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Posts Tagged ‘Vehicles’

Iran to take US to international court over intercepted spy drone

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 6, 2012

US-TECHNOLOGY-UNMANNED SYSTEMS DEMO-SCANEAGLEIran has threatened international legal action against Washington over its alleged interception of a US spy drone. Tehran claims it has evidence of illegal spying on Iran’s nuclear program to present to an international court.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Tuesday that Tehran now has proof of the presence of US spy drones over Iranian territory.

“We had formally protested such actions by the US and had announced that we would defend our borders by any means possible,” Salehi told national media. International law forbids the violation of national borders, which Tehran had warned the US against before, “but unfortunately they did not comply,” he said.

“We will use this drone as evidence to pursue a legal case against the US invasion at relevant international bodies,”the Iranian FM said.

In a video broadcast on Iran’s Press TV on December 4, a US ScanEagle drone recently intercepted over the Persian Gulf by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was not visibly damaged. If the drone was manufactured by Boeing subsidiary Insitu, the lack of damage indicates it was not shot down, but was ‘hooked’ intact and brought to the ground.

IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, who made the official announcement on the drone’s capture, did not specify the exact date it had been intercepted.

One year ago, Tehran was reluctant to go to an international court when Iranian electronic warfare specialists managed to take control of the top-secret US RQ-170 ‘Sentinel’ stealth drone on a mission above the northeastern Iranian city Kashmar. The Sentinel was hacked and forced to land on an Iranian airfield, and then captured intact on December 4, 2011. Read the rest of this entry »

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NASA seeing red: $2.5 billion Mars rover to dig for proof of life

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

An artist's conception of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. (AFP Photo / NASA)

An artist’s conception of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover. (AFP Photo / NASA)

NASA’s make-or-break Mars mission has entered its landing phase on Monday morning. While the Curiosity rover attempts to land using a never-attempted sky crane, engineers back on Earth have no control over the pre-programmed sequence.

The touchdown is scheduled for 5:31 GMT.

NASA engineers will have to wait at least 14 minutes before learning the fate of Curiosity. That is if the Odyssey orbiter circling Mars is at the right spot in the sky to catch the rover’s signal. If not, it could take up to eight hours to get the final answer on the rover’s fate.

The $2.5 billion Mars Science Laboratory “could arguably be the most important event in the history of planetary exploration,” said Doug McCuistion, director of Mars exploration at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

The trickiest part of the mission, currently on its 8 months since launching in 2011, is the landing. Not only does it involve delivering the NASA’s largest-ever one-ton payload safely to the Martian surface, it will also attempt a new kind of landing sequence involving a guided entry, a supersonic 16-meter parachute, firing eight rocket thrusters during the descent and, finally, the sky crane.

Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Lead Flight Director David Oh speaks to members of the media in the Mission Control room ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)
Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Lead Flight Director David Oh speaks to members of the media in the Mission Control room ahead of the landing of the Mars rover Curiosity. (AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

A crane hovering some seven meters in the sky after touchdown will lower Curiosity to the surface of Mars. The approach was chosen over a traditional lander or inflatable cushioning due to the size of the rover. The sky crane trick avoids risks like tilting the platform, or mechanical damage from the clouds of dust and debris kicked up by rocket engines. But the sky crane technology couldn’t be fully field-tested on Earth, since it was designed for the atmosphere and gravity of Mars. Read the rest of this entry »

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China’s Shenzhou-9 crew returns to Earth

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 29, 2012

Shenzhou

The capsule carrying the crew of China’s Shenzhou-9 spacecraft has successfully landed in the country’s Inner Mongolia region after 13 days in space. The success of the mission brings China a step closer to creating its own manned space station.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sky-high and abyss-deep: China’s double record-breaker

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 25, 2012

Docking in progress, CCTV video still.

Docking in progress, CCTV video still.

China has reached two technological milestones spanning great depths and heights. In the earth’s orbit, the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft manually docked a space module while under the Pacific, a Jiaolong sub dived to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The symbolism behind the scheduling of the two historical events was far from coincidental. The three oceanographers manning the submersible during the 7,000 dive sent greetings to their three fellow “taikonauts” piloting the space capsule, wishing them luck in their mission.

The descent to a depth of 7,015 meters broke the Chinese national diving record. It was the fourth such dive in the mission, which started on June 15. The dive was conducted in heavy rain, according to a Xinhua report.

The space mission was also successful, with the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft undocking and again docking the Tiangong 1 module. For the first time, the procedure was performed manually rather than directed from the mission control center on the ground.

China became the third nation after Russia and the US to master the technology, which is crucial for the nation’s ambitious space program. The country wants to have a domestically-made manned space station operating by 2020.

The docking was the key part of the space mission. China launched the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, which carried the country’s first female astronaut, last Saturday. The mission will now continue for four more days. Read the rest of this entry »

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Russia’s moon re-conquest plan revealed (PHOTOS)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 8, 2012

AFP Photo / NASA / Lauren Harnett / Handout

AFP Photo / NASA / Lauren Harnett / Handout

Russian scientists want to send two lunar rovers and several landing stations after 2020 as part of the country’s return to the moon. The planned study of polar regions is aimed at eventually creating a permanent manned base there.

The attention was drawn to moon’s poles by the discovery of ice there, reports RIA Novosti, citing a draft space research roadmap prepared by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The first stage of the new lunar program will begin in 2015, with the launch of Luna-Resurs and Luna-Glob probes. Both are similar in design and will study south and north poles of the moon respectively.

The missions include landing a station with a small lunar rover equipped for taking soil samples from the depth of up to two meters. The samples will be examined on site.

After 2020 a new stage is scheduled with two bigger rovers planned for delivery. Their missions may last as long as five years, with rovers scouting the area as far as 30 km far from their landing spots. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cyber war leads to capture of CIA spy in Iran

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 19, 2011

A grab taken from a video aired by the official Iranian state TV on December 18, 2011 shows one of several photos of a young man alleged to be a captured CIA spy of Iranian origin confessing to a "mission" to infiltrate the intelligence ministry, wearing a traditional Arab garb (AFP Photo)

The budding cyber war between America and Iran could be quickly transcending off of computer networks and into the real world, with the US allegedly putting boots on the ground. Iranian state television is reporting that they’ve captured a CIA spy.

Overseas media reported over the weekend that Amir Mirza Hekmati, a 20-something American man of Iranian heritage, was abducted by Iranian forces, to whom he confessed that he has been in cahoots with the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to a taped confession offered up by Hekmati, the spy was apprehended by Iranian intelligence after being dispatched into the country from a US base in neighboring Afghanistan. The spy says he had been working out of Bagram near the country’s border with Iran in preparation for a CIA-led mission that has been years in the making, but despite assurance from American authorities that his cover would not be blown, Iranian intelligence intercepted him and is now holding him captive.

As RT reported last week, Israeli news agency Debka is suggesting that Iranian intelligence has managed to not just crack into the computer networks of at least one American spy drone but also CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia outside of Washington DC. Following the downing of a top-secret RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone aircraft over Iran earlier this month, military officials speaking under condition of anonymity to Debka say that such a take-down could only have been conducted by infiltrating the command center inside the actual CIA compound.

Insiders suggest that it would take the exact coordinates and times of the dispatched drone for Iranian intelligence to hijack the craft, which went down on December 4. With Hekmati now being apprehended after a decade of briefing by way of the Department of Defense, it only further establishes that Iran has indeed infiltrated the American intelligence community, causing concern for all involved that the cyber war between nations is quickly escalating to a battle involving not just robotic planes but soldiers, spies and international, undercover attacks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stalin buses may appear on Russian streets

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 25, 2011

Buses bearing portraits of Joseph Stalin may appear in several Russian cities as the country prepares to celebrate the

A commuter bus with a portrait of Joseph Stalin in St. Petersburg (RIA Novosti / Rostislav Koshelov)

66th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany on May 9.

The decision has been met with controversy by a society that remains deeply split over the role of the Soviet general secretary in the fate of the state.

Meanwhile, Mosgortrans, a company operating transport in the capital, told Echo of Moscow radio station that they have nothing to do with the idea and there will be no Stalin portraits on their vehicles.

Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Presidential Council on Human Rights called the project a provocation, saying that it would only cause anger among the population. “We should not create yet another source of disagreements within the community. I am against such things,” he is cited as saying. Fedotov believes that federal authorities, such as Antimonopoly service should intervene in the situation. “Stalin is neither a product, nor a producer. Therefore it is purely a political advert, which is against the law,” he said.

The majority of the population considers Stalin a bloody dictator whose mass political repressions in 1930s claimed millions of innocent people and turned the lives of others into a nightmare. However, many still believe that Stalin was not that evil and Russia owes its industrial development to him and praise him for the victory in WWII. Read the rest of this entry »

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