Wednesday, July 2, 2008

NGA, ChemBots, FCS, CACI, Northrop, + News

Pentagon will buy satellites to do more spying
In this June 27, 2006, file photo a Boeing's Delta 4 rocket, carrying a a spy satellite skyward on a classified mission, is launched into space at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Military and industry officials say that in the first week of July 2008, it will be announced that the Pentagon will buy and operate up to two commercial imagery satellites and plans to design and build a third with more sophisticated capabilities to spy on enemy troop movements, spot construction at suspected nuclear sites and alert commanders to new militant training camps, government

The Pentagon will buy and operate one or two commercial imagery satellites and plans to design and build another with more sophisticated spying capabilities, according to government and private industry officials.
The satellites could spy on enemy troop movements, spot construction at suspected nuclear sites and alert commanders to militant training camps.
The Broad Area Space-Based Imagery Collector satellite system, or BASIC, will cost between $2 billion and $4 billion. It would add to the secret constellation of satellites that now circle the Earth, producing still images that are pieced together into one large mosaic.
A single satellite can visit one spot on Earth once or twice every day. BASIC's additional satellites will allow multiple passes over the same sites, alerting U.S. government users to potential trouble, humanitarian crises or natural disasters like floods.
The announcement of the BASIC program, expected this week, has been delayed for months, with Pentagon, Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office officials fighting over who should be in charge of buying, building and operating the satellites. They have also debated whose needs the system will cater to: senior military commanders or policymakers in Washington.
At stake was not just money but power: Billion-dollar budgets are up for grabs, and the agencies' traditional missions and ways of doing business have been hanging in the balance.
The National Reconnaissance Office ultimately won the right to buy and operate the satellites, besting the Air Force. And military commanders' needs trumped the White House. They will, for the first time, have the opportunity to dictate what satellites will photograph when they pass overhead. The concept is known as "assured tasking."
"The battlefield today is so dynamic the warfighter needs to be able to respond at a moment's notice. Knowing they have the opportunity to have assured tasking in the next pass of satellite becomes very critical and helpful in the planning of their operations," Josh Hartman, the Pentagon director for space and intelligence capability acquisition, told The Associated Press.
Military commanders have long desired that kind of tasking control. Now, they submit their requests to a national intelligence authority that prioritizes the missions. And sometimes those requests are delayed or rejected.
The new satellite system is meant to bridge what intelligence agencies fear will become a gap caused by the cancellation in September 2005 of a major component of the Future Imagery Architecture system overseen by the National Reconnaissance Office. Prime contractor The Boeing Co., headquartered in Chicago, ran into technical problems developing the satellite and spent nearly $10 billion, blowing its budget by $3 billion to $5 billion before the Pentagon pulled the plug, according to industry experts and government reports.
The Pentagon hopes BASIC will fill in some of the lost capabilities in key ways: (cont...)

Futuristic 'Chembots' Could Squeeze Through Small Spaces

Soft and squishy chemical robots will one day squeeze through tight spots, then expand to 10 times larger, offering an advantage over rigid robots.
Once a mission is complete, a chembot would biodegrade.
The chembots could get into a building through a crack, for example. They could explore a cave or crevice and dismantle an explosive. Or they might climb ropes, wires or trees.
Another tiny idea: One chembot could pack a smaller chembot into a situation, then release it for even more minute explorations

Researchers at Tufts University have received a $3.3 million contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build the soft automatons.
ChemBots represent "the convergence of soft materials chemistry and robotics. It is an entirely new way of looking at robots and could someday yield great technological advantage for our armed forces," said Mitchell Zakin, who oversees the program for DARPA.

Tufts neurobiologist Barry Trimmer studies the nervous systems of caterpillars, which grow 10,000-fold in mass after hatching from the larval stage. He studies how they move so flexibly without joints and control movement so precisely with a simple brain.
Using biomaterials and bioengineered polymers, genetic engineering and nanotechnology, Trimmer and colleagues in other fields hope to duplicate some of the caterpillars' traits and behaviors. His lab has already built some prototypes.
"Use of all-biodegradable biopolymer systems will allow use of the robots in a broad range of environmental applications, as well as medical scenarios, without requiring retrieval after completion of the designated tasks," said co-principal investigator David Kaplan biomedical engineer at Tufts. "We expect that these devices will literally be able to disappear after completing their mission."
The chembot would have hair-like sensors for temperature, pressure, chemical and audio/video and to use wireless communication. (cont...)

A Preview Of How Tommy Thompson Wants To Spend Nearly $3 Billion On Fighting Bioterrorism
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson
Americans may have turned their attention to other matters over the past few months, but Thompson has been focused on shoring up the nation's public-health system. On Friday, he will present Congress with plans for spending the extra $2.63 billion in emergency bioterrorism funds that lawmakers set aside late last year-that's an amount more than 10 times what Congress spent in 2001. Thompson not only sees the new spending as a way to protect the country against bioterror but also as a chance to bolster the public-health system to fight other problems like natural-disease outbreaks. "We have a golden opportunity to really strengthen, build, improve a state and local public-health system," says Thompson.
The bulk of the money will go to the states, which will develop their own plans for bioterror preparedness. As a former governor himself, Thompson wants to give the states maximum flexibility. "We want the governor to sign off so that he or she is committed as much as we are," Thompson says (cont...)

International simulation company to open office in Suffolk
An international modeling, simulation and training company plans to open an office here, the city announced today.
Montreal-based CAE will open a field office in the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center in northern Suffolk, according to a release from the department of economic development.
The company employs more than 6,000 people at more than 75 sites in 20 countries. John Lenyo, president and general manager of CAE USA, said it wanted to be in Hampton Roads “because of the area's concentration of defense and homeland security departments, as well as the significant focus and support for modeling and simulation in the region," according to the city’s release.

Northrop scoops DARPA mindreader-helmet threat visor cash
American armaments goliath Northrop Grumman announced another huge technology coup this week. The company has won a Pentagon contract to develop a mindreading hat which will allow US soldiers to identify threats with unparalleled range and speed.
The military requirement was actually called Cognitive Technology Threat Warning System (CT2WS), but Northrop don't have any truck with crazy acronyms of that type. Instead, they refer to the proposed kit as HORNET (Human-aided Optical Recognition/Notification of Elusive Threats)*......

FCS Gets Absorbed By RFI
July 2, 2008: The U.S. Army has dropped any pretence of trying to roll out its new FCS (Future Combat Systems) stuff as a complete package. The Department of Defense has ordered that FCS items be readied for combat use as soon as possible. The future will arrive piecemeal, as had been happening ever since September 11, 2001, and especially since early 2003....

US Air Force Selects DAC to Develop New Technologies for Identifying Terror
Arlington, VA (PRWEB) July 2, 2008 -- Decisive Analytics Corporation (DAC) announced today that it has been selected by the US Air Force to develop new technologies for identifying terror networks. This asymmetric threat poses perhaps the most dangerous risk to US forces and assets both overseas and at home. Because of the sheer amount of data available, identifying terrorist activities can be very difficult. To overcome this problem, DAC is developing new ways to automatically identify terror networks while also understanding the context they represent. Social Networks In Context (SONIC) provides the capability to understand the roles of different network nodes, understand the semantic relationships between entities, and automatically identify important clusters of entities within a dynamic terror network. SONIC builds on DAC's BOBCAT approach to identifying and stopping the terror threat. The capabilities developed under SONIC will be made available to BOBCAT customers in late 2008 and early 2009. Terrorism expert Dr. Marc Sageman is partnered with DAC on this effort. ...

CACI calls Abu Ghraib lawsuits baseless

General Dynamics to expand Fort Meade communications


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