National Space Defense Center Transitions to 24/7 Operations

Less than a year after changing the name of the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center to the National Space Defense Center (NSDC), the NSDC transitioned to 24/7 operations Jan. 8, marking a significant step for the expanding interagency team focused on protecting and defending the nation’s critical space assets. The NSDC directly supports unified space defense efforts and expands information sharing in space defense operations among the DoD, the National Reconnaissance Office, and other interagency partners.

Northrop Grumman to Form Innovation Systems Business Unit

Northrop Grumman announced it will stand up a new innovation systems business unit following its $9.1 billion purchase of Orbital ATK, which is expected to close in the first half of 2018. Blake Larson, Orbital’s COO, has been chosen to lead the innovation systems business.

Orbital ATK to Research Hypersonic Engines with DARPA

DARPA’s Advanced Full Range Engine (AFRE) program has called on Orbital ATK to help study the use of turbine and hypersonic engines in a new jet propulsion system. If successful, the engine will be able to operate in a range of speeds, from low-speed runway takeoff to hypersonic flight. Orbital ATK maintains multiple hypersonic test facilities on the East Coast and offers custom testing for the developing technology.

DARPA Exploring DNA as Molecular Computing Platform

DARPA is investigating DNA as a possible molecular computing platform capable of storing, retrieving, and processing massive data collections much faster than traditional electronics. One University of Washington computer science team wants to create a DNA-based image search engine by coding image features into DNA strings. Users would type in a coded query to extract sequences that match the query using magnetic nanoparticles. A sequencer and a few more algorithms would turn those sequences back into visible images. Other researchers are investigating atoms, ions, photons, electrons, and even organic compounds as potential data processors.

Google’s Lunar Xprize to End Without Winner

More than 10 years since its introduction, Google’s Lunar Xprize challenge for companies to land spacecraft on the moon will end with no viable winner. The four teams in competition either lack the capital to continue development or are not ready to launch this year. Google, which extended the challenge deadline from 2014 to 2015 to 2018, does not plan to allow another extension, and says it is pleased with the groundbreaking progress and companies that formed as a result of the competition.

USGIF and Hexagon Offer Software Grants to Universities

USGIF has partnered with Hexagon Geospatial to offer software licenses to 14 universities and colleges. Students and faculty at USGIF-accredited schools will receive three years of free access to Hexagon’s desktop and cloud-based Smart M.App software. Smart M.Apps are interactive mapping tools designed to help build geospatial cloud applications by combining content, analysis, and workflows.

Peer Intel

The White House reports President Trump will appoint Suzette Kent, a principal at professional services firm EY, as federal chief intelligence officer. She’ll be appointed as administrator of the Office of Management and Budget’s office of electronic government, where she’ll oversee cybersecurity and IT management regulations.

Kent Matlick, senior vice president and general manager of Vencore’s intelligence group, was named to the Intelligence and National Security Alliance’s new advisory committee. 

Vice Adm. Jan Tighe, the Navy’s director of intelligence, recently submitted her retirement paperwork. Nominated for her position is Vice Adm. Matthew Kohler, former commander of the Naval Information Forces Command.

Photo Credit: Dennis Wise/University of Washington

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