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February 9, 2003
Re "Uncertain Science in Orbit," Feb. 5: NASA should be directed to conduct only unmanned space exploration. It is cheaper, less complex and will not involve the loss of life. The ongoing Columbia accident investigation boards will come up with some safety recommendations for future space missions. Eventually NASA will drift back into its pre-Columbia ways, there will be another catastrophic accident, and the cycle will repeat itself. The best solution is unmanned space flight. Ronald Hart Palmdale How is it that less than a week after the Columbia disaster an inquiry is up and running, but almost a year and a half later the Bush administration is still dragging its feet over the Sept.
February 7, 2014 | By Jeffrey Fleishman
In an old, whitewashed motel, where folklore has it studio executives once brought their secretaries for "lunch," Robert Greenwald, a mercurial man trailed by insults and death threats, leads a small band of filmmakers dedicated to unnerving political and corporate powers with righteous anger and quick-cut editing. Greenwald embodies the populism of George Bailey and the sly delight of a spy handed a secret dossier. His Brave New Films has skewered Wal-Mart, Fox News (Bill O'Reilly despises him)
September 10, 2008 | Peter Pae, Times Staff Writer
Standing amid a grove of pepper plants in Thousand Oaks last week, Christopher Thompson revved up his plane's tiny 6-inch propeller and then gently tossed it into the sky, much as weekend hobbyists fly their airborne toys. But this mini-aircraft called the Raven, weighing little over 4 pounds and painted in Army gray, is no ordinary model. It is actually a tiny U.S. military spy plane that can hover quietly 500 feet in the air and transmit video images to operators several miles away.
July 18, 2013 | By Rosanna Xia
A submarine designed to explore beneath the ice shelves of Antarctica is taking a detour in Lake Tahoe this week for an unusual expedition. The unmanned vessel is diving more than 1,000 feet to scour the lake's bottom and capture valuable data and high-definition images of an earthquake fault that scientists have wondered about for years. Since 1998, when the West Tahoe fault was first put on the map, engineers have tried different ways to decipher the underwater fault, which they estimate - based on shore studies - is capable of producing a 7.1 to 7.4 magnitude earthquake and tsunamis up to 30 feet high every 2,500 to 4,000 years.
August 20, 1997
Since we have very intelligent unmanned satellites, I have wondered why we need man in space. The Mir space station has provided the answer--to repair the life-support systems. M. EDMUND ELLION Santa Ynez
April 13, 1989
The orbiting Soviet space station Mir will stay in mothballs for three months because of delays in preparing equipment that cosmonauts need to perform experiments aboard the spacecraft, Soviet news reports said. Cosmonauts Alexander Volkov, Sergei Krikalev and Valery Polyakov will return to Earth on April 27, leaving the Mir station unmanned for only the second time since it was launched in February, 1986. "The facility will be left unmanned . . . due to delays with the preparation of two research modules" that will be attached to the main craft, Deputy Flight Director Viktor Blagov told the Tass news agency.
April 30, 2009 | TIMES WIRE REPORTS
Boeing Co. won a contract valued at as much as $250 million from the Pentagon to provide and operate unmanned aircraft for surveillance missions, the Defense Department said. The aerospace company will supply its ScanEagle unmanned aerial vehicles on a fee-for-service basis to the U.S. Special Operations Command, a Boeing spokesman said. Boeing will supply both the operators and drones fitted with sensors and cameras to gather video and still images for the Pentagon, he said. The company already has a similar arrangement with the U.S. Navy.
May 15, 1989 | From Times wire services
Israel said today it will unveil an unmanned remote-control plane, designed for both war and peace, at the Paris air show next month. "The Impact unmanned air vehicle is the most advanced operational reconnaissance UAV in the world," said Rafi Laufer, a deputy general manager at state-owned Israel Aircraft Industries. But it also has great civilian potential in its ability to cruise slowly for up to 12 hours, transmitting television pictures by night or day to controllers directing it up to 90 miles away, he said.
April 19, 2008 | From Times Staff and Wire Reports
NASA has announced a two-year extension of the international Cassini mission that is touring Saturn and its moons. Since 2004, the unmanned probe has beamed back about 140,000 images. Its prime mission is due to end in July. The agency said Tuesday that the $160-million extension would allow Cassini to make 60 more revolutions around the ringed planet and fly by its largest moon, Titan, and four other satellites.
October 5, 1997
Some readers have given expression to shortsighted criticism of NASA's manned programs, such as the Mir missions (letters, Sept. 30). They have failed to consider the value of failure, the experience gained when things go wrong, the skills developed by repairing damaged space structures and renovating "aging" facilities. By giving up too soon, such experience is lost. I would rather more of my tax dollars go to funding manned and unmanned NASA missions. Why not kill all subsidies to tobacco farmers, for example, and fund a trip to the moon?
June 8, 2013 | By Devin Kelly, Los Angeles Times
With tornadoes, advance warning comes down to minutes. In Moore, Okla., on May 20, it was 16 minutes. In Newcastle, to the southwest, near the spot where the deadly mile-wide tornado that killed 24 people first formed, it was five minutes. Tornadoes used to strike without any warning. Since the 1970s, meteorologists have worked to bring the average warning time up to 13 minutes. A combination of weather balloons, radar and on-the-ground observations form the core of today's forecasting technology.
May 3, 2013 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
An aircraft resembling a shark-nosed missile detached from a flying B-52 bomber and then shot above the Pacific Ocean at more than 3,000 mph in a historic test flight for the Air Force - and for the future of aviation. The unmanned X-51A WaveRider sped westward for four minutes, reaching Mach 5.1, or more than five times the speed of sound, before plunging into the ocean as planned. It flew for longer than any other aircraft of its kind and traveled more than 264 miles, reigniting decades-long efforts to develop a vehicle that could travel faster than a speeding bullet.
April 5, 2013 | Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times
Pioneering rocket scientist Yvonne Brill often referred to herself as an "only" - as in the sole woman in the room at a time when female scientists and engineers were exceedingly few. Brill began her career in 1945 and eventually developed a revolutionary propulsion system that remains the industry standard for keeping unmanned spacecraft in constant, stationary orbit. Later in her career, she became the director of the space shuttle's solid rocket motor program for NASA. In the last quarter-century of her life, she strove to help others pursue careers in science and math and especially pushed for women to achieve scientific recognition.
March 20, 2013 | By Brian Bennett, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - As federal authorities accelerate plans to license thousands of surveillance drones over U.S. soil by late 2015, some legal experts and lawmakers are warning that unmanned aircraft could threaten privacy on an unparalleled scale. An opening shot in an expected battle to limit use of domestic drones came Wednesday when 24 civil liberties and privacy organizations submitted a formal petition to U.S. Customs and Border Protection demanding that the agency stop flying 10 unarmed Predator drones along the Mexican and Canadian borders until clear guidelines are established.
August 13, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
Since test pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in 1947, engineers and scientists have dreamed of ever-faster aircraft. Now, they face one of their toughest challenges yet: sustaining hypersonic flight - going five times the speed of sound or more - for more than a few minutes. In a nondescript hangar at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, a team of aerospace engineers has been putting the finishing touches on a lightning-quick experimental aircraft designed to fly above the Pacific Ocean at 3,600 mph. A passenger aircraft traveling at that speed could fly from Los Angeles to New York in 46 minutes.
August 5, 2012 | By Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON - On a chaparral-covered hillside 40 miles north of Los Angeles in June 2010, researchers from the Department of Homeland Security hid a device the size of a pack of cigarettes that emitted a safe pulse of low-grade radiation. It was a stand-in for a dirty bomb, or fallout from a nuclear meltdown. Nearby, a pilot toggled a joystick, and a gray drone with the wingspan of a California condor banked through the sky. As the plane's sensor sniffed for radioactive isotopes, law enforcement officers and firefighters watched a portable controller that looked like an oversized Game Boy. In minutes, a warning signal glowed on the screen.
February 15, 2008 | From Times Wire Services
Boeing Co. named Matthew Ganz president of its Phantom Works research and development unit to replace Bob Krieger, who retired Dec. 31. Phantom Works, based in St. Louis, researches and develops futuristic aircraft designs including the X-48B Blended Wing Body, a 500-pound unmanned test aircraft with a 21-foot wingspan. Ganz, 48, previously was chief executive of HRL Laboratories. HRL is jointly owned by Boeing and General Motors Corp. and conducts research for commercial and government customers including Phantom Works.
March 4, 1986
Some useful facts about the manned space program: In terms of cost spent versus value returned to the public, NASA is the most efficient government agency. The technology developed for the manned space program has led to advanced health-care devices (such as CAT scanners, or Doppler ultrasound stethoscopes), which have saved many lives. The drive to miniaturize electronic components for the space program has given way to the computer revolution, and the technology that has come from the manned space program has helped the United States become the world leader in high technology.
July 29, 2012 | By Brian Bennett, Los Angeles Times
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Strapped into the cockpit of an F-16 jet fighter, Air Force Col. Scott Brenton has dropped bombs over Bosnia, screamed over the desert in Iraq and strafed Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. But on a recent morning, Brenton flew his combat mission from a leather easy chair in a low-slung cinder block building on the edge of Syracuse. Brenton's unit, the 174th Fighter Wing of the New York Air National Guard, traded in its fleet of F-16s for unmanned Reaper drones two years ago. Since then, the reserve pilots have been flying nearly around-the-clock combat operations over Afghanistan from a base about five miles from this city's nearest Wal-Mart.
July 5, 2012 | By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
An expected proliferation of unmanned aircraft in U.S. skies over the next few years is generating concern among civil libertarians and citizens about safety and privacy, and the nation's drone makers are taking heed. The Assn. for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International in Arlington, Va., has published a code of conduct for manufacturers and operators of the thousands of drone aircraft that are expected to be flying in U.S. airspace by 2015. "We want everybody to know that this technology will be handled safely and with the utmost respect to individuals' privacy," said Ben Gielow, the association's general counsel and government relations manager.
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