US Navy’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System launches first fighter jet

via Engadget by Donald Melanson on 12/21/10

For more than 50 years, the on-ramp to the highway to the danger zone was a steam catapult that launched fighter jets from an aircraft carrier, but it looks like that could soon be set to change. The U.S. Navy just announced yesterday that its Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, or EMALS, has passed a key test by launching a manned F/A-18E Super Hornet for the first time (several more successful launches then followed). Among other advantages, that system promises to allow the Navy to launch a wider range of aircraft from a carrier — including everything from lightweight unmanned aircraft to heavy strike fighters — and do so while also bringing “substantial improvements” to weight, maintenance, and efficiency. Head on past the break for the official announcement (sorry no video).

Update: We spoke too soon, video is now after the break! You’ll have to supply your own Kenny Loggins soundtrack, though.

[Thanks, Fionn]

U.S. Navy looking to protect drones from laser cannons

via DVICE Atom Feed by Kevin Hall on 8/4/10
U.S. Navy looking to protect drones from laser cannons

Remember that big scary laser the Navy showed off a few weeks ago? Well, not that ray guns and cannons are looking like they could be a real thing, the Navy wants to figure out how to guard against ’em.

World’s biggest satellite blasts off into space courtesy of Ariane 5

via DVICE Atom Feed by Addy Dugdale on 7/2/09
World's biggest satellite blasts off into space courtesy of Ariane 5

There was a rumble in the jungle yesterday as the TerreStar-1 satellite set off on its one-way trip into space from a launch pad in French Guyana. After storms delayed blast-off, the 7.6-ton behemoth finally went up, hitching a lift aboard euro rocket Ariane 5 at 17:52 GMT. You can see it kiss the sky in a video after the jump.

The mighty space bird is the mothership parent satellite of the new $700 Terrestar satellite phone, which yesterday had its own, somewhat less stellar, launch back on Earth.

TerreStar-1 should be put into action in around a week’s time, when its 60-foot reflector umbrella is unfurled in a procedure that should take around four hours. Once up and running, expect the satellite and its super-slimline handsets to change the worlds of drug-running, drug-busting, terrorism and counterterrorism. Forever.

Via BBC News

How Much Damage Can a Nuclear Bomb Cause?

via Digital Inspiration – Technology Blog by Amit Agarwal on 12/22/08

Nuclear weapons cause catastrophic damage but have you ever wondered what would be the actual extent of destruction if atomic bombs of various intensity were dropped on some city?

nuclear bomb damage

Project damage from Nuclear Bombs in New Delhi

For instance, the map of the left illustrates the damage radius if a B61 gravity bomb exploded in some part of Delhi while the right aerial map illustrates damage that can be caused by Russia’s Tsar Bomba – the largest and most powerful hydrogen bomb ever detonated.

To calculate the devastating effect of nuclear bombs on any city, go to Ground Zero – this is a Google Maps mashup that gives an idea of the damage radius that can be caused by various nuclear bombs.

You search for a location on the Google Map and then select the type of bomb ranging from Little Boy to a massive Asteroid that possibly eliminated dinosaurs from our planet.

While the “Ground Zero” program does not take into account real-life factors like the terrain, mountains or height of the explosion, it does give you a good idea of the kind of damage these nuclear weapons are capable of.

Nuclear Weapon Explosion – Simulation

According to Encarta, the damage radius increases with the power of the nuclear bomb, approximately in proportion to its cube root. If exploded at the optimum height, therefore, a 10-megaton weapon, which is 1,000 times as powerful as a 10-kiloton weapon, will increase the distance tenfold, that is, out to 17.7 km (11 mi) for severe damage and 24 km (15 mi) for moderate damage of a frame house.

How Much Damage Can a Nuclear Bomb Cause?Digital Inspiration

Pentagon approves spy satellite program

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WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has approved plans to buy and launch two commercial-class imagery satellites to complement its classified constellation of spy satellites.

The Pentagon will also increase the amount of imagery purchased from private companies operating similar satellites already in the sky.

The decision last week caps months of wrangling between the Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office, and the National Intelligence Directors Office and the Office of the Secretary of Defense over which agency would buy the satellites for about $1.7 billion. The satellites are to be launched around 2012. The NRO will head satellite acquisition, according to Pentagon documents obtained by The Associated Press.

But critics of the program say the Pentagon is spending billions to recreate and compete with private companies like GeoEye of Dulles, Va., and DigitalGlobe of Longmont, Colo., which are expected to put four new satellites into orbit by 2013. On its face the decision conflicts with the president’s national security space policy, which directs the government to buy as much commercial imagery as possible to help the companies withstand competition from subsidized foreign satellite companies.

Purchasing the imagery from the companies may also be less expensive. The GeoEye 1 satellite was launched on Sept. 6 for $502 million, including the satellite, launch, insurance and four ground stations, according to company spokesman Mark Brender. It is expected to begin taking 16-inch resolution imagery this weekend.

The Pentagon may decide to turn over operation of the new satellites to the private companies, the internal document notes.

The new satellites will comprise the Broad Area Space-Based Imagery Collection satellite system, or BASIC. They will also have 16-inch resolution. They could be used to spy on enemy troop movements, spot construction at suspected nuclear sites or alert commanders to militant training camps. Their still images would be pieced together with higher resolution secret satellites into one large mosaic.

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. The primary 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.

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 such as floods.

By PAMELA HESS Associated Press Writer

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Weapons-Grade Lasers by the End of ’08?

Des1_rendering_hr Defense contractor Northrop Grumman is promising the Pentagon that it’ll have weapons-grade electric lasers by the end of 2008. Which means honest-to-goodness energy weapons might actually become a military reality, after decades of fruitless searching.

For the longest time, the military concentrated on developing chemical-powered lasers. They produced massively powerful laser blasts. But the noxious stuff needed to produce all that power makes the weapons all-but-impractical in a war zone. So the Defense Department shifted gears, and poured money into solid-state, electric lasers instead. Under its Joint High-Powered Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) project, these beams — once considered too weak to do soldiers much good — have made steady progress. Now Northrop is promising to hit what’s widely considered to be the threshold for military-strength beams: 100 kilowatts. With that much energy, lasers should be able to knock mortars and rockets out of the sky.

Northrop’s system combines a bunch of smaller lasers into a bigger one — Death Star-style, sorta. In March, the company announced that it had completed the first of these eight “laser chains.” Yesterday, the company said it had joined two of the chains together. What’s more, the beam combo ran at peak power — 30 kW — “for more than five minutes continuously and more than 40 minutes total; and achieved electrical-to-optical efficiency of greater than 19 percent.”

We are completely confident we will meet the 100 kW of power level and associated beam quality and runtime requirements of the JHPSSL Phase 3 program by the end of December, 2008,” Bob Bishop, a Northrop Grumman spokesman, tells Defense Daily.

And it’s not the only energy weapon project that’s making progress. The Army just gave Boeing a $36 million contract to develop a laser-firing truck. The company recently test-fired the real-life ray gun on its Advanced Tactical Laser — a gunship equipped with a chemical-powered blaster. Raytheon has worked up a prototype of its Phalanx mortar-shooter that uses fiber lasers, instead of traditional ammo, to knock down targets. Even the eternally delayed, chemically powered Airborne Laser — a modified 747, designed to zap ballistic missiles — may finally get a long-awaited flight test.

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The Navy shows off its insane magnetic railgun of the future

via DVICE by Adam Frucci on 2/1/08

railgun.jpg

Holy crap. The Navy just tested out its insane new 10 megajoule railgun, and it’s clearly the future of death-delivery systems. Rather than using gunpowder like most guns, this thing powers projectiles via magnetic waves, allowing you to launch stuff at enormous speeds.

Just take a look at the image above! It shows the first demonstration of this crazy magnetic railgun, which fired a shell at 5,600 miles per hour using 10 megajoules of energy. And that’s just the beginning. When this thing is done, it’ll be firing shots at over 13,000 miles per hour. Oh, and it’ll be accurate enough to hit a 5 meter target from 200 nautical miles away while shooting at 10 shots per minute. Even though it won’t be ready until 2020 to 2025, I’m going to start getting on the Navy’s good side now.

Navy, via Oh Gizmo!