Man Pleads Guilty To Leaking US Military Aircraft Blueprints

When it comes to security and privacy, there is little more protected than military details. As a result, the information is often protected by several layers of protection, and even if these are breached the chances of it going unnoticed are even slimmer than being able to gain access in the first place. Something Su Bin found out the hard way when he pleaded guilty to leaking US military aircraft blueprints. Su Bin, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing sensitive military data and distributing this material to China for financial gain. Bin’s role in the scheme was to obtain access to Boeing and other companies servers, in the process retrieving information about their military aircraft

Su Bin, a Chinese national, has pleaded guilty to illegally accessing sensitive military data and distributing this material to China for financial gain. Bin’s role in the scheme was to obtain access to Boeing and other companies servers, in the process retrieving information about their military aircraft such as the C-17 and even fighter jets. Once he obtained access, he told two associates, un-named in his plea deal, which servers to hack and what information was useful on the projects. He even provided a translating service, converting the documentation from English to Chinese before sending it back to China, all at a cost.Sending both server details and names of US executives (and their emails)

After being caught in Canada in 2014 and then extradited to the US last month, Bin will now be charged with stealing data listed on the US Munitions List contained in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

With countries becoming more and more aware of the risks and dangers regarding the digital world, catching anybody is a stark warning that just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you will get away with it.

Boeing’s Echo Voyager Can Last Six Months Underwater

Boeing is known for creating a wide range of devices. A surveillance drone here, a giant rocket there and a sprinkling of the world’s lightest metal all over creates a company that seems to explore everything on this planet and beyond. That seems to continue to be true with the Echo Voyager’s, a craft capable of lasting six months underwater.

The Echo Voyager is the latest in a long-range of underwater exploration vehicles from Boeing. The big difference in the latest 51-foot version, compared to its smaller cousins the 31ft Seeker and the 18ft Ranger, is the use of a rechargeable power system. Measuring at 7.4 miles per gallon, the volt uses a diesel generator to recharge its lithium-ion or silver zinc batteries when it reaches the surface (this avoids the exhaust being pumped into the water).

The Echo Voyager is designed for commercial release, giving companies and individuals alike to explore the depths of the ocean. Built to use standard commercial interface and satellite links, you could own your own remote-controlled underwater explorer.

Typically underwater vehicles could only spend a few days away from a ship before needing to resupply and recharge, some even opting for an “umbilical cord” solution of constantly providing the resources needed via a cable or tube. The Echo Voyager could see groups operating more autonomous from larger vessels, opening up new ways to explore the mysteries of the deep.

Amazon is Now Leasing Airplanes to Help With Deliveries

When it comes to ordering things online, Amazon is one of the places people first look. With distribution all over the world, the company is currently at the forefront of technology to help deliver their products, including being the leader in the “drones for deliveries” concept. In the companies latest move, Amazon is now leasing airplanes.

A step up from your garden delivery drone, Amazon has signed a lease on not one but 20 Boeing 767 freighter planes. With the ability to control and help organise international deliveries, could this be the first step in a truly global delivery system?

In an email to ArsTechnica, Dave Clark (Amazon SVP of Customer Service) provided the following:

We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices, and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider, ATSG, by adding 20 planes to ensure air cargo capacity to support one and two-day delivery for customers.

From this statement, it would seem to be the case that the new planes will be there to help support and expand on Amazon’s Prime delivery scheme, something which offers quick delivery of their products.

Am I the only one who’s expecting Amazon to create a drone carrying aircraft to help deliver their products?

ViaSat Plans Terabit Cabable Internet Satellites

High-speed internet is becoming more and more accessible to the world, from brand new fibre networks to expanding coverage of mobile data network. Some places on the planet are still denied these high-speed connections. Many companies are planning to eliminate these internet blackspots by making use of internet satellites, but few can offer the capabilities of ViaSat’s newly announced ViaSat-3, each being able to deliver bandwidth of over 1 terabit per second.

The planned deployment of the ViaSat-3 come as part of ViaSat’s team-up with established aerospace giant Boeing. Between the two, they currently plan to launch three of the new satellites, which together will be able to deliver twice the total capacity of all network satellites already in orbit. Two out of the three planned ViaSat-3 units are already in development too, with ViaSat to design and develop the payload and Boeing to produce the “associated satellite bus platforms” with the first planned to be launched as soon as 2019.

When deployed, the ViaSat network aims to provide internet connectivity up to 100Mbs to residential properties and gigabit bandwidth available to commercial companies including the maritime and oceanic sector as well as oil and gas platforms. This effort will deliver affordable internet to the millions of people living in remote parts of the world that leave them beyond the reach of traditional networks. The first two of the three satellites will cover the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa with the third dedicated to serving Asia.

They are far from the only way to provide the internet to isolated locations, with other companies pitching drones and balloons as other methods of delivering connectivity, all of which (including satellites) are subject to the whims of nature. But internet providing satellites are nothing new, especially for ViaSat, whose existing 140 gigabit serves over half a million subscribers in the US. Regardless of who achieves it and by how it is certain that the world of the future will allow everyone to be more connected than ever.

Second Commercial Crew Mission for Boeing Ordered by NASA

In a move hopefully stemming from NASA’s revitalized budget for the coming year, NASA has issued Boeing a second flight order as part of the Commercial Crew Program. Boeing is one of two private companies involved in the program, the other being SpaceX. The flight order guarantees a second launch for Boeing following the first order that was issued in May of this year, and a mission order for SpaceX made in November.

The Commercial Crew Program contracts dictate that NASA will order at least 4 flights from the two companies, made 2 or 3 years in advance of the mission’s expected date. With 3 of the 4 flights that NASA is contractually obliged to order now filled, it remains to be seen whether the 4th mission will go to SpaceX, splitting them equally, or whether another will be issued to Boeing. If the results are promising, however, the missions may continue.

The craft that Boeing will use to ferry astronauts into space is their CST-100 Starliner vehicle. While the craft was dropped from NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services second-phase competition, it still remains on track to fulfil its obligations to the Commercial Crew Program. In direct competition is SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, which revolves around the recently reinstated Falcon 9 rocket, which, if proven to have fixed the flaws that resulted in a failed supply mission, could pave the way for SpaceX picking up more manned flights.

It is currently unannounced when this new mission will take place, with the previous two mission orders optimistically planned for 2017. The budget now allows for them to keep development on track. With NASA being guaranteed funds for the program going into 2016, new, all-American spacecraft could be making their trips to the ISS within two years.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket to Return to Service this Month

Everything has been looking up for SpaceX recently, being one of the forerunners in the contest for NASA’s contest for their CSR2 contracts to resupply the ISS and NASA ordering the first mission from their new manned rockets by 2017. And now SpaceX have the chance to recover from the one blemish on their record with their Falcon 9 rocket tentatively planned to resume its regular missions to the ISS on the 19th of December.

After a critical failure that caused one of their Falcon 9 rockets to explode shortly after launch while making a routine supply run, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets and their accompanying Dragon cargo pods have been grounded for the last 6 months. At the time, SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk believed that the explosion was caused by an “overpressure event” in the upper-stage liquid oxygen tank of the rocket. Failed launches are far from an anomaly in recent times, with two other ISS supply missions by other companies also failing to launch.

Additionally, the launch should be followed by a ground landing on a pre-leased site at Cape Canaveral, after the last attempt to land at sea on a barge ended in failure. If this launch goes well, it should put SpaceX back on track, which could be just what it needs to win the next round of supply contracts and continue their supply runs for the foreseeable future.

Manned Mission to the ISS by SpaceX Ordered by NASA

Since the halt of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, the only way to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS has been Russia’s Soyuz rockets. NASA are determined to change this with their ongoing Commercial Crew Program to fund development of new manned rockets alongside contractors SpaceX and Boeing. SpaceX’s first official manned mission has been ordered by NASA, to take place sometime in 2017.

While not the first mission under the Commercial Crew Program to the ordered (that honor goes go Boeing), it has yet to be decided by NASA which of the missions will actually take place first, which could mean the race is on between SpaceX and Boeing to get the first launch. Despite Boeing’s mission orders having been given as early as May this year, the company is still only preparing to build their CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Meanwhile, SpaceX is making use of their existing Dragon cargo capsule to develop the Crew Dragon that will launch from their tried-and-tested Falcon 9 rockets, giving SpaceX an advantage due to their experience in technology to travel to the ISS.

SpaceX’s launch date could be delayed from 2017 for a number of reasons. Firstly, their current Falcon 9 rockets used to deliver cargo to the ISS have been grounded until at least December, after one exploded following a routine launch in June. Even more so than for supplies, NASA will want to be sure that the Falcon 9 will not risk astronaut lives if used to ferry them into space. Additionally it has been reported that the Commercial Crew Program has been constantly underfunded by the US government, which could cause any launches to be delayed until enough funds to make reliable launches are procured.

To the outside, it’s like a whole new space race, but instead of being between two states, it is a commercial struggle. With Boeing out of the running for NASA’s new Commercial Resupply Services contracts, SpaceX will want to impress after their recent setbacks, so they can retain their position with NASA.

Image credit to NASA and SpaceX

Boeing Denied ISS Supply Contract by NASA

Today NASA revealed that they will be delaying its awarding of the next round of the multi-billion dollar ISS supply contract until late January. At the same time, NASA also informed Boeing that their bid to win the contracts had been rejected.

This is the third time that the announcement of the contracts have been delayed since June this year. The current ISS supply contracts, named CRS or Commercial Resupply Services are held by SpaceX and Orbital, who won the contracts back in 2008. These CRS contracts are due to continue until 2017, at which point the new program operated by the winners of the new CRS2 contracts will run from 2018 until at least 2024.

Oddly, Boeing’s rejected offering was an adaptation of the CST-100 Starliner craft, which is already planned to carry astronauts too and from the ISS from as soon as 2017. Current contract holders SpaceX and Orbital are still in the running for the contracts after their current CRS contract was recently extended, despite having two failed supply runs in the past year. Despite this, their design is time proven to be able to make repeated, reliable runs to and from the ISS. Another competitive offering comes from Sierra-Nevada with their Dream Chaser spaceplane. This design is more based on the space shuttle than a traditional rocket, touting re-usability as a key feature. The Dream Chaser, like Boeing’s CST-100 is a result of the Commercial Crew program, however Sierra-Nevada’s craft lost out in that contest.

Sierra-Nevada’s shuttle-like Dream Chaser design

So with the winners of the crew carrying missions out of the running, will it be the old guard of SpaceX and Orbital retaining the delivery contracts, or Sierra-Nevada’s more reusable design? I guess we’ll just have to wait until January to find out!

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is Really Happening!

Elon Musk’s sci-fi mass transportation system is one step closer to becoming a reality. Hyperloop, which propels carriages at high-speed through pneumatic tubes, now has two leading companies involved in producing the advanced tubing infrastructure required to create the transport network. Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum and engineering designers Aecom have both signed up, in exchange for shares in Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, to help build the first Hyperloop track.

“It’s a validation of the fact that our model works,” Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said. “It’s the next step.”

Hyperloop was first proposed as a viable method of transportation by SpaceX and Tesla supremo Elon Musk in a 57-page white paper back in 2013. Musk pitched it as the next logical step for cross-country travel, taking people coast-to-coast in the US within a matter of hours. The first full-size prototype circuit will start construction in 2016.

“I don’t think the construction hurdles are significant compared to other technologies that are already out there.” Carl Brockmeyer, Head of Business Development at Oerlikon, said. “From a technical point of view, it’s not a challenge. We are used to much higher and harsher applications.” “I thought, ‘Traveling in a vacuum tube? This is something we should be involved in,’” he added.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies also announced that it has added 400 team members, moonlighting from their day jobs at NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX, to work on the project.

Thank you Wired for providing us with this information.

Hacking team and Boeing Built a Surveillance Drone

The hack of Hacking team was hilarious but serious at the same time, to contemplate a freelance company hell-bent on hacking any target for a variety of employers seemed, well not surprising, but certainly a disappointing period for the ideological view of democracy. But at least the Italian surveillance team only hacked computers, I mean it’s not like they were developing any weaponry… oh my god they planned a Drone!

According to the released emails which became public thanks to Wikileaks, the firm have been planning for just over a year to develop a drone by the name of ‘Snoopy” which was capable of intercepting data from users smartphones through spoofed wireless networks. The emails also reveal that both Boeing and Hacking Team want unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVS) with the aim to carry out attacks which inject spyware into target computers or mobile phones via Wi-Fi.

The plans also reveal that public Wi-Fi networks would also be used to intercept targets internet traffic before injecting malicious code into said machine, with the aim of installing spyware which was developed by Hacking team. This news is also accompanied by techniques which makes use of “man in the middle attacks” and exploits to fish for information.

Well, I am not sure I particularly want surveillance drones which have the ability to spy on computers belonging to anyone. This news also highlights the line which blurs the view of good and evil, if governments were contemplating this concept, how does this make them any better than criminals? Yes, it’s technically for a noble cause by catching alleged targets, but who are the targets? This also goes back to the same question of transparently, governments quite happily inform us that money is tight for essential facilities for example hospitals, yet could well have been planning to purchase eyes in the sky which intercepts data at taxpayers expense.

Thank You The Hacker News and Wkileaks for providing us with this fascinating information

Airbus A400M Software Update Caused Crash

Investigators for the Airbus A400M crash have narrowed down the cause of the software configuration error that led to the crash. According to sources speaking to Reuters, the most likely scenario is that critical software data was wiped from three of the engines during a software upgrade.

During a software upgrade for the engines, data pertaining to the engines, called “torque calibration parameters” were inadvertently wiped. Airbus had known about the potential issue that a software installation could wipe critical data. However, the risk was deemed low and Airbus simply implemented more checks. Unfortunately, in this case, the extra checks failed to discover the problem until it was too late.

Once in flight, a safety check by software would also determine if the engines had any problem. However, this check was only meant to stop faulty engines from causing damage, and to shut down the engines if needed. In this case, the engineers had never envisioned that 3 engines would have to be shut down and the critical loss of power eventually caused the crash.

The cause of the wipe has been identified as the Airbus software used to conduct the installation. Airbus has since warned its customers to cease using the faulty software. With even Boeing finding critical software bugs, one wonders how much care is being taken to software stability and if we can ever trust a windowless cockpit.

Thank you Reuters for the information.

Airbus unveils Reusable Rocket Engine Program Adeline

European airspace firm Airbus has revealed their answer to reusable rockets. Most of the things humanity has shot in space has been expendable. Cost, reliability and complexity have kept us from reusing our space hardware. Airbus’s Adeline or Advanced Expendable Launcher with Innovative engine Economy aims to change that. Using built-in wings and propellers, the engine will detach on a ballistic trajectory and fly back to a runway.

Right now, the most well-known effort to get a reusable rocket is Space X’s Falcon 9. That rocket reserves an amount of fuel and has added complexity to give it the ability to land upright. Adeline on the other hand, should be relatively simpler as it’s more of powered glider and landing conventionally seems it will be much easier. By abandoning the fuel tank as well, the cost of returning the module in terms of fuel consumption should also be decreased. The space shuttle program for instance recovered the shuttle and the booster rockets but let the fuel tank, which is relatively cheaper, burn up in the atmosphere.

Airbus has been working on the project since 2010 and has already spent 15 million euros on the project. However, the priority is still the Ariane 6, pushing Adeline to between 2025 and 2030. As it appears that the Falcon 9 is at the cusp of being recoverable, Space X will be able to offer lower prices fist, cutting costs by over 50%. United Launch Alliance (Boeing-Lockheed) may also be pursuing reusability with their upcoming Vulcan rocket. The biggest challenge for the 3 will be convincing customers to let their expensive payloads be exploded into space by what is essentially second-hand hardware.

Airbus A400M Disaster Blamed on Faulty Software Configuration

As software continues to grow more complex, the chance for critical errors to emerge increases. Airbus has found out the hard way after a Spanish A400M suffered a fatal crash just last month. Investigators have determined that a software configuration error for the engines led to nearly full engine failure, leading up to the crash.

Airbus was able to determine from the flight data recorder that the plane had not suffered any physical malfunction. Rather, software controlling the fuel supply erroneously adjusted the fuel tank trim due to faulty software configuration. Starved of fuel, the engines shut down, causing the plane to eventually crash. The software fault was not inherent to the code in the engine control unit but was due to it’s erroneous configuration settings.

While fly by wire has become very common in the plane industry, the continued reliance on software raises some concern. Checking for issues in software can be more complex than discovering and diagnosing physical problems with planes. Boeing, Airbus’s main competition,  recently discovered a serious software bug that could have led to crashes due to bad software, also relating to power and engines. It’s important for firms to take as much care to make secure and reliable software as it is for ensuring the physical integrity of the plane. These issues are sure to crop up more and before I get on a 100% software reliant plane with a windowless cockpit, that software better be free of errors and configured properly.

Beoing Develops EMP Weapon

EMP, a term used to describe what was once a weapon only in film and books. Electromagnetic pulse weapons were imagined as a counter to electronic tools of warfare, or even everyday life. They were imagined to destroy or disable electronic devices, with no damage to people or property. This may no longer be just science fiction, Boeing and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have successfully tested an EMP based missile with “little to no collateral damage”.

Named CHAMP (Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project), the missile is designed to be launched from an aircraft, and then fly a pre-determined flight path, emitting bursts of directed high-powered energy towards a target the device has proven that it can knock out multiple targets with no damage to the buildings they are in.

Hollywood has long been in love with the idea behind EMP’s, with movies such as Red Dawn starring Chris Hemsworth, showing off how an entire country could be crippled by removing all those modern inventions and devices that we have come to love and rely on. With CHAMP’s reported success, EMP weapons may no longer be held to our screens and minds as Boeing are keen to continue testing and development with the hopes of deploying the device for active service as soon as possible.

You can see the video statement presented by Boeing below,

Thank you Boeing for providing us with this information.

Image Courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Boeing 787 Software Bug Causes Catastrophic Failure

Boeing can’t seem to get away from bad 787 issues. Coming after a number of battery issues and fires, Boeing’s latest 787 Dreamliner has been issued a new airworthiness directive by the FAA to all operating airlines. Again related to power, a software bug can cause a catastrophic power failure, leading to loss of control.

In simulator tests, Boeing discovered that after staying on for 248 days, the plane suffered from a bug causing a full power loss. Due to an integer overflow, all 4 AC generator control units will simultaneously go into failsafe mode and cease operating. This causes the plane to lose all AC electrical power and potentially cause loss of control as well. This software bug also appears no matter what the state of flight is, meaning it could happen on the ground, during takeoff and landing or in the air as long as 248 days are hit. There are some suggestions that it’s related to a 32bit integer overflow after the generator control units have been on for over 231 centiseconds.

While the issue has been present, no plane so far has stayed on for more than 8 months (248 days). Luckily, Boeing was able to discover the issue on its simulators before a real plane was lost, averting a real disaster. While not all software bugs are easy to handle or fix, this is one of those few cases, where turning it on and off just might do the trick.

Welcome to the Future – Boeing Patents Laser Forcefield!

Boeing just patented the technology for a “method and system for shockwave attenuation via electromagnetic arc,” which is a fancy was of saying force field. While we’re still a long was from having the kind of protective bubble seen in Sci-Fi shows and movies such as Star Trek, this is certainly one of the first steps on the road towards achieving that technology.

The concept uses a range of sensors which detect an incoming shockwave from an explosion, while a processing unit tries to calculate the type of blast, the size and distance using its database of explosion signatures. It will then work out the best strategy to use to defend against the attack. The new system only protects against the explosion, rather than any ballistic objects, for which the vehicles used are likely already protected against with their standard armour.

When a blast from something like an IED is detected and analyzed, a laser, blast of electricity or microwave energy can be fired into either the surrounding air or water to create a wave of plasma which acts as a shield between the explosion and the vehicle. The heat and density of the plasma will help to deflect and absorb the incoming shockwave, thus protecting the vehicle. The system essentially fights fire with fire, trying to cancel out the incoming wave.

It’ll be interesting to see how this technology develops, but for now, it’s certainly freaking awesome and paves the way for a lot of very cool technology in the future.

BlackBerry Working With Boeing on ‘Black Phone’ That Runs Android

BlackBerry has said that it is supporting Boeing with the development of its Boeing Black Phone – a highly secure smartphone intended to be used by government and security service officials.

BlackBerry CEO John Chen said that the company would be working with Boeing during their Friday earnings call, saying that “Boeing is collaborating with BlackBerry to provide a secure mobile solution for Android devices utilizing our BES 12 platform.” He added “That, by the way, is all they allow me to say” alluding to the device’s intended high securty.

Details concerning the device are limited, with Boeing’s website offering only that it runs on Android and a number of encryption features.

  • Android Operating System: Convenient smartphone for Android usage

  • Disk Encryption: Encrypted storage for sensitive data

  • Hardware Root of Trust: Ensures software authenticity

  • Hardware Crypto Engine: Protects stored and transmitted data

  • Embedded Secure Components: Enables trusted operations

  • Trusted Platform Modules: Provides secure key storage

  • Secure Boot: Maintains device image integrity

  • Hardware Modularity: Endless modularity capabilities

Source: Gizmodo

Engineers Working For Free to Realise Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Transportation System

Last year, Elon Musk pitched a fantastical idea for a new national transportation system in the US. Called Hyperloop, it involved capsuled traincars propelled at high speed through low pressure underground tubes. Now, a group of engineers are working for free to make the project a reality.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), aided by a group of UCLA students, has made great strides with the idea, to the point that engineers from companies such as Boeing, Airbus, and Musk’s own company SpaceX, have been working on the project for free. The team have developed potential cross-state Hyperloop routes, keeping the lines as straight as they can to prevent motion sickness, and preliminary designs for the stations and capsules.

HTT and the students think they have figured out how to build the vacuum tubes, but are yet to determine how to implement the friction-free propulsion through those tubes. They claim that, with a $6-10 billion investment, Hyperloop “can be built within a decade.”

Source: Wired

Uncovered Hacking Plot Points to China Buying Stolen US Military Data

The recent news reveals that the US authorities have charged a Chinese business man with hacking into the Boeing computer systems and other firms with large defense contacts, stealing their data and then selling it to China.

Mr. Su Bin has been arrested last month in Canada after being accused of working with two other suspects to steal data about military projects amongst other similar data. The prosecutors have stated that Mr Su was mostly targeting information regarding fighter jets, military cargo aircraft and weapons. The information does not come as a big surprise, given that the 2013 reports have revealed that industrial spying from China is continuously becoming a threat. Though no specific proof has been found that the Chinese government is involved in Mr Su’s case, the US still accuses China of systematically stealing American high-tech data.

“We have repeatedly made it clear that the United States will continue using all the tools our government possesses to strengthen cyber-security and confront cyber-crime,” spokesman Marc Raimondi said.

It is reported that Mr. Su runs a Chinese aviation technology company, having its office in Canada. On June 28, he apparently was detained while attempting to gain Canadian citizenship, being accused of attempting to sell the stolen data to state-owned firms in China. While the US justice department remains “deeply concerned about cyber-enabled theft of sensitive information”, Boeing has apparently released a statement in which the company admits it was co-operating with the US authorities to uncover industrial espionage hacking attempts against the US companies.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of BBC

Boeing Start Work on 200-foot NASA SLS Rocket

Moving further out in to space is still one of NASAs main goals, but to do so would require new and more up to date rocket technology. Fortunately, Boeing have just been given the green-light and a wad of cash to be begin work on the new Space Launch System (SLS). The new rocket has been designed for missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

The deal means that Boeing now have $2.8 billion to start building the core stage of the rocket and its avionics systems. The core stage is the largest part of the rocket, it will measure around 200ft tall and play house to huge cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen fuel tanks for the engines.

NASA plan to set aside around $6.8 billion of its funds from fiscal years 2014 through to 2018 for this project, and it’s hoping the SLS will be ready for unmanned missions by 2017. The aim is that the new rocket will be able to carry human cargo to asteroids or Mars by 2021.

Thank you Engadget for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Engadget.

Boeing Banking on Biofuels to Go Green, Help Reduce Emissions


Aircraft carrier Boeing wants to cut airplane emissions up to 80 percent, putting its faith in biofuels to reach that goal.  The airline company blends regular jet fuel into the biofuel mix, typically about 10-percent levels, while the engines can’t tell the difference.

Commercial airline biofuel use has been approved by 2011, but there have been only 1,500 passenger flights that have relied on biofuel.  There is still a large amount of research that must be done in biofuels, with regional testing projects underway.

Here is what Jessica Kowal, Boeing environmental international business development spokesperson recently said:

“Our industry, as a whole, wants to make sure that you can add biofuel to the jet fuel supply without making any changes to airplanes or engines or the fueling infrastructure.  What you want to do is expand the number of sources you can use to make biofuel and expand the fuel types that have been approved and over the years, you’ll get more biofuel and that really helps our industry reduce its carbon emissions.”

Companies trying to embrace biofuels have struggled to upscale feedstock and their fuel production capabilities, and the problem is still being resolved.  Boeing and other companies are looking for plants that aren’t typically used for human consumption – and can be easily and economically grown.

Thank you to My Northwest for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Airline Reporter

British Royal Air Force Shows Off Upgraded Chinook Helicopters


The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has invested £1 billion into upgrading its fighting fleet, and that includes purchasing 14 new CH-47 Mark 6 Chinook helicopters.  The RAF has received the first three helicopters from Boeing and training for the new helicopter is currently underway.

Boeing UK and the RAF want to see the Chinook work as a battlefield workhorse, and the twin-engine, tandem rotor aircraft will serve as a valuable tool to resupply ground troops, transportation and logistics.

The helicopters have forward-looking infrared radar (FLIR), defensive systems, and a monolithic airframe designed specifically for the UK.  The digital flight control system will also allow the helicopter to operate better in dusty and otherwise turbulent environments.

Here is what Air Chief Marshal Pulford noted in a statement:

“Chinook has proved itself time and again on operations, most recently in Afghanistan.  The new Mark 6 variant will ensure the Chinook fleet is able to continue to play a key role in future operations, wherever they may be.”

Purchasing military equipment is big business from private contractors, and the spending continues – the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan revealed the need for newer, more specialized aircraft and weaponry.  The RAF is expected to receive the remaining order of Chinook helicopters before the end of 2015.

Thank you to LiveScience for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of the U.S. Air Force