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An experimental reusable rocket made by Space Exploration Technologies Corp. exploded over Texas on Friday, the company announced.

The test booster, known as the F9R and a successor to the Grasshopper rocket, self-destructed several hundred feet over the company’s facility in McGregor after a problem was detected. There were no injuries.

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Navy ExoskeletonThe Pentagon has acquired two high-tech exoskeletons designed to make it much easier for Navy shipyard workers to suspend and hold heavy hand-held tools such as riveters, grinders and sanders.

The so-called FORTIS exoskeleton is an unpowered, lightweight exoskeleton that increases an operator’s strength and endurance by transferring the weight of heavy loads from the user’s body directly to the ground, said Adam Miller, director of new initiatives at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control.

“We’ve been working on exoskeleton technology for over five years. There is interest in enhancing productivity and reducing the time a ship might need to be maintained,” he said. [Continue reading…]

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Syrian chemical agents destruction

After patiently sitting in port for months, the specially outfitted U.S. container vessel MV Cape Ray only took weeks to decimate Syria’s chemical weapon precursors.

The 648-long-ship in January set sail from Portsmouth, Virginia, to the Mediterranean Sea, but was forced to spend months in Rota, Spain, waiting for Syria to turn over its stockpile of deadly chemicals.

The vessel in early July began dismantling some 600 tons of a nerve gas precursor and 20 tons of a mustard agent using a process called hydrolysis, which uses water and other reactants to neutralize and break down the chemicals. The work, which took place in international waters in the Med, wrapped up this week. [Continue reading…]

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140807-N-CS564-078The commander on board the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier overseeing the ongoing airstrikes in Iraq said Navy F/A-18s have flown at least 30 bombing missions against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, targets.

Thus far, Navy planes have destroyed ISIL mobile artillery positions, convoys and other strategic targets including vehicles and equipment captured by ISIL, said Navy Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Two told reporters by phone from the Arabian Gulf.

The Navy F/A-18s are configured with a host of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons such as the GBU-54 500-pound laser-guided bombs dropped in Iraq.  Laser-guided bombs can be guided by a laser-designation from the air or nearby ground forces. The GBU-54s dropped in Iraq are known as Laser Joint Direct Attack Munitions or LJDAMS, which rely on GPS guidance to pinpoint their targets.

The GBU 54 is a 581-pound glide bomb with a range of up to 15 nautical miles, service officials said. The weapon uses semi-active laser guidance as well as GPS and inertial navigation systems. [Continue reading…]

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140619-N-ZZ999-167The Navy and Raytheon recently test-fired a Standard Missile-6 against a low-flying subsonic cruise missile target over land Aug. 14, at White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

“The test was the Navy’s attempt to demonstrate an intercept of a subsonic, low-altitude target over land, and it did just that,” said CMDR. Sidney Hodgson, deputy program manager for standard missiles.

The test-firing was the second in a series of ten planned tests for the SM-6 during what’s called the Follow-On Test and Evaluation, or FOT&E phase, which is slated to finish in 2016, Raytheon and Navy officials said.

In development for seven years, the SM-6 achieved initial operating capability in 2013. The weapon is designed to provide defensive intercept capability and offensive fire power against anti-ship cruise missiles, fixed and rotary wing aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The weapon is also slated to perform terminal phase ballistic missile defense. [Continue reading…]

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