Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 20:15 Uhr

Astronomie - German astrophysicists use LIGO data to reveal the maximum size a neutron star can grow



Neutron star upper limit found

German astrophysicists use LIGO data to reveal the maximum size a neutron star can grow. Andrew Masterson reports.

Data obtained from the breakthrough observation last year of two neutron stars colliding continues to drive new research and enable fresh insights into astrophysics.

The latest is the solution to a question that has remained unanswered for four decades: is there an upper limit to how big a non-rotating neutron star can grow before it collapses and becomes a black hole?

The answer, according to a team led by astrophysicist Luciano Rezzolla from Germany’s Goethe University, is yes, and that limit is precisely 2.16 times the mass of our own sun.

Neutron stars are very small bodies, with a radius of only about 12 kilometres, but incredibly dense – so much so that they produce gravitational fields comparable to those of a black hole.

Most of those so far discovered are estimated to have masses of about 1.4 times that of the sun, but there are some outliers, such as the rotating neutron star (otherwise known as a pulsar) dubbed PSR J0348+0432, which comes in a 2.01 solar masses.

Rezzolla and his team are confident that the derived upper limit for non-rotating neutron star mass is accurate to within only one or two percentage points. The calculation was based on previous work, also head by Rezzolla, on the maximum possible density for rotating neutron stars.

Basic physics holds that a rotating entity can have a greater mass than a similarly sized non-rotating one, because of the effects of centrifugal force. However, the act of rotation also places an upper limit on this gain, because above a certain acceleration, the outward forces will overcome gravity and cause the object to break apart.

In a study published in 2016, the German researchers calculated that rotation could only increase the stable mass of a neutron star by 20% before it would fly apart.

From the perspective of the new research, however, the key element was the methodology used to calculate the 2016 findings.

In treating data obtained from the measurement of a very large number of stellar models, Rezzolla and graduate student Cosima Breu realised that neutrons stars were all so sufficiently similar that the data behaved in a universal manner – that is, it could be expressed in a way that was effectively dimensionless. To the researchers, that meant the stars had “universal relations”.

In the new paper, published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, the scientists combined a universal relations framework with data from the 2017 neutron star collision and the electromagnetic radiation event, known as a kilonova, that accompanied it.

The approach allowed a simplified calculation that enabled theoretical predictions of non-rotating neutron star maximum mass to be accurately refined using real data.

“The beauty of theoretical research is that it can make predictions,” says Rezzolla.

“Theory, however, desperately needs experiments to narrow down some of its uncertainties. It's therefore quite remarkable that the observation of a single binary neutron star merger that occurred millions of light years away combined with the universal relations discovered through our theoretical work have allowed us to solve a riddle that has seen so much speculation in the past.”

Quelle: COSMOS

Tags: Astronomie - German astrophysicists use LIGO data to reveal the maximum size a neutron star can grow 


Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 20:00 Uhr

Raumfahrt - ISS-ALLtag: The Cool Way NASA Is Honoring Christa McAuliffe, First Teacher In Space



More than 30 years after teacher-turned-astronaut Christa McAuliffe perished in the heartbreaking Challenger disaster, the world will now get a glimpse into what could have been.
In 1985 McAuliffe, then a teacher for Concord High School in New Hampshire, was selected to participate in NASA’s Teacher In Space Project. As part of her mission, she also planned to perform a few lesson plans. Unfortunately, her dream was never realized.
Now, two men Joe Acaba and Ricky Arnold who are currently aboard the International Space Station will honor McAuliffe by performing those same lesson plans on their current mission in space. Both men are former educators specializing in middle school math and science, though Acaba is from Florida and Arnold is from Romania.
“It's been 32 years since we lost the Challenger crew. One of them, of course, was Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, so I can't think of a better time or a better place to make this announcement," said Joe Acaba, according to the Washington Post.
Had McAuliffe successfully made it to space she would have been the first teacher to do so. Among her lessons, she planned to explore Newton’s laws of motion and experiment with liquids in microgravity for school-aged children.
As for Acaba and Arnold’s plans, the pair plan on spreading out four of McAuliffe’s lessons over the span of several months. The men will film the plans, share the footage with the Challenger Center, who will post the videos online for the public.
"I would like to announce that Ricky Arnold and I, over the next several months, will be working with the Challenger Center to record several of Christa's original lesson plans that she was to do in space," said Acaba. "We are looking forward to sharing that with educators and students around the world."
On Jan. 28, 1986 McAuliffe lost her life alongside six other crew members after the space shuttle exploded a little more than one minute after liftoff. The tragic disaster was televised live and is responsible for a number of safety procedures now in place at NASA. Twelve years later McAuliffe’s backup woman, Barbara Morgan became the first teacher in space.
Quelle: REFINERY29

Tags: Raumfahrt - ISS-ALLtag: The Cool Way NASA Is Honoring Christa McAuliffe, First Teacher In Space 


Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 15:00 Uhr

Luftfahrt - NASA Tests New Alloy to Fold Wings in Flight



NASA has successfully applied a new technology in flight that allows aircraft to fold their wings to different angles while in the air.


The subscale testbed PTERA flies over NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center in California with the outer portions of its wings folded 70 degrees upwards. The aircraft took off with its wings zero degrees deflection, keeping them level during takeoff. The wings were folded during the flight using a thermally-triggered shape memory alloy, developed at Glenn Research Center and integrated into an actuator at Boeing Research & Technology. This technology would alloy pilots to fold their aircraft’s wings to different angles to adapt to multiple flight conditions for aerodynamic benefit.


The recent flight series, which took place at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, was part of the Spanwise Adaptive Wing project, or SAW. This project aims to validate the use of a cutting-edge, lightweight material to be able to fold the outer portions of aircraft wings and their control surfaces to optimal angles in flight.

SAW, which is a joint effort between Armstrong, NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, or GRC, Langley Research Center in Virginia, Boeing Research & Technology in St. Louis and Seattle, and Area-I Inc. in Kennesaw, Georgia, may produce multiple in-flight benefits to aircraft in the future, both subsonic and supersonic.

Folding wings in flight is an innovation that had been studied using aircraft in the past, including the North American XB-70 Valkyrie in the 1960s. However, the ability to fold wings in flight has always been dependent on heavy and bulky conventional motors and hydraulic systems, which can be cumbersome to the aircraft.

The SAW project intends to obtain a wide spectrum of aerodynamic benefits in flight by folding wings through the use of an innovative, lightweight material called shape memory alloy. This material is built into to an actuator on the aircraft, which plays a vital role for moving parts on the airplane, where it has the ability to fold the outer portion of an aircraft’s wings in flight without the strain of a heavy hydraulic system. Systems with this new technology may weigh up to 80 percent less than traditional systems.

The recent series of flight tests at Armstrong successfully demonstrated the material’s application and use, by folding the wings between zero and 70 degrees up and down in flight.

“We wanted to see: can we move wings in flight, can we control them to any position we want to get aerodynamic benefits out of them, and could we do it with this new technology,” said SAW Co-Principal Investigator Othmane Benafan. “Folding wings has been done in the past, but we wanted to prove the feasibility of doing this using shape memory alloy technology, which is compact, lightweight, and can be positioned in convenient places on the aircraft.”

On subsonic aircraft, such as commercial airliners, the potential aerodynamic benefit of folding the wings includes increased controllability, which may result in a reduced dependency on heavier parts of the aircraft, including the tail rudder. This may result in a more fuel-efficient aircraft, as well as the ability for future long-winged aircraft to taxi in airports. Additionally, pilots may take advantage of a number of different flight conditions, such as wind gusts, by folding their wings to adapt to any particular condition experienced in flight.

One of the most significant potential benefits of folding wings in flight, however, is with supersonic flight, or flying faster than the speed of sound.

The Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept seeks to enhance aircraft performance through allowing the outboard portions of wings to adap
The Spanwise Adaptive Wing concept seeks to enhance aircraft performance through allowing the outboard portions of wings to adapt, or fold, according to different flight condition demands. NASA engineers believe this could create lateral-directional stability and reduce drag.
Credits: NASA

“There’s a lot of benefit in folding the wing tips downward to sort of ‘ride the wave’ in supersonic flight, including reduced drag. This may result in more efficient supersonic flight,” SAW Principal Investigator Matt Moholt said. “Through this effort, we may be able to enable this element to the next generation of supersonic flight, to not only reduce drag but also increase performance, as you transition from subsonic to supersonic speeds. This is made possible using shape memory alloy.”

The shape memory alloy is triggered by temperature, and works by using thermal memory in a tube to move and function as an actuator. Upon being heated, the alloy would activate a twisting motion in the tubes, which ultimately moves the wing’s outer portion up or down.

NASA Glenn, which developed the initial alloy material, worked closely with Boeing to be able to use the alloy with an actuator in flight.

“The performance of this new alloy that we developed between NASA and Boeing really showed outstanding performance,” said Jim Mabe, Technical Fellow with Boeing Research and Technology. “From the time we started initial testing here at Boeing, up to the flight tests, the material behaved consistently stable, and showed a superior performance to previous materials.”

To test the technology, NASA turned to Area-I to operate a remotely-controlled flight testbed called Prototype Technology-Evaluation Research Aircraft, or PTERA. PTERA was designed and built by Area-I, which was also involved in the design and integration of a shape memory alloy-actuated, wing-folding mechanism for the aircraft. The small-scale UAV features extensive flight instrumentation that is ideal for gathering data on SAW, as well as the ability to accommodate newly-designed wings for testing. Area-I personnel also conducted flight operations for the test, allowing NASA and Boeing to focus on the research during the flights.

“PTERA was developed as a flying laboratory, and was used in this flight series to host the SAW experiment,” said Area-I Chief Executive Officer Dr. Nicholas Alley. “The intentional, in-flight actuation of the outboard wing panels was a historic event, made all the more special as it took place over Rogers Dry Lake, where so much aviation history has been written.”

NASA used a remotely-controlled flight testbed called Prototype Technology-Evaluation Research Aircraft, or PTERA, to test the s
NASA used a remotely-controlled flight testbed called Prototype Technology-Evaluation Research Aircraft, or PTERA, to test the shape memory alloy. PTERA was designed and built by Area-I, and can be reconfigured to accommodate a wide variety of flight experiments.
Credits: NASA / Ken Ulbrich

Including a pair of system safety check flights, the SAW test flights were conducted over a two-day period. PTERA took off from the Rogers Dry Lake at Edwards Air Force Base with its wings at a level, zero-degree deflection. The testbed was flown in a large “racetrack” pattern, providing long legs of flight in which the necessary maneuvers for the research could be done. During these maneuvers, onboard controllers heated and cooled the SAW actuators, folding the wing panels to different angles between zero and 70 degrees.

For the first two flights, the wing tips were rigged to fold downward, while later flights featured rearranging the hardware to achieve 70-degree upward deflection. Wing-folding maneuvers were achieved in flight within three minutes each.

Follow-on SAW flights are planned for as early as summer 2018 that will expand the functionality of the SAW system, to be able to fold wings 70 degrees both up and down in a single flight. Tests are also expected to take place at Glenn, where engineers are working to scale up the technology flown on PTERA to be used on the wing of an F-18.

“We put the SAW technology through a real flight environment, and these flights not only proved that we can fly with this technology, but they validated how we went about integrating it,” commented Moholt. “We will use the data from these flights to continue to improve upon the actuation system, including speed and smoothness of actually folding the wings, and we’ll apply them as we get ready to fly again in 2018.”

SAW is an effort within NASA’s Convergent Aeronautic Solutions project under the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.


Credits: NASA

 Quelle: NASA


Tags: Luftfahrt - NASA Tests New Alloy to Fold Wings in Flight 


Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 14:45 Uhr

Astronomie - Hubble’s Cartwheel



This is an image of the Cartwheel Galaxy taken with the NASA/ESA (European Space Agency) Hubble Space Telescope.


The object was first spotted on wide-field images from the U.K. Schmidt telescope and then studied in detail using the Anglo-Australian Telescope.

Lying about 500 million light-years away in the constellation of Sculptor, the cartwheel shape of this galaxy is the result of a violent galactic collision. A smaller galaxy has passed right through a large disk galaxy and produced shock waves that swept up gas and dust — much like the ripples produced when a stone is dropped into a lake — and sparked regions of intense star formation (appearing blue). The outermost ring of the galaxy, which is 1.5 times the size of our Milky Way, marks the shock wave’s leading edge. This object is one of the most dramatic examples of the small class of ring galaxies.

This image is based on earlier Hubble data of the Cartwheel Galaxy that was reprocessed in 2010, bringing out more detail in the image than seen before.

Quelle: NASA

Tags: Astronomie - Hubble’s Cartwheel 


Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 11:00 Uhr

Planet Erde - Himmelsphänomene Teil-9

Spektakuläre Sonnenuntergänge sowie Wolken sind in unserer Atmosphäre immer wieder zu sehen

und oft sind es nur Minuten welche ein Farbenspiel am Himmel zaubern. 

Nachfolgende Aufnahmen wurden bei Sonnenuntergang im Mai 2005 über Mannheim aufgenommen:




Fotos: ©-hjkc


Sonntag, 21. Januar 2018 - 09:20 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Rocket Lab Electron-Rakete -Update-2

19.01.2018 / 19.00 MEZ

Second Electron rocket shipped to New Zealand launch site


Roll-out preparations are well underway today at Launch Complex-1. Tomorrow's four hour launch window opens at 14:30 NZDT (17:30 PT/ 20:30 ET / 1:30 UTC). Once again, we'll be waiting for ideal launch conditions. More updates to follow!


Rocket Lab to open ‘Still Testing’ launch window on January 20


Thursday January 11, 2018: Rocket Lab, a US aerospace company with operations in New Zealand, will open a nine-day launch window from Saturday January 20, 2018 (NZDT) to carry out the company’s second test launch of the Electron rocket. During this time a four-hour launch window will open daily from 2:30 p.m. NZDT.


The test launch, titled ‘Still Testing’, will take place from Rocket Lab’s Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula, New Zealand. It follows on from the successful inaugural Electron test carried out on May 25, 2017.


Still Testing will carry an Earth-imaging Dove satellite for Planet and two Lemur-2 satellites for Spire for weather and ship tracking, enabling Rocket Lab to gather crucial data and test systems for the deployment stage of a mission. 


Peter Beck, Founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, says the test is an important next step in democratizing access to space to empower humanity.


“Increased access to space will vastly improve humanity’s ability to build out orbital infrastructure, such as constellations of weather and Earth-imaging satellites. These will provide better data about our planet and enable us as a species to make informed decisions about how we better manage our impact. This test launch is a crucial next step in gathering more data about the Electron launch vehicle so we can deliver on this future,” he says.


“Once again, we’re expecting to scrub multiple times as we wait for perfect conditions and make sure everything on the vehicle is performing as it should.”


The test launch attempt will only proceed if conditions are ideal for launch. Due to the nature of launching rockets, planned lift-offs are often subject to multiple and subsequent postponements, or scrubs, to allow for small, technical modifications and to wait for ideal weather conditions.


The Still Testing launch attempt will be live streamed to the public. A live video stream will be available approximately 15 minutes prior to a launch attempt and will be viewable on YouTube and at  

Quelle: RocketLab


Update: 22.20 MEZ

Electron is vertical on the pad at Launch Complex-1


Quelle: RocketLab


Update: 20.01.2018


Quelle: RocketLab


Rocket Lab forced to abort launch again

New Zealand-based space company Rocket Lab has failed to launch a test rocket from Mahia Peninsula due to two rogue vessels and weather.



Rocket Lab's latest test launch hasn't quite gone to plan after two rogue vessels were spotted in the vicinity.

The Electron rocket failed to make it into the skies on Saturday with the launch put on hold in the final moments, due to the vessels.

A second attempt later in the day didn't come to fruition either due to weather implications.

This was Rocket Lab's second attempt to complete the test launch - in December it came within two seconds of lift-off before the countdown was aborted because of "rising liquid oxygen temperatures" not compatible with the afternoon's warm conditions.

Shortly after, it suspended launch attempts until early 2018.

The flight will be the second for Rocket Lab and will carry small Earth-imaging satellites for US companies Planet Labs and Spire Global.

The company's inaugural test last May reached space but didn't make it into orbit after a communication fault forced the flight to be aborted early.

Rocket Lab will make another attempt to launch on Sunday afternoon.

Quelle: NZCity


Update: 21.01.2018


Rocket Lab successfully reaches orbit and deploys payloads


Huntington Beach, California and Auckland, New Zealand January 21 2018:

Rocket Lab has successfully reached orbit with the test flight of its second Electron orbital launch vehicle, Still Testing. Electron lifted-off at 14:43 NZDT from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Māhia Peninsula in New Zealand.

Following successful first and second stage burns, Electron reached orbit and deployed customer payloads at 8 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off.

“Today marks the beginning of a new era in commercial access to space. We’re thrilled to reach this milestone so quickly after our first test launch,” says Rocket Lab CEO and founder Peter Beck. “Our incredibly dedicated and talented team have worked tirelessly to develop, build and launch Electron. I’m immensely proud of what they have achieved today.”

“Reaching orbit on a second test flight is significant on its own, but successfully deploying customer payloads so early in a new rocket program is almost unprecedented. Rocket Lab was founded on the principal of opening access to space to better understand our planet and improve life on it. Today we took a significant step towards that,” he says.   

In the coming weeks Rocket Lab engineers will analyse the data from today’s launch to inform future launches. Rocket Lab currently has five Electron vehicles in production, with the next launch expected to take place in early 2018.  At full production, Rocket Lab expects to launch more than 50 times a year, and is regulated to launch up to 120 times a year, more than any other commercial or government launch provider in history.

Still Testing was carrying a Dove Pioneer Earth-imaging satellite for launch customer Planet, as well as two Lemur-2 satellites for weather and ship tracking company Spire.

Rocket Lab’s commercial phase will see Electron fly already-signed customers including NASA, Spire, Planet, Moon Express and Spaceflight.






Tags: Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für Electron-Rakete von Rocket Lab -Update-2 Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Rocket Lab Electron-Rakete -Update-2 


Samstag, 20. Januar 2018 - 19:45 Uhr



De krachtigste supercomputer van Nederland staat in Drenthe


Aims to uncover Fast Radio Bursts using gaming technology

Every day, thousands of enormous explosions go off in the sky: so-called Fast Radio Bursts. To better understand the flashes and the gigantic energies behind them, ASTRON - the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, an NWO institute - recently installed new high-speed cameras on the radio telescope in Westerbork, the Netherlands. These cameras have just received new brains: the most powerful supercomputer in the Netherlands.

Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are extremely bright flashes of radio light, that travel billions of light years to reach Earth. Discovered over a decade ago, their origin and nature are still largely a mystery. Because the flashes last only a fraction of a second, they are easy to miss and very difficult to observe. Therefore, only about 25 FRBs have been discovered so far.

 Last checks before activation © Elodie Burrillon

Last checks before activation - © Elodie Burrillon --

Brain for the telescope
That is now going to change with Apertif, the new wide-field cameras for ASTRON's radio telescope in Westerbork, the Netherlands. Apertif has the largest, most sensitive field of view of all radio telescopes in the world. To find FRBs, Apertif needs to continuously make a high-speed movie of the radio sky, at 20.000 frames per second. This requires new, more powerful brains. "To form and process all those images, we need the computing power that only the fastest supercomputers in the world can produce", says Joeri van Leeuwen from ASTRON and the University of Amsterdam. "But we did not have such a computer yet. That’s why we designed and built this one ourselves."

 Looking at first data © Elodie Burrillon  --

Looking at first data - © Elodie Burrillon --

Gaming technology
The new supercomputer, called ARTS, has a special feature. It is completely powered by image processing chips from the gaming industry. "Gamers use very powerful processors for video tasks: the GPUs", explains Van Leeuwen. "We now use these chips for the first time to process the high-speed images of our telescope." The supercomputer consists of 200 of these GPUs, which process 4 terabits of data per second: more than the entire internet of the Netherlands. With a peak compute capacity of 2 petaflops it is the most powerful GPU supercomputer in the Netherlands.

 More data than the internet in the Netherlands © Elodie Burrillon  --

More data than the internet in the Netherlands- © Elodie Burrillon --

Self-learning ability
The supercomputer will be able to teach itself to find FRBs in the thousands of pictures of the telescope. "We have always done this manually," says Van Leeuwen. "But that is a lot of work, and also error-prone. As it detects more flashes, the supercomputer will learn to distinguish the flashes better and better. We hope to discover one FRB per week. Our system is unique in the world in that it can then also immediately determine the precise location."

 The direction in the sky of the first observation of ARTS (to Andromeda)
© Elodie Burrillon  --

The direction in the sky of the first observation of ARTS (to Andromeda)- © Elodie Burrillon --

Unravelling the FRB mystery
With the supercomputer Van Leeuwen hopes to unravel the mystery surrounding the Fast Radio Bursts. "We know that they come from other galaxies, but we cannot pinpoint the exact location. It is also unknown whether all FRBs are bright bursts from neutron stars, exploding stars, or black holes that send out flashes." Astronomer Samayra Straal from the University of Amsterdam is also eager for the output of the new machine. "Some FRBs repeat. With the new technology, we discover the flash ‘live’, and can immediately freeze the telescope motion to stare in that direction for more flashes. We think that can help us understand what causes them. "

 Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope with ARTS

Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope with ARTS - © Elodie Burrillon --

The Apertif supercomputer, called ARTS, was funded by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA).

Quelle: ASTRON



Samstag, 20. Januar 2018 - 19:35 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Happy Birthday, Buzz Aldrin!



Happy birthday to Buzz Aldrin! The astronaut turns 88 on January 20.

Nearly 50 years after he landed on the moon as part of the iconic Apollo 11 mission, Aldrin is still an active advocate for space exploration. Now, he has his sights set even farther away, lobbying for a manned mission to Mars within the next 20 years.

In the meantime, in honor of his birthday, we’re looking back at some of the most iconic photos from the lunar landing that made Buzz Aldrin a household name.



1966 Gemini-Mission / Buzz Aldrin


Quelle: NASA


Tags: Raumfahrt - Happy Birthday, Buzz Aldrin! 


Samstag, 20. Januar 2018 - 19:30 Uhr

Raumfahrt - Erfolgreicher Start von Atlas V mit (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 Satelliten


NOAA's GOES-S weather satellite, slated for 2018 launch, arrives at KSC


An Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy delivers the NOAA's latest weather satellite to Kennedy Space Center on Monday.



A rocket from the same Atlas V family launched its $1 billion forerunner in 2016, also known as GOES-R, and was designated GOES-16 after coming online. GOES-S will follow the same pattern and become GOES-17 after achieving the intended orbit and completing tests.

Quelle: Florida Today


NASA Invites Media to See NOAA Weather Spacecraft Before March Launch


At Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida, technicians and engineers move NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S) into a clean room for further processing.
Credits: NASA/Leif Heimbold

Media are invited to view the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-S (GOES-S), the second in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) series of next-generation geostationary weather satellites, at 9:30 a.m. EST Tuesday, Jan. 16.



This event, to be held at the Astrotech Space Operations payload processing facility in Titusville, Florida, is an opportunity to photograph GOES-S and interview project and program officials. Media interested in attending this event must email ksc-media-accreditat@mail.nasa.govno later than noon on Thursday, Jan. 11.


Due to clean room requirements, no more than 20 individuals will be allowed to participate, and no more than two per media organization. This event is open only to U.S. citizens who possess a government-issued photo identification, such as a driver's license, and proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a passport or birth certificate.


Facility Access


Please read these instructions carefully, or you may be denied access to the clean room.


Procedures for optically sensitive spacecraft must be followed by individuals entering the clean room where the spacecraft is being prepared for launch. Long pants and closed-toe shoes must be worn. No tank tops, shorts or skirts will be permitted. Full clean-room attire (bunny suits) must be worn and will be furnished. Please do not wear perfume, cologne, hair spray or makeup. Those wearing makeup will be required to remove it prior to entry.


Photographers will need to clean camera equipment under the supervision or assistance of contamination-control specialists. All camera equipment must be self-contained. Nonessential equipment, such as suede, leather or vinyl camera bags, carrying cases, camera straps, or accessories with Velcro must be left outside the clean room. No notebook paper, pencils or click-type ball point pens are permitted; clean-room paper and non-retractable ball point pens will be provided.


Use of wireless microphones and cell phones will be permitted if not contained in external cases or holding devices. Electronic flash will be permitted. The lighting in the facility is metal halide (white) for pictures. No food, chewing gum, tobacco, lighters, matches or pocketknives will be allowed and so should not be brought to the Astrotech clean room.


The GOES-R satellite series, which includes GOES-R, -S, -T and -U, is the nation’s most advanced fleet of geostationary weather satellites that will extend the availability of the operational GOES satellite system through 2036.


GOES-S is scheduled to launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 5:02 p.m. EST Thursday, March 1, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft will significantly improve the detection and observation of environmental phenomena that directly affect public safety, protection of property and the nation's economic health and prosperity.


NOAA manages the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office and is responsible for the science and data applications. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, provides spacecraft project management, systems engineering, and safety and mission assurance. Lockheed Martin Space of Littleton, Colorado, built the spacecraft and is responsible for spacecraft development, integration and testing.


Mission operations will be performed by NOAA at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Harris Corp., of Melbourne, Florida, provided the main instrument payload, the Advanced Baseline Imager, the antenna system for data receipt and the ground segment. NASA’s Launch Services Program is responsible for launch management. United Launch Alliance of Centennial, Colorado, is the provider of the Atlas V launch service.

Quelle: NASA


Update: 10.01.2018


NOAA prepares GOES-S for launch as Lockheed Martin builds successors


Lockheed Martin engineers and technicians are assembling NOAA's Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) T at the company's Littleton, Colorado facility in preparation for launch in late 2020. Credit: Lockheed Martin


AUSTIN, Texas — As the National Oceanic and Aeronautics Administration prepares for the March 1 launch of its next Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) S on an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, prime contractor Lockheed Martin is working in Denver on its successors GOES-T and GOES-U.

GOES-S is in the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida, and “functionally, things look good,” Tim Walsh, NOAA’s acting system program director for the GOES-R series, said Jan. 9 at the American Meteorological Society meeting here. “Soon, we’ll be stacking it on the rocket.”

GOES-S, which will be renamed GOES-17 when it reaches geostationary orbit, will go into service immediately upon commissioning, Steve Volz, NOAA acting assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction, said Jan. 9 at the AMS meeting to a round of applause from researchers eager for access to the data. Within six months of launch, NOAA plans to move the GOES-S satellite into position to serve as the GOES-west satellite, Volz added.

As final preparations for the GOES-S launch continue in Florida, Lockheed Martin is working in Denver on its successors GOES-T and GOES-U. Engineers are installing the solar pointing instruments, Extreme Ultraviolet and X-Ray Irradiance Sensors and Solar Ultraviolet Imager, on the GOES-T satellite. In February, they plan to begin integrating GOES-T’s nadir instruments, Advanced Baseline Imager and Global Lightning Mapper, Tim Gasparinni, Lockheed Martin GOES-R Series program manager, said in an interview.

After launch slated for 2020, GOES-T will be stored over the middle of the continental United States where it will serve as NOAA’s spare geostationary satellite, Walsh said.


Technicians at Lockheed Martin work on GOES-T satellite. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Quelle: SN


Update: 12.01.2018

SBIRS GEO Flight-4 encapsulation completed




Technicians make last-minute preparations for the encapsulation of the Air Force's Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Flight-4 (SBIRS GEO-4) satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Jan. 9. GEO Flight-4 will make the journey to Space Launch Complex-41 on Jan. 11, where it will be mated with its Atlas V-411 rocket. It is scheduled for launch on Jan. 18 at 7:52 p.m., Eastern (4:52 p.m. Pacific). (Photo courtesy Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Colorado)



The Air Force's Space Based Infrared System Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Flight-4 (SBIRS GEO-4) satellite completed encapsulation today at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

This encapsulation event is a significant milestone in GEO Flight-4's launch process as it marks the satellite's completion of all major testing milestones prior to launch.

On Jan. 11, GEO Flight-4 will make the journey to Space Launch Complex-41, where it will be mated with its Atlas V-411 rocket. It is scheduled for launch on Jan. 18 at 7:52 p.m., Eastern (4:52 p.m. Pacific).

Quelle: USAF


Update: 16.01.2018


New U.S. missile-warning satellite set for launch at Cape Canaveral


SBIRS is the United States’ main source of persistent, space-based surveillance of missile launches around the globe.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military’s newest missile-warning satellite is set to lift off later this week just as tensions continue to mount over North Korea’s ICBM program.

Crews at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, are preparing to launch the SBIRS GEO Flight-4 satellite on Thursday from a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

“Everything is progressing toward the ULA Atlas V launch carrying the Space Based Infrared System GEO Flight 4 mission for the U.S. Air Force,” ULA announced on Monday. The forecast shows an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for the planned 7:52PM EST liftoff on Thursday.

Lockheed Martin manufactured the satellite in Sunnyvale, California. It was delivered to Florida on Oct. 31 and encapsulated on Jan. 9. During encapsulation, the satellite was sealed in its launch fairing, an aerodynamic, nose-cone shell that protects the satellite during launch. In the days leading up to the launch, the fairing with the satellite enclosed will be mounted on top of the Atlas V rocket.

SBIRS is the United States’ main source of persistent, space-based surveillance of missile launches around the globe.

The Flight-4 launch comes less than a year since SBIRS GEO Flight-3 sent its first images down to Earth in a milestone known as “first light.” These two satellites join SBIRS GEO-1 and GEO-2, which have been in operation since 2013.

The constellation includes four geostationary satellites, two SBIRS hosted payloads on satellites in highly elliptical orbit, two replenishment satellites and sensors, and fixed and mobile ground stations.

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments estimated that total costs for the two payloads and four geo satellites, plus ground support, come to approximately $13.6 billion. Each satellite with spares and accessories is estimated to cost $1.7 billion. The Pentagon requested $1.3 billion in 2018 for SBIRS — $862 million more than was appropriated in 2017.

The Air Force plans to soon move forward with the next batch of satellites, GEO-5 and GEO-6. Lockheed Martin intends to use a modernized LM 2100 satellite bus. After a “critical design review” in September, the Air Force, authorized the GEO 5 and 6 satellites to begin the manufacturing and integration phase.

The SBIRS satellites are equipped with powerful scanning and staring infrared surveillance sensors that collect data for use by the U.S. military to detect missile launches, support ballistic missile defense and gather broader intelligence.


Air Force launches new project to update missile-warning ground software


The “future operationally resilient ground evolution,” or FORGE, is part of a broader SBIRS modernization plan.

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials are talking to potential vendors this week about an upcoming project to update the software used to control the military’s missile-warning satellites and to analyze the data beamed from space.

The ground-based systems are the less exciting but nonetheless important piece of the SBIRS space-based infrared surveillance satellites that provide initial warning of a ballistic missile attack on the United States, deployed forces and allies.

The plan is to shift the current ground software architecture — a closed system developed by traditional defense contractors that is not compatible with commercial software from competing vendors — to an open-systems platform that the Air Force would own and update with new technology as it becomes available.

The project is called “future operationally resilient ground evolution,” or FORGE. It is part of a broader $173.5 million SBIRS modernization plan. And it is one of several projects where Air Force hopes to attract nontraditional vendors that can bring fresh ideas and cutting-edge products.

The “space enterprise consortium,” overseen by the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, is hosting a conference with potential vendors this week in El Segundo, California. Interest in the FORGE program has been so strong that the consortium had to cut off registration for one-on-one meetings.

“Due to overwhelming interest,” not everyone who requested a meeting will get one, said a posting on the consortium’s website.

The enthusiasm may be a sign that companies believe the Air Force is about to shake up the status quo in some of its major space programs. FORGE and other projects managed by the consortium will test the rhetoric of Air Force leaders who have promised to open the market to commercial businesses and startups. In this case, the Air Force will create a common software framework that will be owned by the government but where companies will be able to host software applications.

The ground software associated with SBIRS, like other major military space systems, is costly and increasingly difficult to update, according to government and industry officials. Because it is not an open architecture, the Air Force is not able to insert fresh software on a regular basis.

The plan is to migrate SBIRS mission management, telemetry, tracking, and satellite ground control to a “command-and-control common platform” enterprise. The Air Force will use commercial contracting methods, known as “other transactions authority,” or OTA, to fund prototype designs of a common framework. The other portion of the FORGE program will focus on software to analyze and disseminate the data provided by the SBIRS satellites.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for SBIRS. Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems is the payload integrator. The 460th Space Wing at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, operates the system.

The space enterprise consortium has been mentioned by senior Air Force officials as proof that the service is opening up opportunities for newcomers that thus far have been shut out of the military market.

The Space and Missile Systems Center funded the consortium under a $100 million OTA agreement. Membership costs $7,500 per year for large companies and $500 per year for small businesses. About 40 companies so far have joined.

An industry official told SpaceNews that the reviews of the consortium generally have been positive. Commercial companies for years have been disappointed by the military’s procurement and contracting processes that tend to favor incumbent companies. A case in point is a highly touted Air Force effort to acquire hosted payloads from the commercial sector. The program came under heavy industry criticism for awarding far fewer contracts than promised.

The OTA agreements usually require that the vendor fund a portion of the project. To prevent established defense companies from buying their way into every project, the contracts require participation by nontraditional suppliers. The bidder has to prove that a nontraditional space company plays a significant role.

Als through the consortium, the Space and Missile Systems Center has published a solicitation for microsatellites intended to operate in high-Earth orbit that would cost less than $5 million each. This project will be highly watched by the small-satellite industry as an indicator of how the service will procure products from the commercial market. SMC would use small satellites to design a “flexible spacecraft architecture” for missions like communication, overhead persistent infrared, precision navigation and timing, weather and space situational awareness.

The potential use of small satellites for the overhead persistent infrared mission — currently performed by SBIRS — should be of interest to advocates of moving away from large expensive satellites that make for “high value” targets to U.S. enemies. U.S. Strategic Command commanding general John Hyten said he was disappointed that the Air Force already is making plans to build a new missile-warning constellation similar to SBIRS that would be deployed in 2029. Hyten said it is imperative that “we go faster.”

Quelle: SN


Update: 18.01.2018 / 12.45 MEZ


Atlas V to Launch SBIRS GEO Flight 4 for the U.S. Air Force


Atlas V SBIRS GEO Flight 4 Mission Overview

  • Rocket: Atlas V 411
  • Mission: Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4
  • Launch Date: Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018
  • Launch Time: The 40-minute launch window opens at 7:52 p.m. EST
  • Live Broadcast: Tune in beginning at 7:32 p.m. EST
  • Launch Location: Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Mission Description: SBIRS, considered one of the nation's highest priority space programs, is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands in four national security mission areas: missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness. The SBIRS team is led by the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center. Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor, with Northrop Grumman as the payload integrator. Air Force Space Command operates the SBIRS system.

Launch Notes: ULA also launched the first three SBIRS GEO missions. SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission will mark ULA’s 125th mission overall since the company was founded in 2006. It’s also the 75th Atlas V launch since the rocket’s inaugural flight in 2002.

Quelle: ULA


Update: 19.01.2018


Jan. 18, 2018, 7:28 p.m. EST: The launch of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V carrying the SBIRS GEO Flight 4 mission was scrubbed today due to a ground issue associated with the booster liquid oxygen system.

The launch is planned for Friday, Jan. 19, from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The forecast shows a 90 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The launch time is 7:48 p.m. ET.

Quelle: ULA


Update: 17.30 MEZ



Update: 20.01.2018 / 7.30 MEZ


Two launches from two coasts in just one week.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Jan. 19 at 7:48 p.m. EST. SBIRS is considered one of the nation’s highest priority space programs, and is designed to provide global, persistent, infrared surveillance capabilities to meet 21st century demands.

“Meeting the challenge of launching two critical national security missions from opposite coasts within a week, the entire ULA team once again demonstrated its unwavering dedication to 100% mission success,” said Laura Maginnis, ULA vice president of Government Satellite Launch. “Thank you to our U.S. Air Force and industry teammates for their outstanding partnership in successfully delivering SBIRS to orbit today.”

This mission was launched aboard an Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) 411 configuration vehicle, which includes a 4-meter Payload Fairing (PLF). The Atlas booster for this mission was powered by the RD AMROSS RD-180 engine. Aerojet Rocketdyne provided the AJ-60A solid rocket booster (SRB) and RL10C-1 engine for the Centaur upper stage.

This is the 75th launch of the Atlas V rocket, ULA’s 2nd launch in 2018 and the 125th successful launch since the company was formed in December 2006.

The EELV program was established by the U.S. Air Force to provide assured access to space for Department of Defense and other government payloads. The commercially developed EELV program supports the full range of government mission requirements, while delivering on schedule and providing significant cost savings over the legacy launch systems.

ULA's next launch is the GOES-S mission for NASA and NOAA on an Atlas V rocket. The launch is scheduled for March 1 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

With more than a century of combined heritage, United Launch Alliance is the nation’s most experienced and reliable launch service provider. ULA has successfully delivered more than 120 satellites to orbit that aid meteorologists in tracking severe weather, unlock the mysteries of our solar system, provide critical capabilities for troops in the field and enable personal device-based GPS navigation.
Quelle: ULA

Atlas 5 launches missile-detecting satellite

United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Jan. 19 at 7:48 p.m.ET.


One week after launching a spy satellite from California atop a Delta 4 rocket, United Launch Alliance boosted a missile early warning satellite into space aboard an Atlas 5 booster Friday evening after a sky-lighting launch from Cape Canaveral.

With a crescent moon setting in the west, the Atlas 5's Russian-built RD-180 engine thundered to life at 7:48 p.m. ET, followed an instant later by ignition of a single strap-on solid-fuel booster. Trailing a jet of brilliant exhaust, the 194-foot-tall rocket quickly climbed skyward from complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, arcing away to the east over the Atlantic Ocean.

Liftoff came a day late because of trouble with a liquid oxygen valve in the pad's propellant system, but it was smooth sailing Friday. The strap-on booster burned out and fell away shortly after launch and the ascent continued under the power of the first-stage engine, looking like a fiery "star" in the evening sky.


A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket carrying the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex-41 on Jan. 19 at 7:48 p.m. T.E


The first stage fired normally, falling away four minutes after liftoff, and a little less than 10 minutes after that, the rocket's Centaur second stage completed the first of two firings to put the spacecraft into a preliminary orbit.

A second firing 10 minutes later was designed to put the Space Based Infrared System -- SBIRS -- satellite into an elliptical "transfer" orbit with a high point, or apogee, of around 35,850 miles and a low point, or perigee, of 115 miles.

The satellite's on-board thruster will be fired over the next two weeks to circularize the orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles above the equator. In such geosynchronous orbits, satellites take 24 hours to complete one trip around the planet and thus appear stationary in the sky.

The new satellite will join three other SBIRS (pronounced SIB-ers) spacecraft already in geosynchronous orbit that use telescopes and sophisticated infrared sensors to constantly monitor the world below, on the lookout for the heat generated by a rocket during launch. The SBIRS GEO-4 satellite completes the constellation, providing overlapping global coverage.

The SBIRS system also incorporates data from older Defense Support Program, or DSP, early warning satellites along with stand-alone infrared sensors mounted on other classified military satellites in lower elliptical orbits.


The brilliant plume from the Atlas 5's RD-180 first stage engine competes with the glare from a single strap-on solid-fuel booster as the rocket climbed away from Cape Canaveral.


"Missiles, as they fly, create a heat signature, and certainly our adversaries are moving to make that heat signature smaller and smaller, and we are moving to maintain a capability to detect those as we move forward," Col. Dennis Bythewood, director of the Remote Sensing Systems Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base, told reporters before launch.

"The missile warning constellation, comprised of both the Defense Support Program and the SBIRS satellites, provides that initial warning to our nation's leaders. So whether there be an actual launch or a false indication of a launch, the missile warning architecture is there to provide the true data that allows us to understand what actually happened."

The SBIRS satellites are built by Lockheed Martin, using sensors provided by Northrup Grumman. SBIRS GEO 3 and 4 are valued at $1.2 billion all together, including the costs of the rockets needed to launch them.

"The Defense Support Program has provided missile warning data since 1970," Bythewood said. "It has been the bedrock of our missile warning constellation and continues to provide phenomenal data.


The SBIRS early warning satellites uses sophisticated infrared sensors to look for the heat produced by ballistic and tactical rockets.


"However, the sensors that we have on the SBIRS constellation are leaps and bounds ahead of them in capability, and as we launch those and move them into the constellation, we are able to get dimmer targets and keep pace with the missiles that our adversaries are fielding day-to-day."

Along with detecting intercontinental ballistic missiles, the SBIRS sensors are also able to "see" the heat produced by smaller tactical weapons, improving "battlespace awareness" and providing technical intelligence.

"When the system was originally designed in a Cold War era, we were really worried about the Soviet Union and its allies," Bythewood said before the third SBIRS launch last January. "In today's world, and certainly over the last 20 years, the proliferation of missiles outside of that concentrated area has grown demonstrably.

"Regional systems present in Asia and the Middle East are well within the range of our deployed forces. So the SBIRS constellation is tasked with providing timely, reliable and accurate missile warning information to protect our nation and our troops operating abroad."

Quelle: CBSNews





Tags: Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für Atlas V mit (SBIRS) GEO Flight 4 Satelliten Raumfahrt - Startvorbereitung für Atlas V mit NOAA's GOES-S Satelliten Atlas V to Launch SBIRS GEO Flight 4 for the U.S. Air Force 


Samstag, 20. Januar 2018 - 17:00 Uhr

UFO-Forschung - Projekt Blue Book - Teil-33



The Blue Book case files: UFO treasure or UFO trap?


The Blue Book system contains over 12,000 case les, which include anything from letters from the individuals, who made the sighting, to high level correspondence between various commands discussing the case itself. The electronic les one nds at fold 3 are informative but they are not perfect. Some events are missing and others have been led in the wrong folder. Despite this handicap, one can nd most of the case les and see what e ort, if any, was expended to investigate each report. I can’t say that I have examined every incident but, from what I have examined, I see that many of the them contain insu cient information and quite a few of the investigations were not very good.

Despite the lack of solid information that can be found in these les, some UFO proponents consider them a source of vital informa- tion that contains a great scienti c revelation. Brad Sparks has frequently supported this idea and recently stated:

no one has scienti cally sifted ALL of the 130,000 pages of BB les. You have no idea what is in there and I am telling you it is shocking...1

Exactly what does “scienti cally sifted” mean? The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), which was headed by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, per- formed a “scienti c sifting” in the 1970s. Instead of declaring that what they had found was earth shattering, they simply pointed out how many cases were unidenti ed and produced some statistics. Perhaps, Sparks’ wants a better sifting headed by UFO propo- nents with a more “positive attitude” .

The one item that is indisputable about the Blue Book les is that a certain residue of cases could not be explained. What is in dis- pute is the exact number of unexplained reports.

Possible, Probable, Identi ed

Many of the problems associated with Blue Book had to do with how the system worked. The sta at Blue Book was just a few people with an o cer in charge. They relied upon the UFO o cer at the local Air Force base, or members of the 4602nd Air In- telligence Service Squadron (AISS), to gather all the data and conduct an investigation, which was then forwarded to the Blue Book sta . The amount of information collected and degree of investigation was determined by these o cers. Some were diligent in the conduct of this duty and others were not. The end result is what we see in the Blue Book les. A hodgepodge of incidents that are often confusing, had missing details, and/or lacked adequate investigation.

Using the information they collected, the project Blue Book sta were tasked with the job of identifying what these sightings repre- sented. Over time, they discovered it was di cult to positively identify the source of a sighting based on the limited amount of data that was available. This resulted in Blue Book adopting a degree of certainty scale when identifying the source of the UFO report.

In the Blue Book les, there is the transcript of a brie ng that Captain Ruppelt gave to the Air Defense Command in March 1953. In that brie ng, Ruppelt explained how they determined the level of probability that the incident was explained

In breaking down these reports, we use several degrees of certainty under each category. We’ll take balloons, for example. We will classify them as a known balloon, a probable balloon, or a possible balloon. A known balloon means that we were de nitely able to correlate the facts of the sighting with the data on a balloon track and there is no doubt that the object was a balloon. Probably a balloon means that we were not able to correlate all the data, but there is no doubt in our minds but what the reported object was a balloon. A possible balloon is where we check the report with the balloon data and cannot nd a correlation yet we still believe the object was a balloon. This factor accounts for “lost” balloons, that is, balloons that may have developed slow leaks and oated great distances.2

This methodology could be expanded to astronomical, planes, or other objects. It was subjective but, when examining what the project was trying to accomplish, it was a valid attempt to classify these sightings using the data that was provided.

During the Battelle study, those investigating each case decided to use two levels of classi cation for those cases that were “iden- ti ed”.

All possible identi cations provided in the code system, except INSUFFICIENT INFORMATION and UNKNOWN, could be assigned accord- ing to two degrees of certainty, designated “Certain” and “doubtful”.

A “certain” identi cation indicated a minimum amount of doubt regarding the validity of the evaluation. By “rule of thumb” reasoning, the probability of the identi cation being correct was better than 95 per cent. A “doubtful” identi cation indicated that the choice was less positive, but that there was a better than even chance of being correct. 3

This was another subjective system used to help those evaluating the cases based on the limited data that was available. One might be able to consider the Battelle group’s classi cation of “doubtful” to be equivalent to Ruppelt’s version of “Possible”.

The scientists associated with The University of Colorado UFO project determined that it was not always possible to get a positive identi cation on the source of a UFO report. They came up with classi cation they referred to as “plausibly explained” :

Some investigators take the position that, where a plausible interpretation in terms of commonplace events can be made, then the UFO is regarded as having been identi ed. Others take the opposite view that an UFO cannot be regarded as having been given an ordinary identi cation unless there is complete and binding evidence amounting to certainty about the proposed identi cation... As a practical matter, we take the position that if an UFO report can be plausibly explained in ordinary terms, then we accept that explanation even though not enough evidence may be available to prove it beyond all doubt.4

Again, this is a subjective measure to classify UFO reports. Like Blue Book, they seemed willing to take a “probable” or, perhaps, “possible”, solution and declare it “identi ed”.

All this means is that cases that bear the labels of “probable” or “possible” can be considered explained to a certain degree. For ex- ample, If a case was considered a “possible” meteor, it was usually due to the fact that the witness description indicated a meteor ex- planation was likely but there was no con rming report that a bright meteor was seen by others at the time indicated (see page 27).

Blue Book’s attempts at classifying cases was subject to a lot of criticism from some UFO organizations and scientists, that had a personal belief that UFOs represented something unknown to science. They considered the use of “possible” and “probable” to be totally unsatisfactory.

Criticism of Blue Book’s e orts

Probably the biggest critic of Blue Book was Donald Keyhoe and NICAP. While they ran a negative publicity campaign on the USAF e ort, they also produced a document, which they referred to as their “Best evidence” for UFOs. While it is an interesting listing of UFO cases, quite a few of them were explained by Blue Book. I have also examined other reports in this collection, that were not in the Blue Book system, and found potential explanations for those as well. NICAP failed to achieve its goal of convincing people, outside of the UFO community, with this publication because they padded it with cases that were uncon rmed or could be explained.

While Keyhoe’s organization had some clout, Dr. James McDonald, a prominent atmospheric physicist, was a real driving force in criticism of Blue Book. He quickly took the side that UFO reports were probably observations of alien spacecraft and used his high pro le position to attack Blue Book every chance he could get. In 1967, Dr. McDonald stated:

At Bluebook the most outrageously unscienti c “explanations” were assigned to important sightings. Cases bearing not the slightest resemblance to feathered creatures were called “birds” and some of the most improbable “balloon” phenomena in all the history of ballooning can be found in the Bluebook les. “Astronomical” was tagged onto cases that are no more astronomical than ornitholog- ical, and so it went. The “percentage of unidenti ed” was, by the st of scienti cally untrained Bluebook o cers, steadily “reduced to a minimum.” And science be damned.5

It is important to point out the Dr. McDonald was quite critical of the Air Force in other areas and he created a lot of problems for Major Quintanilla and his boss at ATIC. In this statement, he made some claims that appear exaggerated. McDonald gives the false impression that birds, astronomical, and balloon were used incorrectly to explain a lot of cases. I am sure there were events where the explanations were wrong but, from what I have seen, this was not as widespread as McDonald implied. For instance, I exam- ined the “bird” explanations for 1964-1966. There were 21 cases labeled “birds” between 1964 and 1966. All could have been birds or ocks of birds. Dr. Hynek even agreed with some of these classi cations by initialing the record cards. There is little doubt that Blue Book made mistakes in some of their classi cations. However, McDonald’s reliance on eyewitness testimony as being highly accurate often incorrectly lead him to consider cases, like the Chiles-Whitted sighting, as being evidence of alien spaceships. The pendulum can swing both ways in these arguments.

Despite McDonald’s heavy handed approach, Blue Book still gave him full access to the les in their system. He used these les, along with NICAP’s versions of events, to create a list of “best cases” that he thought would withstand scienti c scrutiny. While he was capable of in uencing many UFOlogists, he was less successful in convincing his fellow scientists. Dr. Carl Sagan wrote the following about McDonald’s e orts:

In the middle 1960s I arranged for McDonald to present his best cases in a private meeting with leading physicists and astronomers who had not staked a claim on the UFO issue. Not only did he fail to convince them that we were being visited by extraterrestrials; he failed even to excite their interest. And this was a group with a very high wonder quotient. It was simply that where McDonald saw aliens, they saw much more prosaic explanations.6

Dr. Jaques Vallee, a French astronomer and UFO proponent, was also critical of Blue Book. His favorite target appeared to be Ser- geant Moody, who was charged with classifying cases in the mid-1960s:

At one time, I joked with Dr. Hynek, I said, “Look, I’m going to write a book called “The Universe According to Sgt. Moody” because it was a remarkable universe where meteors made 90 degree turns, Venus rose in the north, and all kinds of strange things happened”. Comets left depressions in the ground and all sorts of stu . They could explain anything. At one time, Allen Hynek went there and said what about such and such a case, what happened to it? Sgt. Moody said, Well, I have explained it. Oh, well, what was it? He said I’ve explained it as an unknown. As long as I had a statistical category this case was closed. I used to go berserk with that. I would say look, these are the cases you should be passing on to scientists, you should be studying. They said no, it was just an unknown and there’s only 2% unknown, so there’s no reason to be alarmed in any way.7

I nd Vallee’s claims about Moody’s ignorance to physical laws rather interesting because Vallee, Hynek, and McDonald believed that UFOs could defy the laws of physics. The di erence between the Blue Book sta and these scientists is that Blue Book felt these observations of objects performing exotic maneuvers were just inaccurate observations/reports. Based on what we know about eyewitness testimony and UFO reports, Blue Book seems to have been more correct in their approach.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was Blue Book’s scienti c consultant, made additional accusations about Moody:

[Moody] epitomized the conviction-before-trial method. Anything that he didn’t understand or didn’t like was immediately put into the psychological category, which meant “crackpot.” He would not ever say that the person who reported a case was a fairly respectable per- son, maybe we should look into it, or maybe we should nd out. He was also the master of the possible: possible balloon, possible aircraft, possible birds, which then became, by his own hand (and I argued with him violently at times), the probable; he said, well, we have no category “possible” aircraft. It is therefore either unidenti ed or aircraft. Well, it is more likely aircraft; therefore it is aircraft.... An “uniden- ti ed” to Moody was not a challenge for further research. To have it remain unidenti ed was a blot... and he did everything to remove it. He went back to cases from Captain Gregory’s days and way back in Ruppelt’s days and redid the les. A lot that were unidenti ed in those days he “identi ed” years and years later. 8

At no point do we have Hynek or Vallee state any speci c cases where Moody performed these misdeeds. I suppose that it is likely that Moody did reclassify a few cases from the earlier years and he might have stated Venus was the probable source of a sighting when it wasn’t. However, was it really as widespread and agrant as Hynek and Vallee implied?

One of the claims was that Moody was misidentifying Venus when Venus could not be the source. Sergeant Moody served at Blue Book between 1963 and April of 1966, when he retired. I examined all the Venus cases during that time period to see if Moody was overzealous in his classi cation of these cases.


Based on my count, only seven cases were probably not Venus. That is 9% of the sightings. These sightings do have some resem- blance to Venus but there were comments made in these reports, which could not be dismissed as observational errors, that indi- cated it probably wasn’t Venus. I also noticed that the information in some of these reports of “probably not Venus” were confusing making it di cult to determine what was seen.

Then next claim about Moody was that he turned “probable” and “possible” cases into explained cases. I noticed that during 1966, Hynek was personally reviewing some of the case les. He appeared to have approved quite a few possible classi cations using terms such as “likely” and “probably”. Was Hynek just as guilty of declaring a case as identi ed even though the evidence only sug- gested such an explanation was possible but not con rmed? This indicates that this was standard practice at Blue Book and singling out Moody was really not appropriate.10

Another statement by Hynek was Moody’s use of the psychological classi cation. According to the Blue Book records, 23 cases were


labeled as “Psychological/eccentric/imagination” between 1963 and April of 1966.



A common theme in many of these cases is that a spacecraft and/or alien beings were observed at close proximity. Based on ex- amination of these les, many of these cases can be described as “imagination” or “psychological”. I also noticed that at least two of these cases appeared in Hynek’s book, The Hynek UFO report, as examples of Close Encounters. These are the Cisco Grove and Lone Prairie cases. When describing the Cisco Grove case, Hynek described it as “hard to believe” but considered the endorsement of the witness’ story by a local astronomy instructor as important.12 When Dr. Roy Craig examined the case, during the Condon study, he seemed unimpressed and implied that the witness may not have been overly truthful about what transpired.13 As for the Lone Prairie case, I would consider it also hard to believe. The supporting witness testimony may not have been observations of the same object. They certainly did not see the creatures or physical craft the witness reported. Looking at these cases objectively, can we really criticize Moody for being skeptical about the witness’ mental stability?

One of the biggest charges hurled by Hynek was that Moody was going back in the records and reclassifying “a lot” of unexplained cases as “explained”. Hynek did a reevaluation of the Blue Book system back in the 1970s. He published his count of “unknowns” in “The Hynek UFO report”. While the USAF listed 701 “unknowns”, Hynek only listed 640!14 Had Moody done what Hynek stated he had done, then the number of unidenti eds should have increased signi cantly. Instead, they decreased. However, Hynek made it clear it was the 1950s time frame, where Moody did his “dirty work” of “cooking the books. If we exclude 1952, Hynek did reclassify 46 more cases as unknown than Blue Book between the years 1948 and 1961. The greatest increase was 1956-58 (61 vice 38 for BB) Were these 23 extra cases the ones that Moody “ xed” or were they just cases that those present at Blue Book did not classify to Hynek’s liking? Without a detailed account of what cases these were, it is hard to say. However, we can look at the case les and see if there were any changes over the years and what cases were changed.

I focused my attention on the years 1956-8. Interestingly, the number of unknowns changed between 1959 and 1963 before Moody was assigned:


In mid-1964 the USAF started using a new card (FTD Form Sep 63 0-329) for their case les. The previous forms found in the Blue Book les were ATIC form 329 (Rev 26 Sept 52) and AISOP form 5 (15 Oct 54). If there was a wide-spread classi cation of cases in the 1950s as claimed, Moody would have had to write over the existing cards or he would have to replace the cards with the new versions. He could have used old cards prior to the new ones being released or used up existing stock of old cards but, for the pur- poses of examining the claim, I had to use these clues to identify the cases where Moody might have changed the classi cation. If it were widespread, as Hynek indicated, there would have been a signi cant number of cases with these conditions. For the years 1955-1959, I found the following results:


Many of the “new cards” were due to reports made by individuals a decade later in the 1960s. These cards were lled out and placed into the system. In some cases they were labeled “For information only”. Other cards may have been used to replace worn or lost cards. In any case, there were relatively few new cards in the les from the late 1950s. It is interesting to note that one of these cases reported almost a decade later made it into the “Unidenti ed” category even though the card states it should not be really classi ed as such due to the time delay.20 If Hynek’s claims were accurate, one would think Moody would have classi ed it as “insu cient in- formation” or “Psychological” . Somehow, this case got by the eagle eye of Moody and managed to make it into the list of 701 cases!


The pen and ink changes are harder to pinpoint but many of the changes I found had to do with changing one classi cation to another after further review or if new information became available. The following cases were changed from unknown to either insu cient information or identi ed between 1955 and 1959:



The only two cases where we have Moody’s ngerprints are when he was looking into radar cases and sent the report to FTD elec- tronics experts for analysis. Based on this information, it seems that Moody was just doing his job of evaluating old cases to see if the classi cation was correct. Instead of doing it on his own, Moody had formally requested help to evaluate these old cases. There is no indication that his e orts to alter these cases were as nefarious as Hynek tried to portray.

Hynek’s characterization of Moody may have been personal. Major Quintanilla mentioned Hynek’s complaints about Moody in his unpublished manuscript of his time at Blue Book:

He complained to me that Dave Moody was not treating him according to his scienti c stature or some crap like that. I talked to Dave about it the rst couple of times and Dave would come back that he was too busy to baby sit or kiss the Doctor’s ass and that if he would get busy and evaluate the cases that were referred to him, that he wouldn’t have time to worry about scienti c stature. Dr. Hynek and Dave had a thing going and I decided to study it. After I analyzed the situation, I had to agree with Dave. Dr. Hynek would come into the o ce and he would spend the rst couple of hours socializing or gossiping or telling us a lot of nonsense about who was writing books, articles, etc. It was during one of these distracting sessions that I raised my voice and asked Dr. Hynek to con ne his visit to case studies and let the rest of the sta proceed with their work.22

I can relate to Moody’s attitude towards Hynek. As an enlisted man, his main concern was getting the job he was assigned accom- plished. Hynek was apparently distracting him or antagonizing him with his scienti c wisdom about UFOs. During my twenty-plus years in the Navy, I had instances where I was combative with o cers because of what I perceived as their interference with me trying to accomplish my tasks. I was sometimes a bit emotional in my handling of these situations and, in retrospect, I could have handled them better than I did. I suspect that Moody’s confrontations with Hyenk were of similar nature except Hynek was not even in his chain of command. He was a civilian, whose role at Blue Book was that of a consultant. I suspect that Moody probably tolerated Hynek but felt his presence was more annoyance than assistance.

Based on all of this information, can one really consider the opinions of McDonald, Hynek and Vallee as objective? Perhaps they were biased evaluations because the personnel at Blue Book did not hold the same opinion as they did regarding UFOs and/or they did not treat them with the respect they thought they deserved.

Scientists without an ax to grind

While we have heard the claims made by Vallee, McDonald, and Hynek, we have to examine what other scienti c groups stated when they examined the Blue Book system.

The rst examination of UFO cases by a scienti c group was the Robertson panel in January 1953. While UFO proponents proclaim that this was a xed hearing, it did include some prominent scientists, who were experts in their elds and could evaluate the data as it was presented. After seeing some of the best cases that Blue Book had, they stated:

“...that reasonable explanations could be suggested for most sightings and ‘by deduction and scienti c method it could be induced (given additional data) that other cases may be explained in a similar manner...there is no evidence that the phenomena indicates a need for the revision of current scienti c concepts”23

These kinds of comments become a recurring theme in comments made by other scienti c groups, who examined the les. In Project Blue Book’s Special Report #14:

It can never be absolutely proven that “ ying saucers” do not exist. This would be true if the data obtained were to include complete sci- enti c measurements of the attributes of the each sighting, as well as complete and detailed descriptions of the objects sighted. It might be possible to demonstrate the existence of “ ying saucers” with data of the type, IF they were to exist.

Although the reports considered in this study usually did not contain scienti c measurements of the attributes of each sighting, it was possible to establish certain valid conclusions by the application of statistical methods in the treatment of the data. Scienti cally eval- uated and arranged, the data as a whole did not show any marked patterns or trends. The inaccuracies inherent in this type of data, in addition to the incompleteness of a large proportion of the reports, may have obscured any patterns or trends that otherwise would have been evident...

Therefore, on the basis of this evaluation of the information, it is considered to be highly improbable that any of the reports of unidenti- ed aerial objects examined in this study represent observations of technological developments outside the range of present-day scien- ti c knowledge.24

Before the University of Colorado’s UFO Project, there was a panel of scientists who evaluated Blue Book in order to make recom- mendations. They were referred to as the O’Brien committee. According to Quintanilla, they were allowed to review any records that were in the Blue Book les. The six members did review records, interview project personnel, and spent some time questioning Quintanilla. Unlike McDonald, their review did not appear to indicate that the case les contained cases that proved aliens were visiting earth. Instead, the committee wrote the following about the “unidenti ed cases” and if they indicated something exotic:

Although abut 6% (646) of all sightings (10,147) in the years 1947 through 1965 are listed by the Air Force as “Unidenti ed”, it appears to the Committee that most of the cases so listed are simply those in which the information available does not provide an adequate basis for analysis....In 19 years and more than 10,000 sightings recorded and classi ed, there appears to be no veri ed and fully satisfactory evidence of any case that is clearly outside the framework of presently known science and technology. The committed did criticize the classi cation of cases but not for the reasons cited by many UFO proponents....some of the case records which the Committee looked at that were listed as “identi ed” were sightings where the evidence collected was too meager or too inde nite to permit positive listing in the identi ed category.

Again, we get the comment that these reports did not indicate anything “unknown to science” was being seen. Additionally, their assessment of Blue Book implied that a signi cant number of “identi ed” and “unidenti ed” cases might fall into the “insu cient information” category. There just was not enough data in most of the reports to make an accurate assessment of what was seen.

What is an “unknown”?

When it comes to evaluating Blue Book, the arguments usually come down to the cases that were listed as “unknown/unex- plained”. Exactly what fell into this category was described by Ruppelt:

If the report contains a relatively good amount of data, it is then checked against the location of known objects, phenomena, etc. If none of these explain the sighting, it is classed as unknown.26

Quintanilla gave a similar de nition:

A sighting was considered UNIDENTIFIED when a report apparently contained all the data necessary to suggest a valid hypothesis, but its description could not be correlated with any known object or phenomenon.27

Some UFOlogists have taken a di erent approach than Blue Book. They consider cases with probable and possible explanations as not explained and, therefore, they are also “unknowns”:

According to Ruppelt the percentage of Unknowns was 26.94%. A scienti c approach to these gures shows that only 11.21% were actu- ally proven explained (total of column 1 which represents 179 cases) leaving, in actuality, 88.79% unexplained! These Blue Book gures (during the most serious time of it’s life) were based on the then 1,593 sightings the Air Force had studied.

The Condon study disagreed with this mentality that possible and probable explanations are the same as “unknown”. They stated that if an incident can be “plausibly explained”29, then the solution can be accepted. The Robertson panel also suggested the same approach when they mentioned “reasonable explanations” can be used to classify UFO sightings.

UFO proponents often have problems with any “reasonable/plausible explanation” for a UFO case. They will insist that any expla- nation must explain every detail associated with the case even though some of those details may be inaccurate. If UFO reports have taught us anything is that people make mistakes about their observations and these mistakes can hide the source of the UFO sighting. The use of possible or probable explanations seem justi ed as long as there is no good reason to reject that explanation. To put it another way, “If it acts like a balloon and looks like a balloon, it probably is a balloon”.

How many?

The desire to in ate the number of “unknowns” seems to have been a goal of many UFOlogists. They collect UFO cases like they are trading cards or postage stamps and appear to be interested in quantity over quality. In an e ort to make it appear Blue Book was completely incompetent, they claim that there are thousands of “unidenti eds”. This is all based on the statement of Dr. James McDonald,:

The leading alternative to the extraterrestrial hypothesis is that of “misidenti ed natural phenomena,” viewed in terms broad enough to include conventional aircraft, satellites, balloons. The Bluebook position has for years been that UFOs are almost entirely such misiden- ti eds, and Bluebook has repeatedly asserted that their small percentage of unidenti eds would fall into that category if more adequate data were at hand. After studying hundreds of their cases, I do not agree. I say instead that adequate and open-minded scrutiny of the roughly 12,000 cases now on le at Air Force Project Bluebook would probably raise the percentage of unidenti eds from the currently acknowledged few per cent to perhaps 30-40 per cent. 31

While McDonald’s thoroughness is well known, one wonders how he could make this statement without providing evidence of how he arrived at this number. It appears to be more opinion than fact. UFOlogist Brad Sparks thinks the value is a number that McDon- ald arrived at through some form of statistical analysis:

Much more disturbing are the indications from my incomplete review of BB cases that there may be as many as possibly 4,000 Unex- plained UFO cases miscategorized as IFO’s in the BB les. McDonald similarly stated in 1968 at his CASI lecture that from his review of BB cases he estimated that 30-40% of 12,000 cases were Unexplained, or about 3,600 to 4,800 (round down and up to 3,000-5,000). These are mostly military cases and many involve radar. McDonald argued with Hynek on a number of occasions from 1966 onward that the number of Unknowns in the BB les was in reality “about an order of magnitude” greater than what the AF claimed (so instead of 500-600 Unidenti eds possibly as many as 5,000-6,000).

Sparks has spent a great deal of time creating his own list of unknowns. As of 2016, he had a total of 1723 cases out of the 12,618 reports (Sparks states there is something like 15,000 reports). That is only about 14% (less if we use the 15,000 cases described by Sparks). One must realize that Sparks has been working on this list for years and has yet to reach the 30-40% number. It seems that McDonald’s 30-40% is an overin ated number, which was probably meant to make headlines.

Looking at Sparks’ list, I have to think his values are almost as in ated as McDonald’s 30-40%. He lists cases that have reasonable explanations for them, has added cases that have questionable information, and used cases that have very limited data. Based on these characteristics alone, his “unknowns” do not meet the requirements Ruppelt had used to de ne an “unknown”. The key words he used were “a good amount of data” and “if no known objects/phenomena can explain the sighting”. A letter written by some- body to Blue Book a decade after the event happened or a single one or two page teletype message is not what one would consider “a good amount of data”. I also have to question any case where a single witness reports an extraordinary event with little or no con rming evidence. Padding a list with poor quality “unknowns” only hides the truly good cases with a bunch of noise.

While Sparks sees Blue Book as a gold mine of unknowns, other UFOlogists have seen it di erently. Alan Hendry stated the follow- ing about the CUFOS e ort to re-evaluate the Blue Book les:

When the Center made a case by case evaluation of the reports present in the Air Force les, only 5 per cent of them were worthy of the title ‘’UFO.” Almost all of the rest were lFOs.

It seems that how many “unknowns” there are is really based on what de nition one uses. If we stick to how Blue Book de ned it, we have to accept the value of 701 as the o cial value.

The 701

Hynek’s/CUFOS reevaluation of the Blue Book cases indicated that there were only 640 unknowns and not 701. That indicates desire to see how many of the 701 really are “unexplainable”.


Two of these incidents have multiple sightings (Cases 1011 and 1397), which results in them falling into multiple categories.

It seems that there is a certain percentage of these cases that can be explained just like CUFOS discovered. As a result, I continue to look at these “unknowns” to see if there are “reasonable explanations” for them.

The failures of Blue Book

In my opinion, Blue book was unfairly characterized by Vallee, McDonald, and Hynek. Coupling their opinions with the NICAP agenda, there is a mythology concerning Blue Book that persists to this day. There is no doubt that personnel at Blue Book made mistakes but the harsh criticism leveled at them for doing their job, as best they saw it, is unjust. One must remember that, accord- ing to AFR 200-2, Blue Book was given the following two objectives:

The Air Force’s interest in unidenti ed ying objects is twofold: rst as a potential threat to the United States and its forces, and second, to determine the technical aspects involved.35

The technical aspects had to do with discovering some new aviation technology from these observations. At no point did it state they were supposed to perform some detailed scienti c study of the phenomenon. They did try to use all the resources they had at their disposal to identify these cases but the data being provided was the biggest problem. It is probable that, after examining so many cases of misperception, hoax, and wild stories, many of the Blue Book sta began to consider it possible that most cases could be explained. Perhaps, as Special Report 14 stated, those individuals may have become “saturated” :

The reaction, mentioned above, that after reading a few reports, the reader is convinced that “Flying saucers” are real and are some form of sinister contrivance, is very misleading. As more and more of the reports are read, the feeling that “saucers” are real fades, and is re- placed by a feeling of skepticism regarding their existence. The reader eventually reaches a point of a saturation, after which the reports contain no new information at all and are no longer of any interest. 

It would not be surprising that this “saturation” e ect could have contributed to some of the mistakes that were made, which UFO proponents turned into incompetence or some form of grand conspiracy.

Despite the imperfections in the system, Blue Book did manage to properly identify a signi cant percentage of all cases and select- ed those reports they could not explain using their standards. Considering what they had to work with, I think that the sta did a reasonably good job. While their performance was not perfect, it could have been considered satisfactory.


The fact that there are “unexplained/unknown” cases does not mean very much. Are these reports any better than those that state they saw Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, or ghosts? Probably not, which means that an “unexplained/unknown” case is nothing more than something that could not be identi ed. To suggest they are evidence of alien visitation or something unknown to science is a great leap of faith.

It’s a trap!

UFOlogists, who have been examining the Blue Book les for years, are looking for evidence to support their claim that UFOs represent something exotic or unearthly. They appear to be hoping to nd that one magic case that will prove that what they state about UFOs is true or they are trying to accumulate a plethora of cases to create the argument that “all these people can’t be wrong”. In both instances, the results are less than convincing. No single case has su cient information to eliminate the potential for misidenti cation or hoax. Meanwhile, the accumulation of a large quantity of cases invites introduction of poor quality cases that are suspect or have potential explanations. This contaminates the pool and ruins whatever argument the collection is supposed to represent. The bottom line is, other than for historical research, there is no treasure buried in the les. These reports will never provide any convincing evidence that UFOs are something unknown to science. They will only indicate that something was seen that was unidenti able. That makes them a UFOlogical trap.

Quelle: SUNlite 6/2017

Tags: UFO-Forschung - Projekt Blue Book - Teil-33 


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