Dec 152013

China’s new unmanned lunar rover running around on the moon sounds a lot like a chapter out of the book I wrote in 2009. Here is the intro from COMPUTER BRAIN : “Competing for a $30 million prize, a team is developing an unmanned lunar rover that performs well, perhaps even a bit too well. Aerospace writer Midge McConnell becomes suspicious of the hidden technologies behind the rover’s performance. Her investigations will take her from Hollywood, to the halls of academia, through the Air Force’s Satellite Surveillance Headquarters, onto a lethally guarded Texas research site, inside an exotic lakeside Chinese Traditional Medicine Sanatorium, and to a rocket launch deep inside of China.”Computer brainYou will note that is a Chinese rocket on the cover. It is in fact the same kind of “Long March” rocket used for China’s recent success. I hope you get a chance to take a free look inside the book on Amazon. It will show up on any computer. Here is the link.

Yes, the $4,612.00 that shows up on some internet browsers for the hard copy may seem like a steep price, but you must realize that each page is individually printed on sheepskin velum on Guttenberg’s original 1439 movable type press in Mainz, Germany. What with removing all the umlauts over the O’s and U’s from the German print, and the book binding and gold embossing each leather cover, it seems like a real bargain to me.

However, I went back into my Amazon author’s account and made a few slight adjustments. If you go to the following link you will find the price has come down by several thousand dollars .   😉

 Comments Off on Florence: News Flash! China on Moon!
Nov 162013

    The “Up Front” commentary by AW&ST Senior Business Editor Joseph Anselmo (April 2,2012) got this senior citizen to thinking: Was the “space business” ever really meant to be a place for “we” to stay in? Growing up in Southern California during the halcyon days of the aerospace industry, my friends and I were raised on the “Promise of Tomorrow” as portrayed in the newly constructed Disneyland, and on the Sputnik-induced fear as spoofed in the movie “The Russian’s are coming”.

In those days, going into space was called the “Space Race”, not going into the “Business of Space”.  To win the space race against the Russians, there was a plan. Goals were set, objectives were achieved, and national pride was bolstered by being first on the moon. Mission accomplished. But what about the “business” of space?

Maintaining a manned presence in space never really had a business plan, certainly not in the sense that your local banker would expect if you came in for a loan. Rather, the public was assured of the “promise” of tomorrow’s unimagined benefits such as new technologies, new materials, perhaps even new or improved medicines manufactured in the weightlessness of space. All this to be achieved as our nation “invested” more and more into an hopeful results that lay just over the horizon.

Well, the public has since learned that government investment means spending our tax dollars, and that  hope is not a plan you can count on, certainly not in the costly business of space.

Charles Dusenbury

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Nov 112013

AIP Technology Creates a New Undersea Threat

Inhanced performance of small, defensive submarines, a serious new underwater threat is developing in littoral waters. Increasingly, smaller nations unwilling or unable to accept the high cost of nuclear power to achieve greater underwater endurance and longer range are turning to lower-priced and less ambitious alternatives that still offer significant operational advantages over conventional diesel-electric submarines.

The Russian KILO, can remain submerged on battery at slow speed for periods on the order of three to five days. But now, several AIP schemes in development or already in operation can increase slow-speed range considerably. As interest mounts in “Air-Independent Propulsion” (AIP) for enhancing the low-speed endurance to as much as three weeks or a month. While still dwarfed by the potential of nuclear power, AIP offers diesel submarines a remarkable increase in capability

The Russian submarine manufacturing company, Rubin, is developing an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system [which will be available as a retrofit to the conventional diesel-powered KILO class submarines].

Closed-cycle Diesel Engines
Typically, a closed-cycle diesel (CCD) instal ation incorporates a standard diesel engine that can be operated in its conventional mode on the surface or while snorkeling. Underwater, however, it runs on an artificial atmosphere synthesized from stored oxygen, an inert gas (generally argon), and recycled exhaust products. The engine exhaust – largely carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor – is cooled, scrubbed, and separated into its constituents, with the argon recycled back to the intake manifold. The remaining exhaust gas is mixed with seawater and discharged overboard. Generally, the required oxygen is stored in liquid form – LOX – in cryogenic tanks.

China has two Type 636 submarines, the second of which joined the Chinese fleet in January 1999.

In September 2007, it was announced that Indonesia had placed an order for two Kilo Type 636 submarines, plus options to purchase up to eight more.

In November 2007, Venezuela signed a memorandum of understanding for three Type 636 submarines to be delivered from 2012 to 2013.

Type 636 is designed for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface-ship warfare (ASuW) and also for general reconnaissance and patrol missions. The Type 636 submarine is considered to be to be one of the quietest diesel submarines in the world. It is said to be capable of detecting an enemy submarine at a range three to four times greater than it can be detected itself.

The submarine has a launcher for eight Strela-3 or Igla surface-to-air missiles. These missiles are manufactured by the Fakel Design Bureau, Kaliningrad. Strela-3 (NATO Designation SA-N-8 Gremlin) has a cooled infrared seeker and 2kg warhead. Maximum range is 6km.

The vessels can be fitted with the Novator Club-S (SS-N-27) cruise missile system which fires the 3M-54E1 anti-ship missile. Range is 220km with 450kg high-explosive warhead.


The submarine is equipped with six 533mm forward torpedo tubes situated in the nose of the submarine and carries 18 torpedoes with six in the torpedo tubes and 12 stored on the racks. Alternatively the torpedo tubes can deploy 24 mines.

Two torpedo tubes are designed for firing remote-controlled torpedoes with a very high accuracy. The computer-controlled torpedo system is provided with a quick-loading device. The first salvo is fired within two minutes and the second within five minutes.

As near as I can tell, at this point most of the above listed submarines are conventional diesel. Not that that is much of a handicap, since these subs are used primarily for littoral defense, not long range blue-water offense.

Since the USS Nautilus, nuclear subs have always held the public’s attention. However, it was two Russian Foxtrot class diesel subs which came frighteningly close to setting off nuclear devices during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The first link below is about the Cuban incident. The second link has details about the Foxtrot class and, incredibly the third link invites you to visit a Foxtrot as a tourist attraction in the U.S.!

Dec 042012

There is an understandable assumption that the Internet is via satellite. Not so. The vast majority of what has been called the “Information Highway” is basically just that; or perhaps more accurately an Internet “Subway”. Five hundred thousand miles of fiber optic threads lace up the Seven league Boots of communication as it bestrides the world in milliseconds.

The particular view shown here centers on the South China Sea. The far left shows the route emerging fron the Red Sea via the Mediterranean and the Suez Canal, and above it the Persian Gulf via  the Oman Peninsula on its way to Mumbai. In the center, the Strait of Malacca with Singapore at its lower tip. To the right,  at a center of that web is Guam with Hawaii just on the far horizon. Then of course Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan. Those of you interested in the Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea will note the main lines branch and pass through those shallow areas. No surprise that while several nations claim those areas, China has penciled in as its “core interest”.

                The green area in this next image is what China has stated to be of “Core Interest”, basically all of the Yellow Sea to the Korean Peninsula, the East China Sea and the South China Sea. It runs along what China is calling its “First Island Chain”.

The red line is the “Second Island Chain”. It is an area China regards as being of special interest. It goes right out to the shores of Guam, sweeping over all of Japan’s southern islands, including Okinawa.

A look back at the map of fiber optic cables is rather thought provoking.

The first image mapping the cables is from: , a remarkable site for visualizing the global fiber optic network. Be sure to visit it. A Mr. Greg Mahlknech has done a herculean job of cross referencing data sources to make a real eye-popping compendium of the world’s fiber optic communication companies and their present and proposed cable networks. This illustration is just a simplified version.

The second “Core Interest” image by the author.

Nov 142013

(Excerpt; see link below)

The finding is reported in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Lisiecki performed her analysis of climate by examining ocean sediment cores. These cores come from 57 locations around the world. By analyzing sediments, scientists are able to chart Earth’s climate for millions of years in the past. Lisiecki’s contribution is the linking of the climate record to the history of Earth’s orbit.

It is known that Earth’s orbit around the sun changes shape every 100,000 years. The orbit becomes either more round or more elliptical at these intervals. The shape of the orbit is known as its “eccentricity.” A related aspect is the 41,000-year cycle in the tilt of Earth’s axis.

Glaciation of Earth also occurs every 100,000 years. Lisiecki found that the timing of changes in climate and eccentricity coincided. “The clear correlation between the timing of the change in orbit and the change in the Earth’s climate is strong evidence of a link between the two,” said Lisiecki. “It is unlikely that these events would not be related to one another.”

Besides finding a link between change in the shape of the orbit and the onset of glaciation, Lisiecki found a surprising correlation. She discovered that the largest glacial cycles occurred during the weakest changes in the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit — and vice versa. She found that the stronger changes in Earth’s orbit correlated to weaker changes in climate. “This may mean that the Earth’s climate has internal instability in addition to sensitivity to changes in the orbit,” said Lisiecki.

She concludes that the pattern of climate change over the past million years likely involves complicated interactions between different parts of the climate system, as well as three different orbital systems. The first two orbital systems are the orbit’s eccentricity, and tilt. The third is “precession,” or a change in the orientation of the rotation axis.

Dec 042012

“A Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel stealth unmanned aerial system spied on Osama bin Laden the night before the special operations unit raid that successfully killed bin Laden at his mansion compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, according to an initial report by the National Journal.

The U.S. Air Force has never released a photograph of the Sentinel, developed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, but it does acknowledge its existence, earning it the nickname the “Beast of Kandahar,” after the airfield it operates out of in Afghanistan…

Though its capabilities have never been formally outlined, the mission suggests the Sentinel is an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, whose multiple secretive missions might have consistently been related to bin Laden. The RQ UAV designation indicates that the system did not carry any weapons. The stealth body of the aircraft lead experts to speculate that the system was being used either over Iran or Pakistan, since the Afghanistan Taliban, according to a 2009 AFP news agency report, does not use radar systems….

UAS attacks more than tripled under the Obama administration and the leadership of Leon Panetta in the CIA, particularly along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border…”

[Excerpts from a UAV organization this writer belongs to:]

The RQ-170 Sentinel is reported to be operated by the 30th Reconnaissance Squadron at Tonopah Test Range, Nevada under the Air Combat Command, 432nd Wing, Creech AFB, Nevada. It is said to be a Lockheed Skunk Works project.

You may recall that the Have Blue/F-117 Skunk Works designed aircraft flew out of Tonapah. Reports have it that the RQ-170 has been operating out of Kandahar since 2007.

More informtion available at:

Nov 162013



Arms Race: a thing of the past? Perhaps if one drives a Volvo with a fading peace-symbol or is a federal budget planner very much under the gun.

Certainly many, this writer included, are not surprised to learn that China is rapidly advancing in the world of technology. After all, read the fine print under this or any other electronic device and you will no doubt find it arrived on a Slow Boat FROM China. What is surprising is the admission that our nation lacks the intelligence, not the bright people, to assess and meet the challenges of China’s growing military clout. The following brief excerpts from Aviation Week, the Wall Street Journal, and the Economist, raises considerable concerns. One glance at these comments and you may agree, America does indeed have a race problem, an Arms Race problem.

“With the surprise rollout and high-speed taxi tests of China’s newest J-20 fighter, a stealth prototype, theU.S. Navy’s top intelligence official admits that the Pentagon has erred in its estimates of the speed with which Beijing is introducing new military technology  The aircraft’s existence was not a surprise to the intelligence community; but “one of the things that is. . . true is that we have been pretty consistent in underestimating the delivery and initial operational capability of Chinese technology weapons systems,” says Vice  Admiral David J. Dorsctt, deputy chief of naval operations for information dominance and director of naval intelligence. Two recent examples of misanalysis have been the J-20 fighter and the TF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile (AIV&ST Jan. 3, p. 18). Moreover, there is evidence that China’s advances include high-performance engines and missiles that display a new level of technical maturity and performance.” (Aviation Week online)

BEIJING—China conducted the first test flight of its stealth fighter just hours before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates sat down with President Hu Jintao here to mend frayed relations, undermining the meeting and prompting questions over whether China’s civilian leadership is fully in control of the increasingly powerful armed forces.

SYDNEY—U.K. Secretary for Defense Liam Fox emphasized Tuesday the importance of the next generation U.S. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to counter China’s development of its own stealth jet, after Britain and Australia agreed to strengthen defense cooperation in Asia during talks in Sydney.

Tom Burbage, general manager of the F-35 program for Lockheed Martin Corp., said Beijing’s progress in developing the J-20 has created a “stronger sense of urgency” throughout the Asian-Pacific region about air-force modernization. He said Japan, South Korea and Singapore are now engaged in bilateral discussions with U.S. government officials over the F-35.

China insists that its growing military and diplomatic clout pose no threat. The rest of the world is not so sure.

But perhaps Shakespeare said it best:  “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your intelligence reports!”

Nov 142013

Selex Sistemi Integrati (SSI) is developing Passive Air Surveillance Radar. It is referred to as a “bi-static system”, that is, one in which the receiver is widely separated from “non-cooperative” transmitters.

In other words, it does not have its own transmitter. Instead, it uses regular FM radio transmissions that bounce of an object. It can also use digital TV transmission or even cell phone frequencies to detect the target.

Obviously, this would make this system very hard to detect and destroy. Multiple antennas can give 3d coordinates.

The following link will take you to “Defense Technology International” article. Click on “inside” to read the rest of this very interesting magazine.

Selex Sistemi Integrati (in english, though linking to it in Italian was very tempting):

At first this seemed like a very original and off the wall idea, but then it was recalled that both Marconi and Tesla had noted that radio beams could be reflected and received. Indeed, what is now called radar was early on an irritating static reflection.

What goes around comes around, or is that merely a passive reflection.

Tesla, in August 1917,  gave the following:

For instance, by their [standing electromagnetic waves] use we may produce at will, from a sending station, an electrical effect in any particular region of the globe; [with which] we may determine the relative position or course of a moving object, such as a vessel at sea, the distance traversed by the same, or its speed.

Marconi in a 1922 paper he wrote:

I also described tests carried out in transmitting a beam of reflected waves across country . . . and pointed out the possibility of the utility of such a system if applied to lighthouses and lightships, so as to enable vessels in foggy weather to locate dangerous points around the coasts…

Oh, did the top photo of rather spindly radar look familiar? Perhaps “Chain Home” came to mind.

Or perhaps you were picturing the German Bf 110G-4 night fighter, ya?

Dec 042012

You know, it appears more and more that fiction is just a novel approach to assembling factual data points into a coherent and hopefully entertaining narrative. This “Milky Seas” is a case in point. Note the ‘glow’ at the bottom right, off the coast of Somalia. It is about the size of the distance from Monterey, to Santa barabara, California. A special thanks to MISSION BLUE and GOOGLE EARTH.

“Milky seas are unusual phenomena which have been noticed by mariners for centuries, but which remain unexplained by scientists. These events are when the surface of the ocean, often from horizon to horizon, glows with a continuous uniform milky light. Although the origins of this light are not well investigated, the most plausible explanation is that it is caused by blooms of bioluminescent bacteria…”

Be sure to go to the link below. It includes Jules Vern’s description of this phenomenon in his “20,000 Leagues Under The Sea”.

A personal note: silly me, I always thought the title referred to depth, rather than distance.

and also:

BL Web: Milky Seas.

Dec 042012

Iran recently released photos of equipment  they threaten can be used for swarm attacks on shipping in the Persian Gulf. The concept of course is to overwhelm a ship’s defenses by sheer numbers. These first images illustrate craft utilizing ‘ground-effect’ technology. I question how much weight of weaponry they could carry, how stealthy to radar, and as one who has done a bit of boating, I wonder how these behave on rough water?

The concept of ‘wing-in-ground-effect’ (WIG) vehicles is certainly not new. There have been many concepts and attempts over the years. Here is an extreme example.  From 1987 into early 1990’s, the Russian navy operated the MD-160 Lun. Nearly as big as the Spruce Goose, it had eight turbojets, six missile launchers, and advanced radar tracking on the nose and tail. Two things to note of interest: it is skimming over smooth water, and those dates correspond to the fall of the Soviet Union.

And then there is this fleet of Iranian mini subs in the following illustration. Speed, range, guidance, and that pesky question of heavy munitions comes up again. Both types of equipment shown here are based out of the port of Bandar Abbas, strategically located just west of the Strait of Hormuz. Several interesting topics come to mind, which will be enumerated below. As an aside, if someone had told me when I was a young man that this is what I had to do to get 72 virgins, or even one for that matter, I might have just moved to West Hollywood.

Seeing these crew members at attention on these mini subs reminded me of a photo I had seen taken in Kure,  Japan soon after the surrender.

The common term then was midget subs, but the picture has a giant effect. All these midget subs stacked like cord wood, as well as thousands of aircraft, were being held back for a massive last-ditch suicide attack against the inevitable invasion ofJapan by thousands upon thousands of young American boys and men. The resulting carnage unleashed had Operation Downfall come to pass is beyond imagining.

A pre-invasion study estimated that conquering Japan would cost 1.7 to 4 million American casualties, including 400,000 to 800,000 fatalities.  Japan would suffer five to ten million Japanese fatalities.

Numbers too awful to contemplate, and unfortunately often forgotten. Certainly such statistics were not considered  by those arrested in 1995 at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum for throwing ash and blood on the cockpit display of the Enola Gay.

Today, the Enola Gay and many other representative aircraft which have served to protect our rights to free self expression sit proudly in the Udvar-Hazy Center adjacent to Dulles Airport. A place well worth a visit.