was the mechanism that caused the Neandertals to go extinct and be replaced by modern humans?

What traits are tied to the introgression of Neandertal genes into the modern Human line?

H. georgicus:

The Georgian hominins from Dzudzuana and Satsurblia caves are described.

H. erectus:

A trackway from H. erectus in Kenya is studied.

Genus Paranthropus:

P. bosei:

The probable source of herpes has been claimed: Paranthropus bosei.  Yes, friends, one human ancestor couldn't keep it zipped.  I'm looking at you, H. erectus.  Like we REALLY believe the watering hole story, Upright Man.

Genus Australopithecus:

A. anamensis:

Where did A. anamensis live?  What sort of environment was it?

META:

The fossils trackways from the Greek hominin from 5.7 million years ago are in danger.

How facial features have evolved in hominins through time.

Chimps can learn to use tools without being taught.

Savannah living chimps don't seem to eat more meat than their forest cousins.

The rest of their dietary comparison is here.

Tool using macaques are wiping out shellfish populations.

Was bipedality in hominins a by-product of developmental processes?

The differences in loading on the 3rd metacarpal heads in humans and chimpanzees.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bigelow, United Launch Alliance Plan Lunar Orbiting Space Station in 2022


Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance said Oct. 17 that they are cooperating on the development of a habitat orbiting the moon that they hope to build in a public-private partnership with NASA.

The companies said they are working together on a concept for a “lunar depot” using an expandable module provided by Bigelow and launched by a next-generation ULA rocket that could support both NASA and commercial uses as soon as 2022.

Under the concept, a ULA Vulcan 562 rocket would launch the Bigelow B330 module into low Earth orbit. The module would remain in Earth orbit for up to a year to undergo tests and be visited by crews.

ULA would then launch two more Vulcan rockets, each placing an Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) upper stage in orbit. One of the ACES would refuel the other, which would then dock with the B330 and send the module into a low lunar orbit.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Russian Experimental Nuclear Warheads Were Deployed in Parallel

It appears that we have an answer to the question of what kind of "experimental warheads" were tested in the September 12 Yars launch. And a confirmation of a guess made on Twitter by @artjomh shortly after the test. The image above is from that post - it's from a textbook they use at the Bauman University. According to The Diplomat's Ankit Panda, Russia tested "an independent post-boost vehicle (IPBV) configuration for a three-warhead version [of the Yars ICBM]." The Bauman textbook calls it "an RV with independent (parallel) deployment." As can be seen from the image, each RV is sitting on top of its own mini-bus, which is different from a more common configuration, when one bus deploys RVs one after another.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Pondering the Precambrian #6

Proterozoic:

NeoProterozoic:

There is evidence of a potential blacksmoker vent from the NeoProterozoic.

Ocean subduction evidence has been found in China.

Comb Jellies appear to have be the oldest divergent, yet still living, branch of animals.

Ediacaran:

An Ediacaran protist fossil seems to show how those organisms' reproduction in action.

Evidence of the opening of the Iapetus Sea in Russia during the Ediacaran has been uncovered.

The submerged Batavian Knoll is a microcontinent with evidence of the assembly of Gondwana.

Biostratigraphical evidence is coming together for the Ediacaran from China.

The nuclei and nucleoli in the embryos found in Ediacaran China's Weng'an Biota.

Understanding the Ediacaran paleoecologies.

Should the extinction of Cloudina lucianoi mark the Ediacaran/Cambrian boundary?

Could Ediacaran rangeomorphs actually burrow?

Cryogenian:

It appears the Sturtian Snowball Earth episode began circa 717 million years ago.

Tonian:

The Tonian/Cryogenian boundary has been proposed for specific spots in Scotland.

A vase shaped microfossil has been found in the Tonian deposits around the world.

There appears to have been a mass extinction during the Tonian prior to the Snowball Earth episodes.

Mesoproterozoic:

There is evidence Archean granites were reworked and uranium deposited during the Calymmian in the Olympic Dam Breccia in Australia.

Eukaryote fossils were found in Calymmian deposits in China.

Are some fossils that are normally thought to be NeoProterozoic (Tonian/Cryogenian) found in the MesoProterozoic deposits of Russia?

At the dawn of the Mesoproterozoic, at the Statherian/Calymmian boundary, Australia made contact with northwestern Laurentia and began a long slide along its margin.

Paleoproterozoic:

Evidence of an island arc from the Paleoproterozoic came from West Africa.

There may have been two island arcs in Finland during the PaleoProterozoic.

How the Francevillian formation formed in the Rhyacian.

The microfossils of the Francevillian Biota get examined.

Evidence from India for proto continents in the Rhyacian.

Archean:

Findings from the NeoArchean from the North American Craton support local evidence of plate tectonics.

Did the development of carbonate platforms in the NeoArchean pave the way for the Great Oxygenation Event?

Is there evidence of biogenic atmospheric oxygen during the MesoArchean?

The emergence of the continents may have happened over multiple differentiation events.

Evidence of life was found in EoArchean sediments from Labrador, Canada.

Hadean:

Caution should be taken when examining Hadean zircons.

Did life form in warm little pools?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Commercial Crew Launches Schedule Slip

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements.


[...]

Targeted Test Flight Dates:

Boeing Orbital Flight Test: August 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: November 2018

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: April 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): August 2018

Editor’s Note: Note the careful wording of this latest press release: “most recent publicly releasable dates.” So, how far are the latest slips? Here is where they were in July.

Previous Targeted Test Flight & Milestone Dates (July 20, 2017):

Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018
Boeing Operational Readiness Review: September 2018
Certification Review: October 2018

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: February 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): June 2018
SpaceX Operational Readiness Review: August 2018
Certification Review: September 2018