Sonntag, 10. März 2013 - 18:00 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Reality TV vom Mars?



PARIS — As Wernher von Braun, the rocket scientist, used to say, the most overwhelming obstacle to exploring the cosmos isn’t gravity. It’s the paperwork.

Not to mention the money. 

So when Bas Lansdorp began dreaming more than a decade ago about establishing the first permanent human colony on Mars, his primary focus was not on overcoming the technological challenges. It was the business model.

“All the technology we need exists already — or nearly exists,” he said. “I just couldn’t figure out how to finance it.”

Mr. Lansdorp, a 36-year-old Dutch engineer and entrepreneur, does not have the name recognition of Dennis Tito, the American financier and space tourist, who announced a plan last month to send two people on a round-trip Mars flyby in 2018. Nor can Mr. Lansdorp hope to match the deep pockets of Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who has proposed sending as many as 80,000 people to the Red Planet and charging them $500,000 each. Richard Branson, the Virgin entrepreneur, has space aspirations, too.

But Mr. Lansorp is convinced that he has found the perfect plan to raise the $6 billion he says he needs to land an initial crew of four people on the Martian surface by 2023. The entire mission — from the astronauts’ selection and training to their arrival and construction of a permanent settlement — would be broadcast as a worldwide, multiyear reality television show.

“How many people do you think would want to watch the first humans arrive on Mars?” Mr. Lansdorp asked in a recent interview, recalling the more than 600 million viewers who were said to have tuned in to the grainy, black-and-white images of Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon in 1969.

“This will be one of the biggest events in human history,” he said. “We are talking about creating a major media spectacle, much bigger than the moon landings or the Olympics, and with huge potential for revenues coming from TV rights and sponsorships.”

For the record, Mr. Lansdorp will be executive producer, not an actor, in this extravaganza: He does not plan to make the trip himself. And despite the significant skepticism his plan has raised in some quarters, he cites his success in starting and cashing out of the wind-energy company Ampyx Power — a company trying to use pilotless, tethered aircraft to generate electricity — as evidence that he can turn lofty ideas into financially viable realities. Mr. Lansdorp declined to say how much he had made selling his stake in Ampyx, a privately held company, other than indicating it had been enough that he would not have to work for at least several years.

With just 10 years to select and prepare its first crew, the project, called Mars One, expects to begin recruiting prospective astronauts online this spring. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, be physically fit and speak English, and they must be willing to live out the final selection process and an eight-year training program — not to mention the Mars mission itself — under the constant stare of a television camera. No specific technical skills or experience are required, but be sure to read the fine print: For reasons of cost and logistics, this is a one-way trip.

“Reality meets talent show, with no ending and the whole world watching,” is how Paul Romer, a Dutch television executive and the co-creator of the original “Big Brother” series, describes it in an endorsement on the Mars One Web site.

These days, Mars One is raising more eyebrows than cash. Until this year, the project was financed almost entirely by Mr. Lansdorp himself. Last month, Mars One secured its first commitments from outside investors, and those funds will be used to finance the first conceptual design studies for the various hardware components, including the spacecraft and lander, life support systems, supply vehicles and communications systems.

The site has received about 1.7 million unique visitors since it went live last June, according to Google Analytics. But more than 8,000 people, from more than 100 countries, have already e-mailed résumés since online recruiting began in January. Dr. Norbert Kraft, a specialist in aerospace medicine and a former researcher at NASA, as well as the space agencies of Japan and Russia, leads a team of experts who will vet applicants for their basic suitability.

“This is a big trip,” Dr. Kraft said. “They will have to be really ready for that physically and psychologically.”

The pool will be narrowed to a few hundred candidates by 2014, at which point Mars One hopes to begin televising the process in select countries.Nick du Plooy, a medical student applying from Pretoria, South Africa, confessed that he was not a huge fan of standard-fare reality TV and hoped Mars One would be “held to a higher quality standard.” Mr. Plooy, 22, said he imagined the grueling routine of his coming medical internship and residency years would help him prepare for the rigors of life as an astronaut. 

Mr. Lansdorp has set up Mars One as a nonprofit foundation, but it is the controlling shareholder in a for-profit company, Interplanetary Media Group, that owns the exclusive right to sell mission broadcast and advertising rights. Just how much those rights might be worth is anyone’s guess — but Mars One is betting that it is a lot.

Mr. Lansdorp cites a report published last year by the International Olympic Committee that said the winter and summer Games — three-week events, staged every two years — had generated about $5 billion in revenue from 2009 to 2012, of which more than $3.9 billion had come from the sale of broadcast rights.

The more direct comparison, reality TV, has generated significant revenue for broadcasters for years. Although past its peak, the British version of “Big Brother” generated in 2006 as much as a fourth of the annual advertising revenue for the country’s publicly owned Channel 4 network.

Viacom, the American media company, attributed much of the double-digit growth in its cable television ad sales in recent years to the success of “Jersey Shore,” which ended a six-year run on MTV television in December.

Still, not everyone is convinced that Snooki in Space would fly.

“The idea of flying to Mars one-way is not as outlandish as it may appear,” said Robert Zubrin, former chairman of the United States National Space Society and a longtime advocate of a privately financed human mission to Mars. And he argues that it could be done with a budget “in the single-digit billions” of dollars.

“But I am very skeptical that it can be financed by broadcast revenues,” he said. “The initial mission could get great deal of attention. But how long could you sustain interest in a Martian ‘Little House on the Prairie’ at the level of revenues that would be required?”

Mr. Lansdorp winces a little at the reality-show label. “It’s a very difficult tradeoff between the goals of the project and to finance this mission,” he conceded. “This is not ‘Big Brother Goes to Mars.’ It’s important this is treated as a very serious project.”

It is for that reason, he said, that Mars One is focusing first on gaining credibility with prospective investors, sponsors and aerospace suppliers. Mr. Lansdorp declined to say how much he had budgeted for the initial publicity campaign, but experts like Mr. Zubrin estimate that it might take $30 million to $50 million.

Peter Meijer, chief operating officer of the Dutch unit of Trifork, a software developer based in Copenhagen, said his company — which is also supplying Web-host and network technology for Mars One — agreed to invest an undisclosed sum with the goal of raising its own profile through association with the mission.

“There are not many of these kind of projects around,” Mr. Meijer said. “For us, it is a chance to become attached to this not only from a technology perspective, but also to benefit from the marketing and branding exposure.”

He added: “It’s also a great conversation starter.”

Meanwhile, discussions are under way with prospective suppliers. Mars One says it held initial talks with about a half-dozen companies, including big industry players like SpaceX, for its heavy rocket launchers, and Thales of France, for its pressurized cargo vehicles.

Next week, Mr. Lansdorp said, he will announce Mars One’s first supplier contract, with a U.S. aerospace company.

Mr. Lansdorp is more pragmatic than wistful about why he does not plan himself to migrate to Mars.

“When I was 20 years old and I first started dreaming of this, I thought I would go myself. But in the 15 years that have passed since, I know a lot more about myself,” he said. “I am an entrepreneur. I am really not the right kind of person. I am impatient, and impatience is one of the worst character flaws for someone in a small group.”

Plus: “I have a really nice girlfriend and I know she would never come with me.”

Few such constraints would hold Junwei Cheng earthbound. Mr. Cheng, who has applied for the Mars mission, is a 26-year-old metals importer from Taiyuan, a city of four million people in northeast China. He admits that he is not much of a people person but says he is used to living in cramped surroundings. “Sometimes when I take the subway or the bus, I can’t even find space to put my feet,” he said.

And moving to another planet would not require a big personal sacrifice, Mr. Cheng added, “because I have not had a girlfriend for a while.”

Interview in New York Times


Sonntag, 10. März 2013 - 14:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ESA-Astronaut Luca Parmitano trainiert für EVA´s bei ISS-Expedition 36/37


ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano suiting up for EVA training

In this picture, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano is seen preparing for a simulated spacewalk and is wearing a training version of his Extravehicular Mobility Unit spacesuit. He is about to be submerged in the waters of the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Divers in the water will assist Luca and fellow spacewalker, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, in their rehearsal, which is intended to help prepare them for work on the outside of the International Space Station.

Luca will perform two spacewalks during his Volare mission, which starts May on the International Space Station.

As Expedition 36/37 flight engineer, Luca will conduct planned maintenance tasks, replace a camera mounted on Japan’s Kibo module and retrieve science payloads. One of his spacewalks will also prepare for the arrival of the Russia’sn Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MLM).

ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano during spacewalk training in ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany.


ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, from Italy, during EVA training at ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Centre, in Cologne, Germany, 2 September 2010.
This course teaches ESA astronauts basic Extravehicular Activity (EVA, or 'spacewalk') concepts and skills, such as tethering to the International Space Station, the use of special EVA tools, communicating with an EVA crewmate and with the control room and how to keep full situational awareness in a complex and challenging environment.


ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, from Italy, during EVA training at ESA's Neutral Buoyancy Facility at the European Astronaut Centre, in Cologne, Germany, 2 September 2010.
This course teaches ESA astronauts basic Extravehicular Activity (EVA, or 'spacewalk') concepts and skills, such as tethering to the International Space Station, the use of special EVA tools, communicating with an EVA crewmate and with the control room and how to keep full situational awareness in a complex and challenging environment.


Born in Paternò, Italy, on 27 September 1976. Married with two daughters. Parmitano is an active scuba diver and enjoys snowboarding, skydiving, weight training and swimming. Other interests include reading and music.


Parmitano graduated from the Liceo Scientifico Statale `Galileo Galilei´ in Catania, Italy, in 1995.

In 1999, he completed a bachelor's degree in political sciences at the University of Naples Federico II, Italy, with a thesis on international law. In 2000, he graduated from the Italian Air Force Academy, in Pozzuoli, Italy.

Parmitano completed basic training with the U.S. Air Force at the Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training in Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, US, in 2001. He completed the JCO/CAS course with the USAFE in Sembach, Germany, in 2002.

In 2003, he qualified as Electronic Warfare Officer at the ReSTOGE in Pratica di Mare, Italy. He completed the Tactical Leadership Programme in Florennes, Belgium, in 2005.

In July 2009, Parmitano completed a master’s degree in experimental flight test engineering at the Institute Superieure de l’Aeronautique et de l’Espace, in Toulouse, France.

Special honours

Awarded a Silver Medal to the Aeronautical Valour by the President of the Italian Republic in 2007.


Following completion of undergraduate pilot training in 2001, Parmitano flew the AM-X aircraft with the 13th Group, 32nd Wing in Amendola, Italy, from 2001 to 2007. During that time, he obtained all the qualifications on the aircraft, including Combat Ready, Four Ship Leader, Mission Commander/Package Leader.

Within the 13th Group he served as Chief of Training Section and Commander of the 76th Squadron. He was also the 32nd Wing Electronic Warfare Officer.

In 2007, he was selected by the Italian Air Force to become a test pilot. He trained as an Experimental Test Pilot at EPNER, the French test pilot school in Istres.

Parmitano is a major in the Italian Air Force. He has logged more than 2000 hours flying time, is qualified on more than 20 types of military airplanes and helicopters, and has flown over 40 types of aircraft.

Parmitano was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009.

In February 2011, Parmitano was assigned as a flight engineer to a long duration mission to the International Space Station which is planned for 2013.

Quelle: NASA / ESA


Sonntag, 10. März 2013 - 11:00 Uhr

Planet Erde - GOCE sieht Erdbeben aus dem All


Earthquake felt by GOCE


Satellites map changes in Earth’s surface caused by earthquakes but never before have sound waves from a quake been sensed directly in space – until now. ESA’s hyper-sensitive GOCE gravity satellite has added yet another first to its list of successes.

Earthquakes not only create seismic waves that travel through Earth’s interior, but large quakes also cause the surface of the planet to vibrate like a drum. This produces sound waves that travel upwards through the atmosphere.

The size of these waves changes from centimetres at the surface to kilometres in the thin atmosphere at altitudes of 200–300 km.

Only low-frequency sound – infrasound – reaches these heights. It causes vertical movements that expand and contract the atmosphere by accelerating air particles.

On Monday, Japan remembers the 20 000 people who died in the earthquake and tsunami that devastated its northeastern coast two years ago. New studies have revealed that this massive quake was also felt in space by ESA’s GOCE satellite.

Counteracting drag

Since it was launched in 2009, GOCE has been mapping Earth’s gravity with unrivalled precision, orbiting at the lowest altitude of any observation satellite. But at less than 270 km up, it has to cope with air drag as it cuts through the remnants of the atmosphere.

The cleverly designed satellite carries an innovative ion engine that instantly compensates for any drag by generating carefully calculated thrusts. These measurements are provided by very precise accelerometers.

While the measurements ensure that GOCE remains ultra-stable in its low orbit to collect ultra-precise measurements of Earth’s gravity, atmospheric density and vertical winds along its path can be inferred from the thruster and accelerometer data.

Exploiting GOCE data to the maximum, scientists from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France, the French space agency CNES, the Institute of Earth Physics of Paris and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, supported by ESA’s Earth Observation Support to Science Element, have been studying past measurements.

They discovered that GOCE detected sound waves from the massive earthquake that hit Japan on 11 March 2011.

When GOCE passed through these waves, its accelerometers sensed the vertical displacements of the surrounding atmosphere in a way similar to seismometers on the surface of Earth. Wave-like variations in air density were also observed.


When GOCE passed through these waves, its accelerometers sensed the vertical displacements of the surrounding atmosphere in a way similar to seismometers on the surface of Earth. Wave-like variations in air density were also observed.

Raphael Garcia from the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology said, “Seismologists are particularly excited by this discovery because they were virtually the only Earth scientists without a space-based instrument directly comparable to those deployed on the ground.

“With this new tool they can start to look up into space to understand what is going on under their feet.”

Quelle: ESA


Samstag, 9. März 2013 - 13:30 Uhr

Luftfahrt - USAF-F-35-Update


F-35A OUE events completed, success handed to AETC for review


 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- A major step in the building the Air Force's F-35A Lightning II training program was accomplished when the 33rd Fighter Wing completed the training and flying portion of the service's operational utility evaluation on schedule Nov. 15.

Four pilots began training when the evaluation started Sept. 10, expecting it to last approximately 65 days. Six weeks of academic training and 24 sorties later, they are all fully-qualified F-35A pilots.

"We were able to conduct the flying portion in less than half the time than we planned for because things went so well with the flying, weather was good, maintainers were doing a great job getting jets out on the line and instructors were doing a good job of teaching these guys," said Col. Andrew Toth, 33rd Fighter Wing commander.

From no experience to fully qualified joint strike fighter pilot was the hallmark of the success according to wing leaders and instructor pilots.

Lt. Col. Eric Smith, 58th Fighter Squadron director of operations and first Air Force F-35 instructor pilot, recalled leading one of four OUE students, Maj. Joseph Scholtz, during an Instrument qualification course Nov. 9.

"Four weeks before the first pilot qualified, he was an A-10 pilot at Nellis Air Force Base (Nev.) and hadn't been involved much in the F-35 program other than what he read in the news about what was going on," said Smith. "The 33rd Fighter Wing testament to all of the hard work that has been going on here the last three and a half years of standing this place up, getting ready to train pilots, was when we took him out today and he pretty much flew a flawless F-35 mission. It's also a testament to Lockheed Martin partners involved in helping the Nomads, the men and women of 33rd, build a training system down here, develop it and go out and execute it."

During the flying portion, students demonstrated their ability to take off into restricted airspace, train flying in formation while airborne, conduct instrument approaches at a neighboring military base and clear the traffic pattern to land at Eglin. Their "check ride" was an hour-long flight culminating in full qualification to fly the F-35.

"Maintainers have done a fantastic job of generating sorties," Smith said.

The OUE provided the setting to test the 135 trained maintainers in generating up to six flights a day utilizing nine F-35As.

"Maintenance really stepped up to the plate," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Burch. "They are learning the fifth generation way of maintenance quickly."

As they go along in their daily routine, maintainers find themselves rewriting joint technical data to pave the way for the future "play book" of maintaining F-35As alongside their contract logistics partners.

"Training conducted here at Eglin then enables the rest of the Air Force organizations to start standing up too, begin their training and test and evaluation piece - big steps in the F-35 program," said Toth.

Scholtz will give feedback, as others going through training do, before going back to his unit at Nellis, the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron where the joint strike fighter will arrive next year.

The other qualified F-35A pilots trained during the OUE were Lt. Col. Brian O'Neill of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and Majors Cougar Wilson and Scout Johnston from the 33rd FW.

"A great part of all of this is the fantastic job of all the services. The OUE was a great couple of weeks flying, and we couldn't ask for any more," said Toth. "We are ready for the Joint Operational Test Team to write their report, provide us a quick-look out brief then formally brief our command on what they thought of the training system here. Once we receive the Air Education and Training Command's approval stating we are 'Ready For Training,' we can begin our first class."

Smith and his team of instructors are ready to train six pilots early next year as soon as they get that notice.

"We'll receive the training system for the block 1B operational flight program, the suite of software in the jets," he said. "It'll be our first class in this configuration. We are calling it a small group tryout, a contractual thing to make sure courseware developed is up to standards. It will take two months."

After its first year of training, the wing expects to see "normalcy" in its program.

"Concurrency of testing and training in the Air Force F-35 program means basic training of operational test pilots will happen first at Eglin in the near term," said Toth. "The pilots will then follow-on to Nellis or Edwards to conduct testing on new F-35 systems and capabilities before the wing adapts them in the training environment, resulting in the growth of the program becoming much more normalized. Meanwhile, the game plan for other military services and international partners will continue. Eventually there will be 2,100 maintenance students and 100 U.S. military F-35 pilots a year."


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION, YUMA, Ariz., Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), joined today with other industry partners to celebrate and offer congratulations to the United States Marine Corps for the official stand-up and re-designation of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, the world's first operational squadron to fly the F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

During a ceremony today at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., representatives from Pratt & Whitney joined with esteemed aviation painter Keith Ferris, and his wife, Peggy, to present to the Marine Corps Ferris' painting "High Tide at Red Beach," which depicts the F-35B flying over the skies of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

"Hundreds of thousands of Marines have participated in amphibious landing and aviation training exercises at Red Beach on the Camp Pendleton complex, and many of them would instantly recognize that setting, which is wholly unique to the Marine Corps experience," said Ferris. "This painting captures the expeditionary and amphibious character of the Marine Corps, and the role of Marine Tactical Aviation in supporting the Marine on the ground. It was a delight to paint, and an even greater honor to present it to the Commandant of the Marine Corps on this historic occasion."

"This is yet another historic achievement for the F-35 program, and for the F-35B in particular," said Bennett Croswell, president, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines. "Just over a year ago, two F-35B aircraft accomplished their 'first ever' sea-based short take offs and vertical landings during trials aboard the USS Wasp, demonstrating to our STOVL customers the unique capabilities of the F135 STOVL propulsion system. Now we're celebrating another first for the program – the arrival of the first operational F-35B to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, and the beginning of a new fifth generation fighter era for the Green Knights of VMFA-121."

The F-35B, a short takeoff and vertical landing multi-role fighter, is slated to replace the Marine Corps' F/A-18 Hornet, AV-8B Harrier and EA-6B Prowler. The F-35B's propulsion system, powered by Pratt & Whitney's F135 engine and the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, allows the aircraft to operate from expeditionary airfields in remote, non-permissive environments with shorter runways, as well as amphibious vessels, contributing to the Marine Corps' role as the nation's expeditionary force-in-readiness.

The F-35 program includes three variants to meet the unique needs of the U.S. armed forces and the international participants in the program: the Conventional Take Off and Landing (CTOL), the Carrier Variant (CV), and the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL). To date, the F135 propulsion system has powered more than 358 vertical landings, 2,623 test flights producing more than 4,055 flight hours. Pratt & Whitney has delivered 41 CTOL/CV and 35 STOVL engines and related propulsion system hardware. The success of the F135 engine program validates the reliability, safety and performance of the engine.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines, space propulsion systems and industrial gas turbines. United Technologies, based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the global aerospace and building industries.

This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future business opportunities and operational engine performance. Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to changes in funding related to the F-35 aircraft and F135 engines, changes in government procurement priorities and practices or in the number of aircraft to be built; challenges in the design, development, production and support of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corp.'s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.


F-35B test aircraft BF-3, flown by Lt. Cmdr. Michael Burks, completed the first aerial weapons release of an inert 500-pound GBU-12 on Dec. 3, the first GBU-12 Paveway II Laser Guided Bomb release for any variant of the aircraft. BF-3 dropped the GBU-12 over the Atlantic Test Ranges from an internal weapons bay. The F-35B is the variant of the Lightning II designed for use by the U.S. Marine Corps, as well as F-35 international partners in the United Kingdom and Italy. The F-35B is capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings to enable air power projection from amphibious ships, ski-jump aircraft carriers and expeditionary airfields. The F-35B is undergoing flight test and evaluation at NAS Patuxent River, Md., prior to delivery to the fleet. (Photo courtesy of Lockheed Martin)


NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md., Jan. 22, 2013 - For the first time, two Lockheed Martin F-35C Lightning II carrier variant (CV) test aircraft refueled together with a Lockheed Martin KC-130 Hercules in the sky above Patuxent River, Md., recently. The CV aircraft, known as CF-1 and CF-2, completed the milestone as part of an F-35 flight test program that will accomplish more than 1,000 flights in 2013. Later this year, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., will receive its first CV aircraft joining the F-35 pilot and maintainer training program there. (Lockheed Martin photos by Andy Wolfe)

A four-ship of F-35A Lightning IIs returns to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after a sortie Feb. 1. Pilots with the 33rd Fighter Wing began flying the formation for the first time here last week. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Edward Schmitt)


 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Increasing capability is becoming routine for the F-35 Lightning II team.

The 58th Aircraft Maintenance Unit produced a four-turn-four for the 58th Fighter Squadron flying Jan 31.

"The pilots flew four F-35As in the morning and the maintainers performed routine maintenance for airworthiness after landing. Then the crew chiefs 'turned' them around so the four jets could be flown in the afternoon," said Col. Andrew Toth, the commander of the 33d Fighter Wing and one of the aviators in the formation.

That was the first F-35 four-turn-four at the wing. Following up the successful flights, the team did the same Feb. 1 with a four-turn-two. During the Jan. 31 training flights, the pilots were using their advanced radar systems to track F-16 "adversaries" over the Gulf of Mexico.

Additionally, the maintainers had spare F-35As ready to go in the event of any issues in flight proving their ability to prepare the Air Force's newest fighter jet for basic pilot training.

While turning jets and flying multiple aircraft in formation is standard operations at an established flying training unit, for the 33d Fighter Wing, it was another step forward to self-sufficiency. Subsequently, it boosted morale.

"It was good to pull that off last week knowing recent weather can cancel flights," said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Wheeler, the production superintendent with 58th AMU. "I can't control the weather...everything else I control. The jets took off without any issues, the pilots flew their scheduled times. They all landed safely and the aircraft downloaded correctly."

Unique to the JSF, the downloaded data is inputted into the autonomic logistics information system that tracks the health of the jet in a computer based diagnostics and logistics system.

Contracted logistic support by Lockheed Martin is steadily giving way to 58th AMU crew chiefs as the Airmen become more proficient in maintaining the F-35A. LM will continue to support other variants and international partners.


NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev., March 6, 2013 - A Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II lands at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., March 6, 2013. The aircraft will be assigned to the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron and the aircraft will be used for development test support, force development evaluation, and supporting operational test aircraft at Edwards AFB, Calif. The aircraft has a maximum speed of more than Mach 1.6. (U.S. Air Force photos by Airman 1st Class Christopher Tam and Airman 1st Class Jason Couillard)


FORT WORTH, Texas, March 7, 2013 - The second Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II for the Netherlands rolled out of the F-35 production facility on March 2. This is the latest step in the production process leading to its eventual assignment to Eglin AFB, Fla., later this summer. The Netherlands is planning to use this conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) jet, known as AN-2, for training and operational tests for pilots and maintainers. AN-2 will undergo functional fuel system checks before being transported to the flight line for ground and flight tests later this year. (Lockheed Martin photo by Tom Arobogast)


EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 7, 2013 - Two officers from the operational test community are among the six pilots in the first F-35 Lightning II pilot training course after an Air Education and Training Command decision to start training here in January.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron director of operations, is one of the students who flew their first sortie in March. He will transition his F-15E Strike Eagle warfighting skills to the F-35 before he returns to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., next month. (U.S. Air Force photos by Samuel King Jr.)


 EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Two officers from the operational test community are among the six pilots in the first F-35 Lightning II pilot training course after an Air Education and Training Command decision to start training here in January.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Bishop, the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron director of operations, is one of the students who flew their first sortie in March. He will transition his F-15E Strike Eagle warfighting skills to the F-35 before he returns to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., next month.

"It's exciting, an honor to be a part of the future of airpower," he said. "The aircraft performed as I expected. It's a different feel and a different aircraft to get used to but both are easy to fly. Like any new aircraft, it's a different system to learn and I'm getting used to the basic maneuvers."

According to Nellis, jets began arriving the day their pilots flew their first sorties at Eglin. The 422nd TES will add the F-35A to its list of aircraft they execute command-directed operational test and evaluation for like the A/OA-10, F-15C, F-15E, F-16CM and F-22A hardware, software, and weapons upgrades prior to combat Air Force release. The squadron conducts tactics development, foreign materiel exploitation and special access programs to optimize system combat capability.

"We will develop the tactics, techniques and procedures for the F-35 and how it fits in the bigger airpower picture for the U.S.," said Bishop about the work ahead of him after graduating here leading OT for the fifth generation aircraft.

Capt. Brad Matherne is the other 422nd TES student transitioning to the joint strike fighter and he will return to Nellis to lead the new F-35 division. The structure in their organization has a division for the five other aircraft.

Like other students at the F-35 pilot training course in the 33rd Fighter Wing's Academic Training Center, Bishop began his temporary duty here with an orientation to the world of the joint strike fighter and custom fitting for the high-tech helmet.

"I feel like I'm back," Bishop said during his first week at Eglin. "It's a smooth transition."

He had been temporarily stationed here before with the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at the 53rd Wing.

"The academics section focused on the basic system of the aircraft and how it works - the hydraulics, electrical systems and avionics," said Bishop who had no exposure to the syllabus before coming to Eglin.

The first half of F-35 pilot training courses remain in the classroom and virtual environment at the ATC until the pilots are ready to step to the aircraft for the first time. On the flightline, they are required to taxi the aircraft and fly six sorties before completing their training. Combined in-class and in-air time is approximately three months.

Bishop's classmates, who are stationed at the 33rd FW, have been a part of the team building up the F-35 integrated training center and inevitably had more exposure to the syllabus before the first official class started.

"The simulators are our real success story," said Lt. Col. William Betts, 33rd Operations Support Squadron commander who has been on the initial cadre team since 2009. "It's refreshing to hear others say it is just like flying the F-35 (once they complete the first flight)."

Bishop echoed the same high fidelity of the full mission simulator here and said there is no comparison, especially when remembering his experience learning to fly the Strike Eagle.

"During my basic training in the F-15E back in 2000, the simulator was like a black and white T.V. screen hooked up to a cockpit," he said. "It shows how far we've come in (pilot) training. It's humbling for me to be around this world class environment."

When Bishop returns to Nellis, he will hone those flight hours as a student and develop a plan for his squadron to begin demonstrating the F-35's combat capabilities as software becomes available.

ACC's OT community has already paved the way for Bishop's team by standing up a unit at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where developmental test of the aircraft continues concurrently in the joint strike fighter program. He was able to greet three pilots from that unit in the ATC halls as they arrived in March to be a part of the second class. This pace should continue for the 33rd FW throughout 2013 with an estimate of 36 pilots graduating the course by the end of year.

ACC was able to get in on the Air Force's acquisition life cycle early to build their expertise with the aircraft by sending operational test pilots through the first few courses at Eglin. As the Air Force's declaration authority for F-35A Initial Operational Capability, the command will make a decision based on achieving sufficient levels of readiness in both capability and capacity.

Specific criteria established by the commander of ACC include the ability to conduct basic close air support, interdiction, and suppression/destruction of enemy air defense missions, with the targeting, payload, and other performance characteristics that entails.

There is currently no specific timeframe identified for anticipated IOC.

In July 2011, an Air Force Record of Decision proposed basing 36 F-35 fighter aircraft at Nellis between 2012 and 2020; 12 jets for operational testing /force development evaluation, 24 for weapon school training. Flight activities will occur at the base and the Nevada Test and Training Range.

The 422nd is a geographically separated unit of the 53rd Wing, headquartered here.


FORT WORTH, Texas, March 8, 2013 - The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II with a Center Wing Assembly (CWA) built at the Lockheed Martin facility in Marietta, Ga., was flown for the first time this week. The aircraft, known as BF-25, is an F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant that will be delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps at Yuma, Ariz. The CWA is a major structural component and represents approximately one quarter of the aircraft’s fuselage. Approximately 350 people work on the F-35 program in Marietta. In addition to building the CWAs, technicians also apply specialized stealth coatings to F-35 horizontal and vertical tail control assemblies and also coat spare and repaired aircraft doors, panels and covers. (Lockheed Martin photo by Angel DelCueto)


Samstag, 9. März 2013 - 09:16 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Satelliten-Crash im Orbit


On Jan. 22, 2013, debris from a Chinese anti-satellite program test hit a Russian satellite.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Analytical Graphics, Inc.


A small Russian spacecraft in orbit appears to have been struck by Chinese space junk from a 2007 anti-satellite test, likely damaging the Russian craft, possibly severely, has learned.

The space collision appears to have occurred on Jan. 22, when a chunk of China's Fengyun 1C satellite, which was intentionally destroyed by that country in a 2007 anti-satellite demonstration, struck the Russian spacecraft, according to an analysis by the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

CSSI technical program manager T.S. Kelso reported that the collision involved the Chinese space junk and Russia's small Ball Lens In The Space (BLITS) retroreflector satellite, a 17-pound (7.5 kilograms). The Fengyun 1C satellite debris was created during China's anti-satellite test on Jan. 11, 2007, and has posed a threat to satellites and crewed spacecraft ever since.

2007:The flotsam created by China's anti-satellite test last month is on the radar screens of space debris analysts, as well as space policy experts.

The intentional destruction on Jan. 11 of China's Fengyun-1C weather satellite via an anti-satellite (ASAT) device launched by the Chinese has created a mess of fragments fluttering through space.

The satellite's destruction is now being viewed as the most prolific and severe fragmentation in the course of five decades of space operations.



A recently issued report by the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense has cast an eye on China's growing space capability.

The annual report -- The Military Power of the People's Republic of China 2005 - flatly claims that China is developing and intends to field anti-satellite (ASAT) systems.

In assessing China's overall military prowess, the U.S. Defense report stresses that China is "facing a strategic crossroads." Noting that China's emergence has significant implications for the region and the world, the Defense Department assessment stresses that "questions remain" about choices that China's leaders will make regarding its military might as that country's power and influence grow.

Expanding launch vehicle industry

The Secretary of Defense report to Congress was issued July 19, and is a yearly effort that delves into the current and future military strategy of the People's Republic of China.

The report's intent is to address "the current and probable future course of military-technological development on the People's Liberation Army and the tenets and probable development of Chinese grand strategy, security strategy, and military strategy, and of the military organizations and operational concepts, through the next 20 years."

Within the report's pages, a number of items are flagged specific to China's space capabilities.

The document points out that China's space launch vehicle industry is expanding to support the national emphasis on satellite launch capability and its human spaceflight program.

Credible ASAT capability?

In the arena of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons, China is making headway, the report claims.

"China is working on, and plans to field, ASAT systems. Beijing has and will continue to enhance its satellite tracking and identification network - the first step in establishing a credible ASAT capability. China can currently destroy or disable satellites only by launching a ballistic missile or space-launch vehicle armed with a nuclear weapon. However, there are many risks associated with this method, and consequences from use of nuclear weapons," the report says.

China is also conducting research to develop ground-based laser ASAT weapons.

The report cites the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency as believing that Beijing "eventually could develop a laser weapon capable of damaging or destroying satellites."

Given this technology -- at lower power thresholds - "Chinese researchers may believe that low-energy lasers can 'blind' sensors on low-Earth-orbiting satellites," the report suggests, but whether Beijing has tested such a capability is unclear.

No evidence to back up claims

Jeffrey Lewis, a Research Fellow at the Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy in College Park, Maryland, is skeptical of some of the Pentagon's assertions.

The important point to ask, according to Lewis, is how does this report compare to previous years?

"In general, the 2005 edition is much more detailed than previous reports. But not when it comes to Chinese ASAT capabilities," Lewis told "Although the 2005 edition does flatly state--as have previous reports--that China intends to field ASAT systems, the 2005 edition omits most of the evidence cited in previous reports, including discredited claims about the development of a parasite microsatellite and a ground-based direct ascent ASAT that was supposed to be fielded as early as this year."

Lewis said that, although the U.S. Department of Defense is still willing to assert that China intends to deploy ASATs, "it's pretty clear they don't have any evidence to back that up."

Modernization efforts

In a section on China's "Space and Counterspace" activities, the report contends that Beijing has focused on building the infrastructure to develop advanced space-based command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) and targeting capabilities.

"Building a modern ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance] architecture is likely one of the primary drivers behind Beijing's space endeavors and a critical component of its overall C4ISR modernization efforts," the report states.

Beijing's ongoing space-based programs with potential military applications include its manned spacecraft activities. The U.S. Secretary of Defense assessment notes that China launched its first manned spacecraft into Earth orbit on October 15, 2003. Furthermore, Chinese press reports indicate that it will send up a two-person crew on a five-day mission in September of this year.

Possible military applications

Other space-based programs with possible military applications are also discussed in the report:

  • China has two remote-sensing satellite programs known as Ziyuan-1 (ZY-1), also known as the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite, and ZY-2. China launched the ZY-1B in October 2003. A third ZY-2 satellite was launched in October 2004. ZY-2 payloads probably are digital imagery reconnaissance satellites and have worldwide coverage. Beijing also tested new film-based imagery satellites and small digital imagery satellites in 2003 and 2004.
  • China is interested in electronic intelligence (ELINT) or signals intelligence (SIGINT) reconnaissance satellites. Although these digital data systems probably will be able to transmit directly to ground sites, China may be developing a system of data relay satellites to support global coverage. Furthermore, Beijing has acquired mobile data reception equipment that could support more rapid data transmission to deployed military forces and units.
  • China is studying and seeking foreign assistance on small satellites. It has launched a number of them, including an oceanographic research satellite, Haiyang (HY)-1, in 2002 with at least two more satellites in this series, HY-2 and -3, expected. Beijing launched four small satellites during 2004; two of these probably have imagery missions and the other two possibly are conducting space environmental research. Other missions for satellites of this class include Earth observation, communications, and navigation.
  • China is developing microsatellites - weighing less than 220 pounds (100 kilograms) - for remote sensing and networks of electro-optical and radar satellites. In April 2004 Beijing launched a microsatellite with a probable imagery mission. A joint venture between China's Tsinghua University and the United Kingdom's University of Surrey is building a constellation of seven mini-satellites.

The U.S. Department of Defense report also scopes out various trends in space modernization, including the goal of rapid launch satellites. "With ever-better satellites, China is becoming a peer in quality to the world's leading producers," the report says.

Space walks and space stations

In human spaceflight, after China's two-person mission scheduled for this fall, the report explains that China hopes to conduct space walks and docking missions with a space lab by 2010, followed by a full space station by 2020.

The report observes that in 2004, China placed 10 satellites into orbit, the most of any year, and has a similar schedule through 2006. "It hopes to have more than 100 satellites in orbit by 2010, and launch an additional 100 satellites by 2020."

In the next decade, the report continues, Beijing most likely will field radar, ocean surveillance, and improved film-based photo-reconnaissance satellites. "China will eventually deploy advanced imagery, reconnaissance, and Earth resource systems with military applications."

In the interim, the report adds, China probably will supplement existing coverage with commercial SPOT (France), LANDSAT (U.S.), RADARSAT (Canada), Ikonos (U.S.), and Russian satellite imagery systems.

China: beyond any crossroads

John Tkacik, Jr., a Senior Research Fellow in China Policy in the Asian Studies Center at The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C. conservative think tank advised that the Pentagon report deserves a careful reading.

Doing so would leave a reader with no doubt that China's "ambitious" weapons modernization and doctrinal reforms are aimed at promoting vast increases in its "comprehensive national power."

The compendium of Pentagon facts in the new report describe a China already well past any "crossroads" he stresses in a July 25 press statement from the group.

Tkacik notes that China's next steps--disputing the Pentagon's view--is, in his opinion, not hard to forecast. He suggests that the report's view of "current trends" indicate China has already chosen a pathway along which China would emerge to exert dominant influence in an expanding sphere.






Samstag, 9. März 2013 - 08:57 Uhr

Mars-Chroniken - Verschütteter Mars Fluss-Kanal zeigt Nachweis auf relativ junge Megaflut


Analysis of radar data hints that Mars may still be geologically active.

The Marte Vallis channel system (white area, center) on Mars.


Evidence of a megaflood on Mars—a surprisingly recent one that cut a 600-mile (966-kilometer) river channel into the planet—has been detected by radar from an orbiting satellite.

Scientists have known for some time about the existence of the Marte Vallis channel system. But the new radar research has doubled the estimated depth of the massive flow and identified the headwaters and floodplain of the river. Both had been covered by lava from a volcanic eruption no more than 500 million years ago.

The megaflood and volcano are considered especially significant because they occurred so recently, in geological terms, suggesting that Mars may well remain a geologically active planet today. (Learn about Martian geology.)

Before a new picture of Mars began to emerge over the past decade, the planet was considered to have been cold, dry, and largely geologically dead for more than three billion years.

"What we've found is that the source of this megaflood was water deep underground that was delivered to the surface through tectonic fractures," said Gareth Morgan of the Smithsonian Institution's Air and Space Museum, one of several authors of the article appearing today in the journal Science.

"The source of the water, and the size of the outflow, had been something of a mystery, but the radar allowed us to look below the lava flows and see what existed there before," he said.

Earthly Analogue

Morgan likened the scale of the Marte Vallis flood to that of the Missoula outpourings of some 15,000 years ago in the Pacific Northwest. After the breaking of an ice dam at glacial Lake Missoula, the water surged westward and flooded large areas of what is now Washington and Oregon. These events would have drained the 200-mile-long (322-kilometer-long) lake in 48 hours.

In both the Missoula floods (which occurred numerous times) and the Marte Vallis megafloods (which appears to have occurred far less frequently), the power of the water dug deep channels into the hardened lava, or basalt.

The paper, which has co-authors from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as the Southwest Research Institute, is based on years of analyzing data from the Shallow Radar (SHARAD) onboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The radar has been used extensively to investigate the Martian poles, and only more recently have investigators focused on areas such as the equatorial Elysium Planitia, the site of Marte Vallis.

These deep river channels on Mars were formed roughly 3.7 to 3.1 billion years ago.  Estimated to run for 600 miles (966 kilometers) or more, these channels are some 60 miles (97 kilometers) wide.

By analyzing the characteristics of the channel, the team concluded that the water flow was 262 feet (80 meters) or deeper, rather than the earlier depth estimate of 131 feet (40 meters).

Watery Revolution

The new finding is part of a recent revolution in water discoveries on Mars. Not only have researchers identified deep river channels, but they've discovered gullies of liquid water that are still forming and streams of salty water that appear to flow down some crater walls during the Martian summer. (Related: "Water on Mars: Exploration and Evidence.")

Following in the tracks of its smaller predecessors, the Mars rover Curiosity has also been searching for signs that surface water used to be present on the planet. It has already identified what scientists say was a river or streambed that once tumbled into Gale Crater. (Related: "Mars Rover Finds Ancient Streambed-Proof of Flowing Water.")

By examining the makeup of some of the rock formations and the many rounded pebbles nearby, the Curiosity team concluded that a fast-flowing stream once came off the crater rim and ran to the area near the rover's landing site. Unlike the megafloods, these smaller rivers or streams are believed to have run for thousands or millions of years, rather than days or months.

"Mars is certainly very cold and dry today, but even now it remains dynamic and certainly is not dead," Morgan said. "There are huge reservoirs of ice beneath the surface and we don't really know much about its relationship with the surface."

But the Marte Vallis finding makes clear that water from deep in the planet can and has surged to the surface through rock fractures in the relatively recent past, he said. And it is within the realm of possibility that something similar could set off another megaflood in the future.

Quelle: National Geographic


Freitag, 8. März 2013 - 14:45 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Im Focus von Cassini


Morning Star
Dawn on Saturn is greeted across the vastness of interplanetary space by the morning star, Venus, in this image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft. Venus appears just off the edge of the planet, in the upper part of the image, directly above the white streak of Saturn's G ring. Lower down, Saturn's E ring makes an appearance, looking blue thanks to the scattering properties of the dust that comprises the ring. A bright spot near the E ring is a distant star. 
Venus is, along with Mercury, Earth, and Mars, one of the rocky "terrestrial" planets in the solar system that orbit relatively close to the sun. Though Venus has an atmosphere of carbon dioxide that reaches nearly 900 degrees Fahrenheit (500 degrees Celsius) and a surface pressure 100 times that of Earth's, it is considered a twin to our planet because of their similar size, mass, rocky composition and orbit. Venus is covered in thick sulfuric acid clouds, making it very bright. 
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 21 degrees below the ring plane. 
Images taken using red, green and blue spectral filters were combined to create this natural color view. The images were obtained with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Jan. 4, 2013, at a distance of approximately 371,000 miles (597,000 kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 20 miles (32 kilometers) per pixel. 
NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be swooping close to Saturn's moon Rhea on Saturday, March 9, the last close flyby of Rhea in Cassini's mission. The primary purpose will be to probe the internal structure of the moon by measuring the gravitational pull of Rhea against the spacecraft's steady radio link to NASA's Deep Space Network here on Earth. The results will help scientists understand whether the moon is homogeneous all the way through or whether it has differentiated into the layers of core, mantle and crust.
In addition, Cassini's imaging cameras will take ultraviolet, infrared and visible-light data from Rhea's surface. The cosmic dust analyzer will try to detect any dusty debris flying off the surface from tiny meteoroid bombardments to further scientists' understanding of the rate at which "foreign" objects are raining into the Saturn system.
Cassini will fly within about 600 miles (1,000 kilometers) of the surface. The time of closest approach is around 10:17 a.m. PST (1:17 p.m. EST). This is Cassini's fourth close flyby of Rhea.
On Feb. 10, 2015, Cassini will pass Rhea at about 29,000 miles (47,000 kilometers), but this is not considered a targeted flyby. Cassini has been in orbit around Saturn since 2004 and is in a second mission extension, known as the Solstice mission.
Bombarded Rhea
Cassini looks over the heavily cratered surface of Rhea during the spacecraft's flyby of the moon on March 10, 2012. 
See PIA08909 and PIA06553 to learn more about the impacts that have shaped the surface of Rhea (949 miles, or 1,528 kilometers across). This view is centered on terrain at 58 degrees north latitude, 84 degrees west longitude on Rhea. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 27,000 miles (43,000 kilometers) from Rhea and at a Sun-Rhea-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 67 degrees. Image scale is 827 feet (252 meters) per pixel. 
Quelle: NASA


Freitag, 8. März 2013 - 12:05 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Himmelsphänomene über Russland - Teil-6


Noch spektakulärer sehen solche Himmelsphänomene vom Flugzeug aus, wie es zum Beispiel Lufthansa-Piloten aufnehmen konnten und CENAP zur Verfügung stellten:





Weitere Aufnahmen von Raketen-Starts und deren spektakulären Anblick:



Aufnahme von Progress-Start im Jahre 2010, welcher aufzeigt wie sich über die Jahrzehnte die Raketen-Starteffekte nicht groß verändern und weiterhin für spektakuläre Himmelsphänomene nicht nur über Russland sorgen werden.

Tags: Petrozawodsk Woronesch 


Freitag, 8. März 2013 - 12:04 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Himmelsphänomene über Russland - Teil-5


Weitere spektakuläre Himmelsphänomene wurden auch hier in Deutschland von Astronomen wahrgenommen wie "der Engel von Salzburg" im Jahre 1994 welcher auf Resttreibstoff in der Erdatmosphäre zurückging und über Europa zu sehen war:


Himmelsphänomene werden jedoch nicht nur von Raketen-Starts sondern auch bei Re-Entrys verursacht:


Über das Mannheimer Planetarium bekam CENAP Video-Aufnahmen aus dem Jahre 2003, welche an uns weitergeleitet wurden vom Planetarium in Omsk, welche sehr schön die Start-Effekte am Himmel über Russland zeigen:

Tags: Petrozawodsk Woronesch 


Freitag, 8. März 2013 - 12:03 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Himmelsphänomene über Russland - Teil-4


Bei den Veröffentlichungen über Woronesch wurde als Zugabe Aufnahmen eines weiteren Himmelsphänomens über Moskau aus dem Jahre 1981 bekannt:




Dieses Himmelsphänomen wurde ausgelöst durch den Start in der Nacht vom 14/15 Mai von Sojus-40 welche zwei Kosmonauten zur Saljut-6-Station brachte.


Interessante Informationen über die Himmelsphänomene welche auch in den Nachbarländern von Russland gesehen wurden/werden, finden sich in nachfolgender Dokumentation von Helion:


Tags: Petrozawodsk Woronesch 


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