The Daily Flash -Eco, Space, Tech (9/01)

McDonnell_Douglas_DC-XA (1) SpaceX Plans October Launch To Put Capsule In Orbit

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, is hoping to launch its second Falcon 9 rocket into space in late October. The goal of the launch will be to place its Dragon capsule into orbit for the first time. The launch is part of the design and testing program after Elon Musk’s SpaceX was awarded a NASA contract in 2008 for flights to the International Space Station. The $1.6 billion contract is for 12 cargo delivery flights and is part of NASA’s push to use commercial space flight operations after the space shuttle program is retired next year.

RAF Menwith Hill is a British military base with connections to the global ECHELON spy network. Dead Codebreaker Was Linked to NSA Intercept Case

A top British codebreaker found mysteriously dead last week in his flat had worked with the NSA and British intelligence to intercept e-mail messages that helped convict would-be bombers in the U.K., according to a news report. Gareth Williams, 31, made repeated visits to the U.S. to meet with the National Security Agency and worked closely with British and U.S. spy agencies to intercept and examine communications that passed between an al Qaeda official in Pakistan and three men who were convicted last year of plotting to bomb transcontinental flights, according to the British paper the Mirror. Williams, described by those who knew him as a “math genius,” worked for the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) helping to break coded Taliban communications, among other things. He was just completing a year-long stint with MI6, Britain’s secret intelligence service, when his body was found stuffed into a duffel bag in his bathtub. He’d been dead for at least a week. His mobile phone and a number of SIM cards were laid out on a table near the body, according to news reports. There were no signs of forced entry to the apartment and no signs of a struggle.

DART Two Chinese satellites rendezvous in orbit

Two Chinese satellites seem to have had a close encounter – and may have even touched – 600 kilometres above Earth, a new analysis shows. The unannounced rendezvous – a first for China – could be a test of technology needed to build a space station, but it also shows the country has the capability to approach and potentially interfere with other satellites. The rendezvous, first reported by Russian media, occurred between two Chinese "Shi Jian" ("Practice") spacecraft, SJ-06F and SJ-12, that are officially designated as science satellites. A new analysis by Brian Weeden, a technical consultant at the Secure World Foundation, which promotes the peaceful use of space, confirms that the probes seem to have come close to each other.

Dn19377-1_300 Katrina's New Orleans: Are the new defences tough enough?

Katrina devastated New Orleans, and the city is bracing for attack. In a revamp now nearing completion, the city's 560-kilometre perimeter has been fortified by toughened levees, cement walls more than 9 metres high and foreboding gates that will grind shut when the enemy – flood water – nears. But some say that these upgraded defences, which cost the US federal government $14.45 billion, aren't tough and comprehensive enough – in part because climate change could lead to more powerful storms. The city is certainly safer than it was on 29 August 2005, when Katrina made landfall. Its 8.5-metre surge went on to overpower a mishmash of poorly connected levees and flood walls.

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