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Posts Tagged ‘Lockheed Martin

Space junk solution in the works

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A next-generation space surveillance system will rely on high-resolution radar and high-performance computing.

The space-junk alerts that have been sounded on the International Space Station over the past couple of weeks highlight the need for the “Space Fence,” a next-generation system for tracking orbital debris that’s due to begin operation in 2015.

One of the alerts, on June 28, came so late that the station didn’t have time to get out of the way. The six astronauts living aboard the orbital outpost had to take shelter in Russian Soyuz lifeboats while debris of unknown origin zoomed past at a distance of just 850 feet (260 meters).

The other alert came Sunday, just as the space shuttle Atlantis was beginning its last visit to the space station. Initially, mission managers worried that the station-shuttle complex would have to be moved out of the way of some Soviet-era satellite debris, but today they said the junk would pass by harmlessly at aNA distance of 11 miles (18 kilometers).

The first case in particular demonstrates why debris-trackers need to know more about what’s out there, said Doug Burgess, manager for space situational awareness programs at Raytheon.

“They only had 15 hours to make a decision about whether to maneuver or not, and clearly human life was at stake,” Burgess told me today. “If the capability that Space Fence brings to bear were available, they would have had a much longer lead time.”

Today, orbital-debris trackers at NASA and the U.S. Strategic Command can keep track of only the tip of the iceberg: About 20,000 pieces of space junk have been cataloged, but experts estimate that somewhere between 100,000 and 500,000 objects larger than a centimeter (half an inch) are in Earth orbit. At orbital speeds of up to 17,500 mph, even an inch-wide piece of debris could destroy a satellite or damage the space station if it struck in the wrong place.

 

Lockheed Martin video explains the concept behind the Space Fence.

“This issue has always been on the minds of people who are trying to use space for all the things that it’s used for today. … We really are heavily reliant on space,” John Morse, director of Lockheed Martin’s Space Fence Program, told Discovery News.

More satellites in orbit tend to breed more space junk, as illustrated by the 2009 collision of a defunct Russian weather satellite and an Iridium telecom satellite, which left thousands of additional pieces of debris in orbit. “The situation is only going to get worse in time,” Burgess said.

That’s where the $3.5 billion Space Fence comes in. The existing radar tracking system, known as the Air Force Space Surveillance System, uses VHF and UHF frequency bands to track orbital debris, but those wavelengths are too wide to catch the small stuff. The new system will be far more sensitive because it’ll operate in finer-resolution S-band wavelengths.

“It’s an order-of-magnitude improvement,” Burgess said.

But that’s just the start: The next-generation Space Fence will also rely on high-performance computing to identify and keep track of orbital paths for what’s likely to be hundreds of thousands of bits of orbiting junk. That should provide better “predict-ahead ability,” Burgess said. Right now, NASA’s rules call for the space station’s crew to take evasive action — or prepare to abandon ship — if a piece of debris is projected to fly within an imaginary “pizza box” that’s about 15 miles (25 kilometers) on each side and a half-mile (0.75 kilometers) above and below the station. The Space Fence would reduce the margin of error.

“Things like the pizza box get smaller, your uncertainty gets smaller, your ability to predict orbital tracks in advance becomes greater,” Burgess said.

 

Raytheon video focuses on the company’s experience with radar technology.

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin are in competition for the Space Fence contract, and in February, the U.S. Air Force provided each company with a $107 milllion, 18-month design contract. The designs are to get a preliminary review next February, with the contract awarded a year from now. The first of three planned globe-girdling radar installations is to be in operation in 2015, and the Space Fence should be fully operational in 2020. The favored sites for the installations are in Australia, the Marshall Islands and Ascension Island.

$3.5 billion may sound like a lot to pay for an invisible fence. But when you consider that the space station alone is a $100 billion-plus investment that needs to last until at least 2020 … well, it just seems to me that they can’t build that fence fast enough.

 

Via MSNBC

UFOs Filmed Over London — Or Not

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For extraterrestrials notoriously shy about making their presence known to Earthlings, they have been making more and more appearances in home videos over the past six months.

One of the most famous was the UFO that appeared over the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic shrine in Jerusalem, on January 28. Discovery News writer Ian O’Neill published one of the first analyses of the video (based in part on my own investigation), demonstrating that it was “almost certainly a hoax.”

A more comprehensive analysis by the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), one of the oldest, largest, and most respected UFO investigation organizations in the world, also later concluded that it was faked.

A few months later, on April 21, another ‘alien’ home video surfaced. This one, allegedly taken in Russia, showed two young men finding an alien body on a rural, snowy farm. It, too, was soon revealed to be a hoax.

Now, right on schedule, comes yet another UFO home video, this one taken in London, England. According to a report in the Daily Mail:

“In the video, the cameraman runs towards the corner of Bolsover Street and Clipstone Street where two other men are already standing, gazing skywards, one of whom is using a mobile phone camera. As the camera is pointed upwards, over the BBC’s Yalding House, three white dots flash across the sky at great speed in a triangle formation, they are very quickly followed by two similar sized white dots. As the camera pans down again, two people on the opposite side of the road can also been seen watching events unfold above them. Then one larger, bright and more slow moving disc-shaped white object appears, circles around briefly and zips off.”

The video, one of at least two similar videos, was posted to YouTube last week and soon went viral over the Web, stirring interest and controversy among believers and skeptics alike.

Though evidence may eventually validate the video, a preliminary analysis strongly suggests that this video, like the others, is a hoax. For one thing, it’s not clear who shot the video, or even when; anonymous eyewitnesses are a red flag.

Furthermore, the UFOs (like the one that appeared in the hoaxed Jerusalem video) are very easy to fake with video-editing software, mere spots of light without structure or detail.

Adding fuel for the skeptical grist, it seems that no one else on the busy London street near the British Broadcasting Building saw the many bright glowing objects in the sky. Logic suggests that there would have been thousands of eyewitnesses, yet the cameraman captured an event that apparently no one else saw.

It’s also suspicious that though the video shows others recording the amazing event, no other photos or videos from the same angle have surfaced. Surely one of the other UFO eyewitnesses present (and seen in the video) would have come forward in the past weeks to sell their own photographs or videos to a newspaper or television station — perhaps the BBC would be interested, since it occurred above their building.

Faked UFO videos may be fun for hoaxers (or as viral marketing), but even many people firmly convinced that UFOs are real are getting tired of the hoaxes. After all, how will we know when the real UFO videos surface? No one likes to be fooled, and the best preventative is to examine all the evidence with a sense of history and a skeptical eye.

 

Via Discovery

China hacks Gmail accounts of senior U.S. officials one day after Obama’s cyber warning

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  • Google said U.S. government officials targeted
  • Security breach larger than previous Gmail attacks
  • Pentagon warn U.S. may retaliate with military force
  • Hackers also target military contractor that supplies unmanned aerial vehicles
  • Beijing denies being behind attack

Fears China is plotting a devastating ‘cyber war’ against the West were heightened yesterday when it emerged Chinese hackers have stolen hundreds of passwords belonging to senior U.S. government officials.

The security breach was revealed by Google which said victims had been carefully targeted in a scam traced to the city of Jinan in the Communist state’ s Shangdong province.

Experts suspect Chinese hackers are capable of reducing the U.S. or its allies including Britain to stone-age conditions at the press of a button – by crippling the computers running everything from banks and supermarkets to power stations and water plants.

 

Hacked: Google admitted that hundreds of Gmail accounts had been targeted by hackers in China, including those of senior U.S. officials

Hacked: Google admitted that hundreds of Gmail accounts had been targeted by hackers in China, including those of senior U.S. officials.

In a chilling echo of the Cold War, a ‘cyber arms race’ is rapidly developing between East and West, with the U.S. even threatening to retaliate with military weapons to any ‘act of war’ attack on its computers from a foreign power.

Earlier this week the US said it would react militarily to future cyber incursions from other countries.

One U.S. military official quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying: ‘If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks.’

British defence minister Nick Harvey underlined the growing sense of panic by declaring that ‘action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield’.

Row: Google said the phishing scam had originated in China

Row: Google said the phishing scam had originated in China.

Sir Michael Rake, chairman of BT Group and a figurehead for cyber security issues in industry, warned world powers were being drawn into a hi-tech arms race in which countries could wage war without firing a single shot.

Sir Michael said: ‘I don’t think personally it’s an exaggeration to say you can bring a state to its knees without any military action whatsoever.’

Although there is no direct evidence that the Chinese hackers in the latest case are in the pay of the Chinese government, their attacks were so sophisticated and highly-targeted that few experts doubt they were state-sponsored.

Apart from anything else, unlike other internet scams, there was no obvious financial gain behind them, suggesting a sinister rather than a financial motive.

Senior U.S. and South Korean government officials who fell victim to the scam were tricked into giving away their Google and Yahoo email login details.

Threat: The Pentagon said it is ready to retaliate against cyber attacks

Threat: The Pentagon said it is ready to retaliate against cyber attacks.

Defence: The Pentagon will reclassify cyber attacks as an aggressive act if it causes the equivalent loss of life or damage to infrastructure as a conventional military attack

Defence: The Pentagon will reclassify cyber attacks as an aggressive act if it causes the equivalent loss of life or damage to infrastructure as a conventional military attack.

They had received ‘Trojan horse’ emails that purported to be from someone they knew, but were in fact carefully-crafted fakes.

One example email had the title: ‘Fw: Draft US-China Joint Statement’, and contained the text: ‘This is the latest version of State’s joint statement.’

Enticed into opening the email, the unsuspecting user was directed to a convincing but bogus Google or Yahoo email page where they were invited to type in their login and password. When they did so, their supposedly-secret details immediately fell into the hands of the Chinese hackers.

Armed with the passwords, the hackers could access the user’s real email account and spy on genuine emails being sent between government officials.

Although the scam – which went on for months before being uncovered – targeted personal email accounts, rather than government accounts, officials could have forwarded their work emails to their personal Gmail accounts.

Sensitive: The Lockheed Joint Strike Fighter, just one of many weapons manufactured by the company and used by both the U.S. and the UK armed forces

Sensitive: The Lockheed Joint Strike Fighter, just one of many weapons manufactured by the company and used by both the U.S. and the UK armed forces.

A Google spokesman said yesterday: ‘Google detected and has disrupted this campaign to take users’ passwords and monitor their emails. We have notified victims and secured their accounts.’

The White House said it was investigating. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the allegations were ‘very serious’ and would be investigated by the FBI.

Online threat: Hackers have breached Lockheed security (file photo)Beijing has repeatedly denied hacking into foreign countries’ systems.

Britian has found itself under attack also.

Last month, Chancellor George Osborne revealed that foreign intelligence agencies were trying to break into the Treasury computer system to steal information or spread viruses at the rate of more than one attack a day.

MI5 and the FBI have warned British and American companies of the mushrooming threat from Chinese government-backed hackers trying to pilfer commercial secrets.

Whitehall has announced an extra £500million to be spent on bolstering cyber security, amid concerns that Britain’s computer networks linking banking, power and water systems are too vulnerable to digital sabotage.

But America is not always the victim in cyber attacks. The U.S. and Israel were blamed for the development of the Stuxnet virus, a computer worm that targets industrial software and was credited with sabotage attacks on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Delegates at an international cyber security conference held in London this week warned the crisis was so severe that nations should agree an international ‘non-proliferation’ treaty similar to the one drawn up to slow the spread of nuclear weapons.

 

Via DailyMail

U.S. arms makers said to be bleeding secrets to cyber foes

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Top Pentagon contractors have been bleeding secrets for years as a result of penetrations of their computer networks, current and former national security officials say.

The Defense Department, which runs its own worldwide eavesdropping, spying and code-cracking systems, says more than 100 foreign intelligence organizations have been trying to break into U.S. networks.

Some of the perpetrators “already have the capacity to disrupt” U.S. information infrastructure, Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn, who is leading remedial efforts, wrote last fall in the journal Foreign Affairs.

Joel Brenner, the National Counterintelligence executive from 2006 to 2009, said most if not all of the big defense contractors’ networks had been pierced.

“This has been happening since the late ’90s,” he told Reuters Tuesday. He identified the main threats as coming from Russia, China and Iran.

“They’re after our weapons systems and R&D,” or research and development, said Brenner, now with the law firm of Cooley LLP in Washington.

Lockheed Martin Corp, the Pentagon’s No. 1 supplier by sales, said on Saturday that it had thwarted “a significant and tenacious” attack on its information systems network that it detected May 21. Ten days later, the company says its still working to restore full employee access to the network while maintaining the highest level of security.

Lockheed, which is also the government’s top information technology provider, said it had become “a frequent target of adversaries from around the world.” A spokeswoman said it said it used the term “adversaries” only in a general sense.

Lockheed builds F-16, F-22 and F-35 fighter jets as well as Aegis naval combat system, THAAD missile defense and other big-ticket weapons systems sold to U.S. allies. It has not disclosed which of its business units was targeted.

Cyber intruders were reported in 2009 to have broken into computers holding data on Lockheed’s projected $380 billion-plus F-35 fighter program, the Pentagon’s costliest arms purchase.

Other big Pentagon contractors include Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp, BAE Systems Plc and Raytheon Co. Each of these declined to comment on whether it believed its networks had been penetrated.

James Miller, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, said last May that the United States was losing terabytes of data in cyber attacks, enough to fill “multiple Libraries of Congress.” The world’s largest library, its archive totaled about 235 terabytes of data as of April, the Library of Congress says on its web site.

“The scale of compromise, including the loss of sensitive and unclassified data, is staggering,” Miller told a Washington forum.

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who led a Senate Intelligence Committee cyber task force last year, said in March that cybercrime has put the United States “on the losing end of what could be the largest illicit transfer of wealth in world history.”

Retired Air Force General Michael Hayden, a former director of central intelligence and ex-head of the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, said no network was safe if it had Internet access.

“You can isolate a network, a classified network,” he told Reuters in an interview last year. “Maybe you can get a certain level of confidence that you are not penetrated. But if you are out there connected to the world wide web you are vulnerable all the time.”

Anup Ghosh, a former senior scientist at the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, said there had been a string of intrusions into networks of U.S. defense contractors, security companies and U.S. government labs, including the U.S. Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, since the start of this year.

The advantage is with the intruders, said Ghosh, who worked on securing military networks for DARPA from 2002 to 2006 and now heads Invincea, a software security company.

“We’ve failed to innovate in the area of information security,” he said in an email Tuesday. “We’re fighting today’s battles with the equivalent of cold-war era defenses.”


Via NewsDaily