Monday, August 13, 2007

Robot Surge, SeaHawk '07, NGA +China Space War

Unmanned "Surge": 3000 More Robots for War

U.S. military robots ran 30,000 missions in 2006 -- hunting for, and getting rid of, improvised explosives. Now, the military has launched a crash project to radically increase its unmanned ground forces. Call it the robotic equivalent of the "surge."
The first batch of 'bots is due September 24, Defense News' Kris Osborn reports. 1000 machines are supposed to be enlisted by the end of the year, with two thousand more in five years.

Word of the robot recruitment comes just weeks after the military revealed it had deployed armed robots to Iraq.
In contrast, these smallish robots, weighing fifty pounds or less, will be used mostly for reconnaissance duty -- looking out for insurgents, and their bombs. A government solicitation to robot-makers asks for a machine that can both "look into the window of a vehicle" and peek "under a vehicle undercarriage."
That July 17 solicitation kicked off a break-neck competition to award the bot-building contract. "The victor will be crowned Sept. 14 with a contract for 101 robots. The first must be delivered within 10 days," says Defense News

"Seahawk 2007"

Maritime security exercise begins

SAN DIEGO – A two-week maritime security exercise involving more than 900 U.S. Navy and Coast Guard personnel will begin Monday on San Diego Bay, according to the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command.
The exercise, called "Seahawk 2007," is intended to enhance interoperability between the Navy and Coast Guard and improve capabilities along inshore areas, according to the Navy.

U.S. Admiral: No Russians Near War Games,4670,GuamWarGames,00.html

DigitalGlobe Announces Launch Date for WorldView-1 (update)

Satellite Delivered to Vandenberg Air Force Base
LONGMONT and BOULDER, Colo. and WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Aug. 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp., ITT Corporation and DigitalGlobe, the provider of the world's highest-resolution imagery and geospatial information products, today announced delivery of its WorldView-1 satellite to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for its scheduled launch on Tuesday, September 18, 2007. WorldView-1 is the first of two new next-generation satellites DigitalGlobe plans to launch.

Upon launch on September 18, WorldView-1 will undergo a calibration and check out period and will deliver imagery soon after. First imagery from WorldView-1 is expected to be available prior to October 18, the sixth anniversary of the launch of QuickBird, DigitalGlobe's current satellite. WorldView-1 will have an average revisit time of 1.7 days and will be capable of collecting up to 750,000 square kilometers (290,000 square miles) per day of half-meter imagery. The satellite will also be equipped with state-of-the- art geo-location accuracy capabilities and will exhibit stunning agility with rapid targeting and efficient in-track stereo collection.
"This is a momentous milestone that brings us one step closer to the launch of our next-generation satellite system," said Jill Smith, CEO of DigitalGlobe. "The addition of WorldView-1 and WorldView-2 in the coming months will bring the total number of satellites DigitalGlobe has in orbit to three, completing a constellation of spacecraft that will offer the highest collection capacity, more than 1 million square kilometers per day."
WorldView-1 is part of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA)'s NextView program. The NextView program is designed to ensure that the NGA has access to commercial imagery in support of its mission to provide timely, relevant and accurate geospatial intelligence in support of national security. The majority of the imagery captured by WorldView-1 for the NGA will also be available for sale through DigitalGlobe's archive. Additionally, the launch of WorldView-1 immediately frees up capacity on DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite to meet the growing commercial demand for multi-spectral geospatial imagery

Chinese intentions and American preparedness

The AST test that destroyed a Chinese weather satellite is considered an "enigma" by some, but open source literature offers a glimpse into Chinese military space planning. (credit: CNSA)

by Christopher StoneMonday, August 13, 2007
"All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack , we must seem unable: when using our forces, we must seem inactive: when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Holdout baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder and crush him."– Sun Tzu
On January 11, 2007 the Chinese launched a missile from a mobile transporter-erector launcher (TEL) armed with a kinetic kill vehicle and destroyed the Fengyun-1C weather satellite. This satellite was orbiting the earth in a low, polar orbit. This missile was launched with no advanced warning from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and they didn’t respond to the test until much later. According to Air Force Space Command, 700 spacecraft in low Earth orbit are now at risk due to the debris cloud created. I would say in addition to the debris cloud, all of our satellites and manned spacecraft, within range of these weapons, are endangered and the Chinese ASAT interceptor program should be taken seriously (cont..)

Biosurveillance, Intelligence and Bugs

The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has decided to investigate the creation of the National Biosurveillance Integration System at the Department of Homeland Security.
The operation was mandated by Homeland Security Presidential Directive 10. Its mission is to "to provide early detection and situational awareness of biological events of potential national consequence by acquiring, integrating, analyzing, and disseminating existing human, animal, plant, and environmental biosurveillance system data into a common operating picture," according to the DHS.
The idea for the biosurveillance shop was apparently proposed in a study by Science Applications International Corp. When DHS decided to follow up and outsource the operation, SAIC won the contract. In an Aug. 7 letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the committee seems quite focused on the procurement angle. Among other things, it asks for details about the request for proposal, the companies that responded and the process used to selected SAIC.

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