I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me

by lestro

So this week the New York Times has a cool article about patches made for secret military organizations as a team-building, frat boy, secret-handshake-and-head-nod sort of things, with the obvious nerdly tinges that comes with being scientists:

Wizards appear on several patches. The one hurling lightning bolts comes from a secret Air Force base at Groom Lake, northwest of Las Vegas in a secluded valley. Mr. Paglen identifies its five clustered stars and one separate star as a veiled reference to Area 51, where the government tests advanced aircraft and, U.F.O. buffs say, captured alien spaceships….

A patch from a Groom Lake unit shows the letter sigma with the “buster” slash running through it, as in the movie “Ghost Busters.” “Huge Deposit — No Return” reads its caption. Huge Deposit, Mr. Paglen writes, “indicates the bomb load deposited by the bomber on its target, while ‘No Return’ refers to the absence of a radar return, meaning the aircraft was undetectable to radar.”

In an interview, Mr. Paglen said his favorite patch was the dragon holding the Earth in its claws, its wings made of American flags and its mouth wide open, baring its fangs. He said it came from the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees developing spy satellites. “There’s something both belligerent and weirdly self-critical about it,” he remarked. “It’s representing the U.S. as a dragon with the whole world in its clutches.”

but one of the best really is this beauty, “worn by DC-130 flight crews testing the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missiles, known as Killer Whale cruise missiles. The control planes were Nos. 716 and 526.”

The story is ostensibly about a book (“I Could Tell You but Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed by Me”) that looks at these patches and the behind-the-scenes world of organizations that officially don’t exist:

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our tax dollars at work

by twit

The Raw Story reports on March 28, 2008:

“The 22-year-old Florida man who allegedly provided old, substandard Chinese-manufactured ammunition to troops in Afghanistan as part of a nearly $300 million Pentagon contract also started a private company that specialized in selling foreign munitions to civilian gun enthusiasts, according to public documents”

aaaand:

“The company’s Web site was taken down after RAW STORY began asking questions.”

But they were able to find at least one naughty picture from the now-defunct site:

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nuclear fuses? what nuclear fuses?

by lestro

oh! you mean the ones we didn’t even know we lost?

“The U.S. Air Force mistakenly shipped fuses that are used in nuclear weapons to Taiwan in 2006, believing the crates contained helicopter batteries, officials at the Pentagon announced this morning.

The error — undetected by the United States until last week, despite repeated inquiries by Taiwan — raises questions about how carefully the Pentagon safeguards its weapons systems.”

I am at a complete loss on this one. Yet not surprised. Goooooo Romper Room!

and this is obviously a lie:

“There are multiple players, there are multiple parties involved,” said Ryan Henry, principal undersecretary of defense policy. “We’ll do a thorough investigation, and those who are found responsible will be held accountable.”

No one has EVER been held responsible for ANYTHING in the Bush administration. With the possible exception of Brownie, who was doing a heckuva job until a scape goat was needed.

But luckily, the US moved quickly when it realized its mistake, right?

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(UPDATED!)Spy satellite update: It’s raining metal, hallelujah!

by lestro

FEB. 21 UPDATE AND VIDEO BELOW!

Well, by now we all know that a US spy satellite is getting closer and closer to landing on our heads, but never fear, the Bush Administration is all over it.

Despite initial statements that it could not be shot down, it looks like either tonight or tomorrow a Navy ship will be firing off a couple of missile in an attempt to shoot this bad boy out of the sky, weather permitting:

The officer said that three Navy warships were in position in the Pacific Ocean to launch the interceptors, and that radar and other tracking equipment, both in space and on the ground, were being monitored at Vandenberg Air Force Base, in California, and at a space command headquarters in Colorado Springs.

The operation is being controlled from the Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb., with additional monitoring of information transmitted from the interceptor managed by the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.

Visually speaking, via reuters:

Apparently despite circling the earth every 90 seconds or so, once the order is given, the Navy will have a window of “tens of seconds” in order to hit this thing, which weighs 5,000 pounds (including 1,000 pounds of toxic rocket fuel) and is the size of a school bus.

But not to worry, just in case they miss, FEMA is on top of it:

A United States satellite is falling back to earth and could potentially impact almost anywhere on the planet…

Perhaps trusting this to folks who couldn’t even feed flood victims in New Orleans is a bad idea, but no matter.

I am not worried though. I have seen the Simpsons episode where Bart discovers a comet aimed directly for Springfield. The military tries to shoot it down, but misses, destroying the only bridge out of town. Luckily, Homer’s prediction proves right and one can only assume we are destined for a similar result:

Homer: What’s everyone so worked up about? So there’s a comet – big deal. It’ll burn up in our atmosphere and whatever’s left will be no bigger than a chihuahua’s head.

Bart: Wow, Dad, maybe you’re right.

Homer: Of course I’m right. If I’m not, may we all be horribly crushed from above somehow.

Beyond all that, there better be footage of this. I want multiple angles, high def footage I can download and watch over and over again. Hell, if they run it live, i’ll even get up in the middle of the night to see this…

UPDATE:

At approximately 10:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday night, the Navy shot down the offending satellite in an explosion one paper described as “like the death star.” The military is also “80 – 90 percent confiden[t] the fuel tank was destroyed,” which was the part they were aiming for as it contained the toxic bits. From the New York Times:

“Completing a mission in which an interceptor designed for missile defense was used for the first time to attack a satellite, the Lake Erie, an Aegis-class cruiser, fired a single missile just before 10:30 p.m. Eastern time, and the missile hit the satellite as it traveled at more than 17,000 miles per hour, the Pentagon said in its official announcement.

“A network of land-, air-, sea- and spaced-based sensors confirms that the U.S. military intercepted a nonfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite which was in its final orbits before entering the Earth’s atmosphere,” the statement said.”

USA! USA! USA!

The military will also continue to monitor the debris as it falls through the atmosphere at thousands of miles per hour, but the rest of it is expected to burn up to chunks no bigger than the aforementioned chihuahuas head.

The best news of all of this, however is that there is footage and you know, it does look a little like the Death Star explosion from the original Star Wars, though not as cool as the re-released Star Wars

US predicts 30-minute warning for satellite crash landing

by twit

LATEST UPDATE: Feb. 20, 2008: Lestro reports on new information about the plans to shoot the satellite down, including video of the satellite being shot down.

UPDATE: Via Reuters on Feb 15, 2008:

Ambassador Christina Rocca said that if efforts fail to strike the satellite with a missile while it is still in space, it was expected to make an “uncontrolled re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere on or about March 6”.

UPDATE: From MSNBC on Feb 14, 2008:

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon, under orders from President Bush, is planning to shoot down a broken spy satellite expected to hit the Earth in early March, the White House said Thursday.

U.S. officials said that the option preferred by the administration will be to fire a missile from a U.S. Navy cruiser, and shoot down the satellite before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

… The military will have to choose a time and a location that will avoid to the greatest degree any damage to other satellites in the sky. Also, there is the possibility that large pieces could remain, and either stay in orbit where they can collide with other satellites or possibly fall to Earth.

… officials won’t have much detail on where or when it will crash until it begins to move through the atmosphere and break up.

Basically, if you see something like this in the sky during early March:

https://i1.wp.com/i.newsvine.com/_vine/images/ap/nws/50607ef3-9198-407e-9d3c-ad3388868d1d.jpg
(image via Newsvine)

You have about a half-hour to take cover.

Whether effective cover would be available if the US can’t destroy the fuel tank in advance of the crash seems like a reasonable question, at least based on this report from Boing Boing on Feb 14, 2008:

It contains 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel, which “could turn into a toxic gas capable of causing deaths and injuries if it crashed in a populated area.”

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