From the Flickr stream of the President of Ecuador. SRSLY!!!!!
Note — See corrections at the end.
In their ongoing quest to secure a US government relationship for their Super Tucano turboprop aircraft, Brazillian firm Embraer is partnering with American firm Sierra Nevada to compete for a contract to build 20 trainers and counter-insurgency planes for Afghan pilots at the behest of the American military, as well as 15 craft for the US Air Force to use in the same capacity.
First, El Salvador: The Brazilian Super Tucano is a turboprop plane designed for low-level, low-speed anti-insurgency and ground support missions. The El Salvadoran government was due to buy 8-10 of the planes, which were intended to assist El Salvador’s mounting commitments to fight drug trafficking on the borders, target illegal drug crops, and maintain security around prisons, as well as (to translate roughly), “help with security on the streets.” Creepy, much? (READ MORE)
Image from the Fredricksburg Free-Lance Star (uncredited on that site, so...photographer unknown).
Lindley Estes at the Fredricksburg (Virginia) Free Lance Star reports that a team from tandem skydiving outfit Skydive Orange set a new world record for an all-female head-down formation skydive, with 41 women jumping and joining hands in midair. This is quite a feat, given that only 15% of the members of the US Parachute Association are women.
Northern Irish pilot and cancer survivor Norman Surplus is back home in Larne, Northern Ireland, after surviving a crash in Thailand and making it to the Philippines.
He’s flying his amazing yellow autogyro, the G-YROX, around the world. You can help by following his progress on his Facebook page and donating to his effort. News about the voyage:
During take-off from a small airstrip at Nong Prue in Thailand, Norman and his gyro fell out of the sky. Thankfully Norman wasn’t hurt but his trusty GYROX ended up in a bad way. It took a while but repairs to the aircraft were eventually completed and a very relieved Norman set off once again on his journey. He reached the Philippines before red tape and bad weather called a halt on his progress for this year. He’s now back in Larne but come Spring 2011, he’ll be back in the Far East to restart his flight from where he left off.
Orbiter Mini-UAV on launch. Photo (c) 2005 Tal Tikotzki, from the Aeronautics Systems Ltd website.
Despite the hard border between the US and Mexico, El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico, are so intimately intertwined as to almost be one city. They’re across the Rio Grande from one another, but they still feel bizarrely contiguous. Driving along the highway skirting El Paso, the delineation is shocking; at numerous points you can see the ramshackle turquoise houses of Juarez on one side and the strip-malls of El Paso on the other. In fact, the original name of Juarez was El Paso del Norte (which means “The North Pass,” to El Paso’s “The Pass”).
So it’s not that surprising that a Mexican surveillance drone has crashed in El Paso, Texas. It’s strangely telling that the model was an Orbiter UAV manufactured by the Israeli Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd.
It’s as if the thing rolled off its assembly line wanting to be a poster-child of border-patrol militarization and globalization. Plus, the Mexican government originally denied the drone’s Mexican origin (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)
Soyuz TMA-18 launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in April, 2010. Public domain NASA image.
As you probably know, the US Space Shuttle program will call it quits next summer with STS-135, planned for June, 2011. However, the US space program isn’t calling it quits at that time; NASA plans to continue sending astronauts and materiel to the International Space Station using commercial carriers. The ISS is expected to remain in operation until at least 2015 and probably 2020; NASA plans to save US taxpayers about a gajillion dollars using private contractors, which is roughly the amount Dick Cheney planned to save by using Blackwater to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wait, did I say that out loud? Sorry, sorry, let me take off my snarky left wing fart-sniffer acey-deucey off and don my credulous space-nerd propeller beanie that celebrates all things post-terrestrial.
There; that’s so much better. What I meant to say, of course, is that NASA is privatizing its journeys to the ISS because that’s the best way to encourage scientific and engineering innovation.
The problem? Those commercial carriers don’t exist yet. Until they do, NASA’s going to have to keep sending Americans skyward on Russian Soyuz rockets. That costs tens of millions of dollars per person.