Friday, March 20, 2015

Climax Utilities completes first international sale

Climax Utilities, a virtual company created on the website ProEconomica, successfully conducted its first international sale on Thursday. The inaugural international sale was conducted between Climax and a ProEconomica player in Madrid, Spain. The player purchased 30 units of electricity from Climax at a cost of $1.50 per unit using virtual dollars.

"Our first international sale is a historic milestone for Climax,” commented Brothel, CEO of Climax Utilities. He continued, "Our successful electricity sale in Madrid establishes ProEconomica players in Spain as an important cornerstone for this company. I am excited to see our continued growth."

The interactive nature of ProEconomica's virtual world combined with players worldwide allows for users to interact directly with each other and develop entrepreneurial skills.

The virtual company Climax Utilites created on ProEconomica was started in 2014 and has provided electricity and water products to six customers between the U.S. and Spain.

About ProEconomica 

Are you ready to develop your entrepreneurial skills in order to become a really successful businessman? Do you want to manage your own company or compete with other players in a virtual world based on the concepts found in reality? Then go to ProEconomica and get into an unique economic adventure. Join a virtual world that brings you real experience.

Satellite services donated to restore communications in Vanuatu

Following the devastation left by Cyclone Pam to the South Pacific Islands of Vanuatu, satellite communications company SES S.A. and Digicel Pacific Limited have donated capacity and equipment to restore vital communication networks across Vanuatu.

Digicel is utilising capacity on SES’s NSS-9 satellite at 177 degrees West to re-establish communications networks and optimize relief operations and disaster recovery efforts in the cyclone-ravaged archipelago, where terrestrial networks have been damaged and in some cases destroyed.

“With widespread devastation across Vanuatu, humanitarian organizations are working to deliver food, water and supplies as quickly as possible. Re-establishing communication networks is hastening this process and helping the people of Vanuatu connect with anxious family and friends across the globe,” said Michael Murphy, Asia-Pacific CEO at Digicel. “Digicel wishes to thank our partners at SES for their close cooperation, responsiveness and support at this difficult time."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

GPS, a large unaddressed critical infrastructure problem

If the complex satellite system that supports our country's global positioning system ever goes down, there's no backup. Cell phones, navigation systems, timing services and even critical defense programs are at risk.

Industry leaders from Google, Exelis, UrsaNav and other companies that depend on disaster-proof location and timing services are meeting at the annual Resilient Navigation and Timing (RNT) Foundation's dinner at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, DC on April 8.

The dinner's keynote speaker is Google's Vint Cerf, the "father of the Internet.” Terry Halvorsen, the CIO for the Department of Defense will also be speaking.

"The need for a difficult-to-disrupt system to complement the Global Positioning System (GPS) has been well known for years,” says RNT Foundation President Dana Goward. “GPS is exceptionally accurate and dependable, yet jamming, spoofing, cyber attacks and other forms of interference appear to be growing in frequency and severity. This has the potential for devastating effects on our lives and economic activity.”

In the meantime, the U.S. Air Force is prepared the ninth Global Positioning System (GPS) 2F satellite for launch on March 25 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Special limited edition post office cover to mark solar eclipse

For the first time in 16 years, on Friday, a partial eclipse with the moon covering 92.8 percent of the sun will be seen over the Isle of Man. To mark the event, the Isle of Man Post Office will release a special limited edition cover to celebrate the eclipse.

The solar eclipse of 1999 saw only 88.2 percent partial coverage, making this year's potentially spectacular. Whereas, in the United Kingdom the proportion of the sun covered by the moon will increase towards the north, ranging from 84 percent in London to 89 percent in Manchester, 93 percent in Edinburgh, and 97 percent in Lerwick in the Shetland Isles.

The Post Office cover for the event includes three postmarks that show key times of the eclipse, as well as illustrating the moons passage over the sun. The cover is further complimented by three Dark Sky Discovery stamps placed on it from the Post Office's recently released Dark Sky Discovery stamp issue. 

Even if there is cloud coverage, a drop in light levels will be noticeable during the eclipse.

Timeline of events
  • 4:42 a.m. EDT - Start of partial eclipse.
  • 5:43 a.m. EDT - Start of total eclipse.
  • 5:45 a.m. EDT - Maximum eclipse.
  • 5:46 a.m. EDT - End of total eclipse.
  • 6:50 a.m. EDT - End of partial eclipse.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fast & Furious 7 goes airborne with Etihad Airways

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, and Universal Pictures unveiled the luxury Fast & Furious Boeing 777 airliner at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Wednesday. Actor/producer Vin Diesel was on hand as Etihad Airways Flight 171 arrived from Abu Dhabi to kick off the global junket and world premiere of Furious 7. The film arrives in theaters on April 3.

The Fast & Furious 777 plane will fly the direct route between Abu Dhabi and Los Angeles, which Etihad Airways opened in June 2014. The airline is also a sponsor of the Furious 7 world premiere, which takes place in Los Angeles on April 1.

The Fast & Furious decal will remain on the plane for the next four to six months.
Etihad Airways began operations in 2003, and in 2014 carried 14.8 million passengers. From its Abu Dhabi base, Etihad Airways flies to 111 existing or announced passenger and cargo destinations in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas. The airline has a fleet of 111 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and more than 200 aircraft on firm order, including 69 Boeing 787s, 25 Boeing 777-X, 62 Airbus A350s and nine Airbus A380s.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Obama is 'the worst president in my lifetime,' says Dick Cheney

"I look at Barack Obama and I see the worst president in my lifetime, without question--and that's saying something," says former Vice President Dick Cheney in the April issue of Playboy magazine. "I used to have significant criticism of Jimmy Carter, but compared to Barack Obama and the damage he is doing to the nation--it's a tragedy, a real tragedy, and we are going to pay a hell of a price just trying to dig out from under his presidency."

Cheney on whether or not President Obama has undone the Bush administration's work:  "Oh absolutely,” Cheney said. “Where do you start?  The way Obama is functioning now, he's crippling the capacity of future presidents to deal with future crises.  It takes a long time to build up that military force.  And I am absolutely convinced there will be a future president--two or three times down the road, perhaps--who will be faced with a major crisis and will not have the military capability he needs to deal with it.  We are limiting the options of future presidents because of what is happening to the defense budget today. I can go on for hours. He has gone through defense secretaries; you know, he sort of chews them up and spits them out.”

Cheney on the Ferguson tragedy: "It's always a tragedy when there is a death involved and so forth. But it seems to me it's a clear-cut case that the officer did what he had to do to defend himself. He was perfectly within his authorities to take action. I don't think it is about race. I think it is about an individual who conducted himself in a manner that was almost guaranteed to provoke an officer trying to do his duty."

The April issue of Playboy hits newsstands on Friday.

Former NASA astronaut nominated to SCI Board of Directors

Service Corporation International (SCI), the largest provider of deathcare products and services in North America, announced Tuesday that it will nominate Ellen Ochoa to be elected to the SCI Board of Directors at the company's Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held in May.

Ochoa is the director of NASA's Johnson Space Center, a position she has held since 2013. She has served NASA as a manager, astronaut and engineer.  Earlier in her career, she researched optical systems for performing information processing at Sandia National Laboratories. Ochoa holds a Master of Science Degree and Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from San Diego State University. She would serve on SCI's board in her personal capacity.

Ochoa has received numerous awards and honors, including the Harvard Foundation Science Award, Women in Aerospace Outstanding Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity, the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award, and San Diego State University Alumna of the Year. She is a member of the Optical Society of America, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi honor societies. Ochoa currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas (Houston Branch).

Monday, March 16, 2015

SES and Global Eagle Entertainment sign services deal on three satellites

Satellite operator SES and Global Eagle Entertainment, a worldwide leading provider of content, connectivity and digital media solutions to airlines, announced Monday they have signed important capacity deals for services on three SES satellites. These agreements are part of a strategic partnership to deliver in-flight connectivity and services to airline passengers around the world.

Under the latest agreements, GEE will utilize Ku-band wide beam and High Throughput Satellite (HTS) spot beam capacity aboard the SES-12, SES-14 and SES-15 satellites. The three spacecraft, currently under construction, are scheduled for launch in 2017.

SES-14 and SES-15 offer a complementary coverage over busy air travel routes across the Americas and North Atlantic regions, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico, while SES-12 will serve the burgeoning aeronautical market across Asia and the Middle East. As GEE expands its services to new airlines and regions, it can quickly and seamlessly leverage capacity across the global SES fleet of more than 50 satellites.

“Our collaborative work with GEE is aimed at enabling this in-flight connectivity solutions leader to go anywhere it wants to grow and innovate to meet the needs of airlines and the connectivity demands for passengers on the move,” said Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer of SES.

About SES-12, SES-14, and SES-15

SES-14 is a high-powered hybrid satellite with C- and Ku-band wide beam coverage and both Ku- and Ka-band HTS coverage across the Americas and North Atlantic region. SES-15 will provide complementary coverage over North America, enabling SES to serve its leading aeronautical customers and serve other traffic intensive data applications such as government, VSAT networks and maritime. SES-12 will expand SES’s capabilities to provide Mobility and HTS data connectivity services in the Asia-Pacific region, along with direct-to-home broadcasting and VSAT.

Century Downs Racetrack and Casino opens next month

Construction remains on budget and on schedule for Century Downs Racetrack and Casino, which is located four-and-a-half miles from Calgary International Airport and next to CrossIrons Mills, a regional shopping center that attracts approximately 12 million visitors annually.

The facility is expected to open on April 1, with a 0.7 mile racetrack, 550 gaming machines, a restaurant, bars and an off-track betting lounge.

XCOR Aerospace aims for more efficient and effective company with new CEO

XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced Monday that executive John (Jay) Gibson II has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer and President of the company. Gibson succeeds Jeff Greason, who is transitioning to Chief Technology Officer. Greason will dedicate his time to development of the company's two-seat fully reusable liquid rocket-powered Lynx vehicle that takes-off and lands horizontally.

"After a thorough search for the ideal candidate, we decided on Jay Gibson," said Greason.

As CEO, Gibson leads XCOR Aerospace with locations in Mojave, Calif., and Midland, Texas, as well as subsidiary XCOR Space Expeditions in Amsterdam. XCOR will also be establishing its manufacturing facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Most recently, Gibson served as Senior Vice President, Global Mission Support for Beechcraft Corp. in Wichita, Kan. Additionally at Beechcraft he served as Vice President of the Special Missions Group and Vice President/CFO of the Defense unit. Prior to joining Beechcraft, he served as the Assistant Secretary of the United States Air Force, and as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

"With the commencement of the Lynx flight test program on the horizon, Jay's arrival allows this team to focus on getting Lynx in the air, moving forward on plans for our orbital vehicle, and transitioning XCOR to a more efficient and effective company,” Greason said.

New Aleris facility in China qualified to supply aluminum to Boeing

Aleris announced Monday that its rolling mill in Zhenjiang,China, has attained qualification to supply aluminum aerospace plate to Boeing for various aircraft.

Aleris' facility in Koblenz, Germany, has supplied aluminum aerospace plate to Boeing for decades. Aleris Zhenjiang, which opened in early 2013, was modeled after the Koblenz facility to meet the needs of both global and regional aircraft manufacturers by establishing a local supply of aluminum aircraft plate in Asia Pacific.

“We look forward to serving Boeing from another strategically important location in a region that is projected to see significant growth in demand for new aircraft over the next several years,” Steve Demetriou, Aleris chairman and CEO said.

In June 2014, Aleris announced the Zhenjiang plant's achievement of Nadcap accreditation, which allowed the company to move into the final stages of qualification with Boeing and other major aircraft manufacturers. Airbus, Bombardier and COMAC have also qualified the Zhenjiang facility and shipments of aircraft plate began at the end of 2014.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Do your part in protecting Earth from asteroids

During a panel discussion Sunday at the South by Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas, NASA representatives discussed how citizen scientists have made a difference in hunting down potentially hazardous asteroids in space. They also announced the release of a desktop software application developed by NASA in partnership with Planetary Resources, Inc., of Redmond, Wash. The application is based on an Asteroid Data Hunter-derived algorithm that analyzes images for potential asteroids. It’s a tool that can be used by amateur astronomers and citizen scientists.

The software has the potential to increase the number of new asteroid discoveries by amateur astronomers.

Analysis of images taken of our solar system’s belt asteroids between Mars and Jupiter using the algorithm showed a 15 percent increase in positive identification of new asteroids.

“We are extremely encouraged by the algorithm created and it’s already making a difference. This increase in knowledge will help assess more quickly which asteroids are potential threats, human destinations or resource rich,” said Chris Lewicki, president and chief engineer at Planetary Resources.

Astronomers find asteroids by taking images of the same place in the sky and looking for star-like objects that move between frames, an approach that has been used since before Pluto was discovered in 1930. This new algorithm gives astronomers the ability to use computers to autonomously and rapidly check the images and determine which objects are suitable for follow up, which leads to finding more asteroids than previously possible.

“Moreover, this software can now be used to analyze new images and is available to any observer who wants to use it,” said Jose Luis Galache of the Minor Planet Center.

The desktop software application is free and can be used on any basic desktop or laptop computer. Amateur astronomers may take images from their telescopes and analyze them with the application. The application will tell the user whether a matching asteroid record exists and offer a way to report new findings to the Minor Planet Center, which then confirms and archives new discoveries.

The new asteroid hunting application can be downloaded at:

Insitu picks up $82 million support contract for Blackjack drone

The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., intends to award a sole source Basic Ordering Agreement (BOA) to Insitu Inc. of Bingen Wash., for supplies and services necessary to procure spare and sustainment parts and sustaining engineering services.

The type of supplies and services to be procured under the BOA will include, but not be limited to, the procurement of spare and sustainment parts, sustaining engineering services, equipment maintenance, and support equipment maintenance that is required to maintain the RQ-21A Blackjack UAS and provide acquisition lifecycle support.

“These efforts are in direct support of United States Marine Corps (USMC) fleet operations,” the Navy said in contract documents released Friday. It is anticipated that the BOA will cover a five year ordering period. The estimated total value of the contractual actions is $82.4 million and will be funded by USMC.

“This is an estimate of future funding; future years are estimates based on number of deployments and calculated from the fiscal year 2015 requirement per deployment,” the Navy said.

Insitu, Inc. is the sole designer, developer, and manufacturer of the RQ-21A Blackjack, and as such, is the only known source available with the requisite technical knowledge, experience and tooling to perform the efforts described herein, in order to satisfy the government's requirement.

Small businesses interested in subcontracting possibilities should contact Insitu.