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News Briefs

Test Confirms Missile Defense Capability

October 9, 2013

The Missile Defense Agency (MDA), U.S. Pacific Command, and personnel aboard the USS Lake Erie successfully conducted an operational flight test of the latest version of the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) System.

Robots Cubed

October 7, 2013

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have created prototypes of cube-shaped robots the size of a child’s building block, which can climb over and around one another, leap through the air, roll across the ground and move while suspended upside down from metallic surfaces.

Fewer Conferences = Less Innovation

September 30, 2013

Industry and government personnel believe that event cancellations and travel restrictions are having a negative impact on innovation and collaboration.

Calling All Rocket Scientists

September 18, 2013

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seeking ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop a fully reusable unmanned aircraft that would provide access to space faster, easier and at a lower cost than current satellite launch vehicles. According to Jess Sponable, manager of the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program, the agency aims to build on proven technologies to create a reliable, cost-effective space delivery system that can be used to launch payloads into space, return to Earth and repeat the process the next day. Technical goals include the ability to fly 10 times in 10 days achieving speeds of more than Mach 10.

Current concepts call for a reusable first stage that would fly to hypersonic speeds at a suborbital altitude then one or more expendable upper stages would separate and deploy a satellite into low-Earth orbit. The aim is to achieve this at a cost of less than $5 million per flight for 3,000- to 5,000-pound payloads. “How it’s configured, how it gets up and how it gets back are pretty much all on the table. We’re looking for the most creative yet practical solutions possible,” Sponable states.

DARPA has scheduled an XS-1 Proposers Day for October 7 and plans to hold one-on-one discussions with potential proposers on October 8. Registration for the event must be received by noon on October 1. Additional information is available via email and on the Federal Business Opportunities website.

Cybersecurity Technologies Ready for Prime Time

September 18, 2013

Eight emerging cybersecurity technologies ready for transition into commercial products will be unveiled at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel on October 9. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate is hosting the event, which will feature intrusion detection, removable media protection, software assurance and malware forensics capabilities.

The Department of Energy’s national laboratories developed the technologies that the DHS’ Transition-to-Practice program will showcase during the Technology Demonstration for Investors, Integrators and IT Companies East event.

Cybersecurity professionals and technology investors from private industry will learn about these new technologies through presentations, demonstrations and discussions with the research teams that produced them. Attendees also will have an opportunity to schedule a private one-on-one discussions with the researchers to discuss opportunities for commercializing the technologies and areas of interest to drive further cybersecurity research.

Attendance is free, but registration must be received by October 7.

Modularity on the Move

September 16, 2013

The U.S. Army is replacing the swivel-chair approach to viewing situational awareness information in combat and tactical vehicles with a standardized family of build-your-own tactical computers. In addition to enabling tactical computers to interoperate, the family of systems reduces the basic configuration computer cost by as much as 36 percent while increasing performance by more than 350 percent.

Based on modularity, the Mounted Family of Computer Systems (MFoCS) includes three models that are interchangeable so it can be customized for specific missions. A tablet computer is the basic building block of the MFoCS. The intermediate model adds a processing unit with a 12-, 15- or 17-inch display, and the advanced configuration includes the tablet plus two intermediate units for a total of three workstations.

The MFoCS is designed to work with Joint Battle Command–Platform (JBC-P), which includes hardware, software, communication equipment and network management infrastructure. However, it also will support other command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance applications.

DRS Technologies is developing and producing the MFoCS, which also will support the JBC-P’s Mounted Computing Environment, one of six computing environments that are part of the Army’s common operating environment.

Personal Identification Cards Become More Powerful

September 9, 2013

 

Federal employees and contractors are receiving updated identity management tools to log onto federal computers or to enter government facilities. The National Institute of Standards and Technology issued new versions of the Personal Identity Verification (PIV) Card as mandated by revised standards. The stronger authentication credential combines cutting-edge technology with lessons learned from federal agencies. Improvements include a derived PIV credential option for use in mobile devices, an optional on-card fingerprint comparison capability, use of iris pattern as a biometric with or without fingerprints, optional secure messaging between cards and readers, and remote updating of the card’s credentials.

Mobility Banks Bucks

September 3, 2013

A recent survey of government employees reveals that federal agencies benefit financially from the flexibility mobile devices afford the work force. Responses from more than 200 federal employees at the management level indicate that 81 percent connect to work remotely at least once a week, 54 percent connect at least once a day and 45 percent connect several times a day. Respondents estimate that, in addition to their full-time work schedule, they spend more than another full workday—nine hours—each week checking their mobile devices for messages and email.

According to input collected through the survey MeriTalk conducted, federal workers believe they would increase their productivity by an additional seven hours per week—or nearly $14,000 per employee per year—if seamless remote connectivity and mobile access to their agencies was available. Among the challenges preventing the extra efficiency are slow connections, cumbersome security procedures and limited network access.

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. sponsored the survey.

Army Shares with Air Force

August 29, 2013

The U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) have signed an architecture-sharing and modernization agreement, which enables the Air Force to take advantage of Army excess information technology capacity. The arrangement will help the Air Force save the approximately $1.2 billion it would have spent to upgrade to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) routers and regional security stacks.

Army force structure changes created the extra capacity. Simultaneously, the Air Force has been working toward modernizing its architecture to take advantage of the Joint Information Environment. The two services will have access to data from DISA-owned and -operated joint regional security stacks as a joint capability; their cyber components will continue to execute cyber defense on their own networks.

In addition to cost savings, the MPLS routers will increase backbone bandwidth to 10 gigabytes per second. Some current bandwidth speeds are operating at 650 megabytes per second. The larger-capacity routers also will help the Air Force and Army converge their enterprise network backbones and gain cost savings in other areas, Army officials say.

For information on the Joint Information Environment Enterprise Operations Center, watch DISA's video:

Contest Seeks Creative Uses for Space Imagery

August 27, 2013

European Space Imaging is challenging innovators to propose new applications for 50-centimeter optical satellite imagery through its High-Res Challenge. The winner will receive €20,000 (more than $25,000) of imagery data to support the realization of the idea.

The competition only requires submission of an idea and not a prototype or finished product that uses high-resolution satellite data. Ideas must be easily implementable and sustainable as well as cut costs and create efficiencies. Last year’s challenge winner used the data package within Cerberus, an emergency mapping crowd sourcing game. Entry information is available online.

European Space Imaging’s challenge is part of Copernicus Masters 2013, a program to provide accurate, timely and easily accessible information to improve the management of the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure civil security. Other challenges that are part of the program include GEO Illustration, Best Service and ESA App.

The deadline for entries is September 15, 2013.

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