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Middle East, Space Taxis, Pakistan

Dated: 17 Sep 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, New Markets, Security, Technology

Middle East: General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee he did not rule out the possibility of sending American combat troops to fight ISIS.  The realities of a prolonged campaign, General Dempsey said, could make such a hands-off approach untenable, particularly if the battle against the militants moves into densely populated cities where airstrikes are less effective and the chances of civilian casualties are much higher.  Additionally, the sectarian divide is causing some issues in building the Arab coalition that will ultimately be responsible for stabilizing their region.  With the Sunni camp being led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE and the Shiite’s being led by Iran and Iraq, the question remains as to whether or not they will be able to put aside their sectarian differences and unite against the existential threat to the region.

Space Taxis: Boeing and SpaceX will partner with NASA to manufacture and operate “space taxis” to transport astronauts to the International Space Station. Officials say the partnership will end U.S. dependence on Russian space transport.  By flying astronauts commercially from the United States, NASA could end Russia’s monopoly on space station crew transport. The agency pays $70 million per person for rides on Russian Soyuz capsules, the only flights available for astronauts since the retirement of the U.S. space shuttle fleet in 2011.  Additionally, the companies retain ownership of their vehicles and can sell rides to customers outside of NASA, including private tourists.

Pakistan: Al Qaeda militants tried to hijack a Pakistan Navy frigate earlier this month and use it to target U.S. Navy vessels.  While the plot was foiled, the raid, in which 10 militants and one petty officer died, raised fears about terrorist infiltration of the nuclear-armed nation’s military forces.  “If they hadn’t been detected, the minimal damage would have been similar to the USS Cole in 2000. However, if they had somehow managed to maneuver the weapons systems, then we are talking about a full scale naval engagement,” said Pakistani security official.

Middle East, Electronic Nose, Jetpack

Dated: 12 Sep 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Technology

Middle East: In a televised national address outlining his strategy to combat ISIS, President Barack Obama said he had authorized U.S. airstrikes for the first time in Syria, as well as more attacks in Iraq in a broad escalation of a campaign against the militant group.  For many Arabic governments being asked to join the cause, a request to commit forces is considered likely to be met with deep reservations.  For Saudi Arabia, in particular, the stakes are high in the campaign against Islamic State, which has vowed carry its fight to the kingdom’s monarchy. But as one of the leading Sunni Muslim states, Saudi Arabia is hesitant to commit its troops to a war against fellow Sunni Muslims, however extreme they might be, for fear it would generate a domestic backlash.

Electronic Nose: Researchers have developed a prototype electronic “nose” to detect chemical warfare gases such as Sarin, Soman, and Tabun. The nose is composed of 15 sensors, a data acquisition system, and a computer connected to the system. Through the sensors, the nose “smells” gases in the atmosphere and further processes the data to warn of the presence of a gas. The system can be portable for use in areas where a chemical attack is suspected, or fixed for continuous monitoring of environments such as airports.

Jetpack: What if every soldier could run a four-minute mile? That’s the goal behind 4MM, or 4 Minute Mile, a student project to create a wearable jetpack that enhances speed and agility. Working with the DARPA and a faculty mentor at ASU, Jason Kerestes is the mastermind behind 4MM. He built a prototype of the jetpack and is now testing and refining his design to be as effective as possible.  This is different than the Martin Jetpack, produced by the UAE which can travel at a cruising speed of 100kph and reach heights of 1,500 meters.  The video can be seen here.