News Briefs

February 6, 2012

Got a good idea for a small satellite? NASA has issued a broad agency announcement seeking low-cost flight demonstration proposals for small satellites, which generally weigh less than 400 pounds and are usually launched as secondary payloads. The NASA Edison SmallSat Demonstration Program says this solicitation will focus on the communications capabilities of these small spacecraft. Executive summaries of these proposals are due no later than March 4, 2012. For more information, visit: www.nasa.gov/oct.

February 7, 2012

The British Ministry of Defence recently announced plans to develop a Royal Navy missile defense system, known as Sea Ceptor, capable of intercepting and destroying enemy missiles traveling at supersonic speeds. The £483 million ($761.3 million) contract to develop the system will be awarded to a U.K. company. Sea Ceptor will use a U.K.-developed missile that can reach speeds of up to Mach 3 and will deal with multiple targets simultaneously, protecting an area of approximately 500 square miles (1,300 square kilometers) over land or sea. It will be developed under a demonstration contract expected to continue for five years.

February 2, 2012
By H. Mosher

The U.S. Defense Department has awarded $18 million to six programs to reduce the energy demand of future expeditionary outposts. The assistant secretary of defense for operational energy plans and programs will administer the funds, which are granted programs aimed at developing and rapidly transitioning energy technologies for the combat force. Defense Department-led teams representing the military services and the Department of Energy will receive the money but are seeking support and innovation from small businesses.

January 31, 2012

Elements of the 75th Ranger Regiment in Afghanistan are now using the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS) Rifleman Radio combined with the GD300 wearable computer. The radio enables intrasquad communications, and the GD300's Tactical Ground Reporting (TIGR) tactical app allows soldiers to share text messages, situation reports and other information.

January 20, 2012

The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Basic Training Participant Manual now is available in Braille and PDF screen reader versions. They contain the same nine units of the course and 13 hazard annexes as the other versions. The screen-reader format can be accessed online.

January 23, 2012

The U.S. Army is planning to test a new long-endurance multi-intelligence unmanned vehicle in Afghanistan this summer. Developed by Northrop Grumman Corporation, the aircraft resembles a small blimp. It is designed to carry multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads for more than 21 days at altitudes of more than 22,000 feet. Other vertical take-off and landing vehicles the Army is exploring include the Boeing A160 Hummingbird. The study of innovative unmanned aerial systems (UASs) is being financed by overseas contingency operations funds.

January 12, 2012

A computer scientist at Sandia National Laboratories has developed and deployed DNSViz, a visualization tool to help government and global network administrators better understand Domain Name System Security (DNSSEC) and troubleshoot problems. DNSSEC is mandated for all federal information systems. The tool offers a single graphical representation of the components that work together to enable DNSSEC to function properly. DNSViz actively analyzes domain name by performing pertinent DNS lookups. The tool is running on Sandia servers monitoring a list of 100,00 names and performing an analysis twice a day.

January 11, 2012

The Defense Information Systems Agency's Global Content Delivery Service (GCDS) has introduced a cost structure for fiscal year 2012 that features a one-time fee with no recurring monthly costs. Using the GCDS saves costs, improves efficiency and offers sustainability. Rather than building and maintaining a distributed infrastructure of their own, users can take advantage of this fully operational, distributed and scalable service to lower overall operating costs and improve end-user performance. The agency recently redesigned a website that enhances GCDS solutions browsing, features a high-level description of each solution and includes simplified cost structure information.

December 22, 2011

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have called upon industry to develop a low-cost and secure communications, network management and situational awareness system for the U.S. military, public safety agencies and commercial clients. The solution must enable remote and secure mission-based communications with or without cloud connectivity. The goal is to design a technology with both military and security applications that offers real-time information regardless of the infrastructure and equipment first responders or military members use.

December 21, 2011

Smartphones can now communicate on 90 percent of the Earth not covered by traditional wireless networks. The Iridium AxcessPoint Mail and Web App provides email and Internet connections and features a built-in firewall to block extraneous Internet traffic. Data speeds are up to five times faster for Web browsing and 15 times faster for email. In September 2011, Iridium Communications Incorporated launched its AxcessPoint Wi-Fi hotspot accessory, a portable modem that connects devices to Iridium using an Iridium Extreme or Iridium 9555 satellite phone. Users must own either of these and a purchase a subscription to use the free AxcessPoint Mail and Web App, which is available at the iTunes App Store.

December 14, 2011

Citing cost and migration to U.S. Defense Department enterprise capabilities, the U.S. Air Force will discontinue its Instant Messenger, or AFIM, and Friends and Family Instant Messenger (FFIM) on December 31, 2011. The collaborative tools were made available through the service's portal at a cost of approximately $228,000 annually. Waning interest in the services and the availability of other social networking options-illustrated by a decrease of 71 percent in page views and 80 percent in weekly visitors to the FFIM-led the Air Force to its decision. The capability will now be available through the Defense Connect Online (DCO) chat function called Jabber.

December 7, 2011

Students age 14 to 18 can compete to have astronauts in space carry out their experiments if they win the Space Lab challenge. Budding scientists must upload a video outlining their idea, but they don't have to carry out the experiments themselves. A public vote and international panel of experts will judge the finalists from each age group (14 to 16, and 17 to 18) and each region-the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. The two global winning experiments will be performed on the International Space Station and beamed live via YouTube. The winners also receive additional prizes.

November 14, 2011

The Pentagon's TRICARE office is offering assistance to nearly 5 million people who may have been affected by a recent data breach contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) reported. Officials say the breach came to light in Texas in mid-September and involves patients treated at military hospitals and clinics during the past 20 years. The data, stored on magnetic tapes stolen from a car, includes names, Social Security numbers, addresses and telephone numbers, along with clinic notes, lab tests and prescription information.

November 1, 2011

A new strategy for certifying commercial launch vehicles aims to expand the number of companies qualified for space launch missions. The entrant launch vehicle certification strategy is a cooperative effort between the U.S. Air Force, the National Reconnaissance Office and NASA. The three agencies outlined the joint strategy for certifying new entrants to encourage competition and provide a level playing field for all competitors.

October 26, 2011

One of the government's premier scientific research institutions is focusing its resources on defending computer systems against cyberattackers. The Sandia National Laboratories has concluded a recent two-day conference on cybersecurity by announcing plans for a new Cyber Engineering Research Institute (CERI) that will have a presence on both Sandia campuses in New Mexico and California. CERI is expected to more closely coordinate with industry and universities in developing new tactics to enhance cybersecurity.

October 20, 2011

(ISC)², the not-for-profit information security professional body that administers the Certified Information Systems Security Professional certification, announced this week the winners of its eighth annual U.S. Government Information Security Leadership Awards. Among the winners are a cyber dashboard that foiled a number of attacks against U.S. Defense Department email accounts, a cyber training program for U.S. Air Force Space Command, and a Department of Homeland Security effort to develop a central coordination point for strategic security awareness.

October 13, 2011

Registration for the Team America Rocketry Challenge-the world's largest student rocket competition-is open through November 30. The first 1,000 teams of three to 10 students will be accepted. Participants must be in the seventh to 12th grades and can be part of any U.S. school, home school or nonprofit youth organization. The top 100 teams will compete in the National Finals next May for a chance to win $60,000 in prizes, scholarships and a Raytheon Company-sponsored trip to an international fly-off in England. The Aerospace Industries Association sponsors the competition.

October 5, 2011

U.S. Army researchers have enhanced the Talon robot with an array of technologies to make the system more autonomous. Upgrades include inertial navigation and Global Positioning System technologies, a 306-degree camera system and laser radar, upgraded power distribution boards, an e-stop system, Ethernet radios, control computers and software for running the system. The combination of enhancements allow improved obstacle detection and 3-dimensional mapping.

October 4, 2011

Boston Dynamics posted footage on YouTube that shows early results from the development of AlphaDog-a dynamic robot developed with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Marine Corps. Officially known as a Legged Squad Support System (LS3), the completed robot will carry 400 pounds of payload on 20-mile missions in rough terrain. It operates without a driver, automatically traveling to designated locations using sensors and a Global Positioning System.

September 29, 2011

One more sign that the American military presence in Iraq is winding down: an Armed Forces Network(AFN) radio station is now off the air. After 8 years broadcasting in Baghdad, AFN-Iraq-better known as Freedom Radio-presented its final morning program on September 23 and now relays a satellite feed of AFN Europe. Guests on the final broadcast included Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, USA, deputy commander, U.S. troops in Iraq, and Adrian Cronauer, the AFN radio broadcaster whose radio work was depicted in the 1987 movie Good Morning, Vietnam. The station closing comes 100 days before U.S.

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