Russia Makes Veiled Threat to Destroy SpaceX’s Starlink

Russia has issued a veiled threat to “retaliate” against SpaceX’s satellite internet system Starlink for aiding the Ukrainian military.

A Russian representative named Konstantin Vorontsov issued the warning last week at a United Nations working group meeting on reducing space threats.

Vorontsov—who was reportedly a former acting Deputy Director of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Department—didn’t name SpaceX or Starlink by name. But he noted: “We would like to underline an extremely dangerous trend that goes beyond the harmless use of outer space technologies and has become apparent during the events in Ukraine. Namely, the use by the United States and its allies of the elements of civilian, including commercial, infrastructure in outer space for military purposes,” according to the unofficial translation  of his statement.

Vorontsov then issued his veiled threat by saying: “It seems like our colleagues do not realize that such actions in fact constitute indirect involvement in military conflicts. Quasi-civilian infrastructure may become a legitimate target for retaliation.”

https://www.pcmag.com/

Mach 4 Portable Missile Delivered to Ukrainian Army

Military experts believe footage of a Russian helicopter being blown out of the sky by a missile in Ukraine shows a British-made weapons system in action. In March, the UK government announced it may send Starstreak, a form of man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS), to Ukraine to help the country defend itself against the Russian invasion. UK defence minister Ben Wallace insisted the technology falls within the definition of defensive weapons, as he confirmed on March 16 to the BBC the UK was sending the weapon to Ukraine. A video circulating on social media shows a helicopter being hit by a missile, reportedly in the Luhansk region, in the east of Ukraine.

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Starstreak is a highly portable, short-range air-defence system, manufactured in the UK. The manufacturer, the french company Thales, says the weapon is “optimised to provide defence against air threats including fixed-wing Fighter Ground Attack aircraft and late unmasking Attack Helicopters“. It can be moved by a person (in the MANPAD role) or mounted onto a vehicle, making it highly flexible and adaptable to different battlefield situations.

One of the standout features is the speed of the projectiles fired from the system. Thales says the missile is made up of three tungsten darts, which reach speeds in excess of Mach 3 (more than 3,700 km per hour). According to multiple sources including Defence News, this makes STARStreak the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world.

https://www.euronews.com

SpaceX Sent Starlink Internet Terminals to Ukraine

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk sent a truckload of Starlink antennas — which can be used to connect to the company’s satellite-based internet service — to Ukraine this week, responding to a plea from the country’s vice prime minister amid fears that Ukrainians could lose internet access if Russia continues its attacks on communication infrastructure. But using satellite services can be dangerous in wartime, as evidenced by a history of states using satellite signals to geolocate and target enemies, cybersecurity experts said.

If an adversary has a specialized plane aloft, it can detect [a satellite] signal and home in on it,” Nicholas Weaver, a security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, explained via email.

It isn’t necessarily easy, but the Russians have a lot of practice on tracking various signal emitters in Syria and responding. Starlink may work for the moment, but anyone setting a [Starlink] dish up in Ukraine needs to consider it as a potential giant target.

In short: “It may be useful, but for safety’s sake you don’t want to set it (or really any distinctive emitter) up in Ukraine anywhere close to where you would not want a Russian bomb dropping,” Weaver said.
Shortly after this story was originally published, Musk also weighed in on Twitter, saying “Important warning: Starlink is the only non-Russian communications system still working in some parts of Ukraine, so probability of being targeted is high. Please use with caution.”
He went on to advise users in Ukraine to “turn on Starlink only when needed and place antenna away as far away from people as possible,” and to “place light camouflage over antenna to avoid visual detection.”

Russia’s Sputnik V Coronavirus Vaccine 92% Effective

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine is 92% effective, its developers said as the global race heats up over mass vaccination to slow the spread of the pandemic that has killed nearly 1.3 million people and battered economies worldwide.

Interim results showed that 20 of the 16,000 volunteers who received both Sputnik V doses have contracted Covid-19, the Russian Health Ministry, state-run Gamaleya research center and Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said in a statement.

As a result of a statistical analysis of 20 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicates that the Sputnik V vaccine had an efficacy rate of 92% after the second dose,” the statement said.

More than 20,000 volunteers have received the first dose of Sputnik V as of Wednesday, according to Gamaleya, the Health Ministry and RDIF.

The developers said that “some” of the volunteers experienced short-term “pain at the injection site [and] flu-like syndrome including fever, weakness, fatigue and headache.” They noted that these adverse effects were expected. Sputnik V’s final, or Phase 3, trials involve a total of 40,000 volunteers at around two dozen Moscow clinics.

Separate Sputnik V injections being administered to medics and other at-risk groups outside Moscow demonstrated the vaccine’s efficacy rate of over 90%, the developers said. Officials in the Altai region of Siberia reported earlier that three out of the 42 medics who received the adenovirus vector-based vaccine there ended up contracting Covid-19.

Source: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/

Coronavirus: Russian vaccine shows signs of immune response

Russian scientists have published the first report on their coronavirus vaccine, saying early tests showed signs of an immune response.
The report published by medical journal The Lancet said every participant developed antibodies to fight the virus and had no serious side effects. Russia licensed the vaccine for local use in August, the first country to do so and before data had been published.

Experts say the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety. But Moscow has hailed the results as an answer to critics. Some Western experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia’s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners.

Last month, President Vladimir Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks and that one of his own daughters had been given it. Two trials of the vaccine, named Sputnik-V, were conducted between June and July, The Lancet paper said. Each involved 38 healthy volunteers who were given a dose of the vaccine and then a booster vaccine three weeks later.
The participants – aged between 18 and 60 – were monitored for 42 days and all of them developed antibodies within three weeks. Among the most common side effects were headaches and joint pain. The trials were open label and not randomised, meaning there was no placebo and the volunteers were aware they were receiving the vaccine.

https://www.bbc.com/

Coronavirus: Sputnik-V Vaccine Has Been Approved For Use

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said a locally developed vaccine for Covid-19 has been given regulatory approval after less than two months of testing on humans. Mr Putin said the vaccine had passed all the required checks, adding that his daughter had already been given it. Officials have said they plan to start mass vaccination in October.

Experts have raised concerns about the speed of Russia‘s work, suggesting that researchers might be cutting corners. Amid fears that safety could have been compromised, the World Health Organization (WHO) urged Russia last week to follow international guidelines for producing a vaccine against Covid-19. On Tuesday, the WHO said it had been in talks with Russian authorities about undertaking a review of the vaccine, which has been named Sputnik-V.

https://www.bbc.com/

Russian COVID-19 vaccine approval imminent

Russia’s first potential COVID-19 vaccine will win local regulatory approval in the first half of August and be administered to frontline health workers soon afterwards, a development source close to the matter told Reuters. A state research facility in Moscow – the Gamaleya Institute – completed early human trials of the adenovirus-based vaccine this month and expects to begin large-scale trials in August.

The vaccine will win regulatory approval from authorities in Russia while that large-scale trial continues, the source said, highlighting Moscow’s determination to be the first country in the world to approve a vaccine. The speed at which Russia is moving to roll out the vaccine has prompted some Western media to question whether Moscow is putting national prestige before solid science and safety.

(Regulatory) approval will be in the first two weeks of August,” the development source said. “August 10 is the expected date, but it will definitely be before August 15. All (trial) results so far are highly positive.”

The source added that Russian health workers treating COVID-19 patients will be offered the chance of volunteering to be vaccinated soon after the vaccine receives the regulatory approval. Separately, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited “an informed source” as saying the vaccine would be registered from Aug. 10-12 and be administered from Aug. 15 onwards.

https://reuters.com/

Russian Nuclear Missiles That Travel 20 times The Speed Of Sound

Russia’s first regiment of Avangard hypersonic missiles has been put into service, the defence ministry says. The location was not given, although officials had earlier indicated they would be deployed in the Urals. President Vladimir Putin has said the nuclear-capable missiles can travel more than 20 times the speed of sound and put Russia ahead of other nations. They have a “glide system” that affords great manoeuvrability and could make them impossible to defend against.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed the “Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle entered service at 10:00 Moscow time on 27 December“, calling it a “landmark“. Mr Putin said on Tuesday the Avangard system could penetrate current and future missile defence systems, adding: “Not a single country possesses hypersonic weapons, let alone continental-range hypersonic weapons.”

The West and other nations were “playing catch-up with us“, he said. Mr Putin unveiled the Avangard and other weapons systems in his annual state-of-the-nation address in March 2018, likening it to a “meteorite” and a “fireball“. In December 2018, the weapon hit a practice target 6,000km (3,700 miles) away in a test launch at Dombarovskiy missile base in the southern Ural Mountains.

The Avangard is invulnerable to intercept by any existing and prospective missile defence means of the potential adversary,” Mr Putin said after the test.

Mounted on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Avangard can carry a nuclear weapon of up to two megatons. Russia’s defence ministry has released video of the Avangard system, but weapons experts have expressed scepticism about its effectiveness.

In a statement, the Pentagon said it would “not characterise the Russian claims” about the Avangard‘s capabilities. The US has its own hypersonic missile programme, as does China, which in 2014 said it had conducted a test flight of such as weapon.

Source: https://www.bbc.com/

China Now Launches More Rockets Than Anyone In The World

In recent weeks, China‘s space program has made news by revealing some of its long-term ambitions for spaceflight. These include establishing an Earth-Moon space economic zone by 2050, which, if successful, could allow the country to begin to dictate the rules of behavior for future space exploration. Some have questioned whether China, which has flown six human spaceflights in the last 16 years, can really build a large low-Earth space station, send taikonauts to the Moon, return samples from Mars, and more in the coming decade or two. But what seems clear is that the country’s authoritarian government has long-term plans and is taking steps toward becoming a global leader in space exploration.

By one important metric—orbital launchesChina has already reached this goal. In 2018, the country set a goal of 35 orbital launches and ended up with 39 launch attempts. That year, the United States (29 flights) and Russia (20) trailed China, according to Space Launch Report. It marked the first time China led the world in the number of successful orbital launchesThis year, China is set to pace the world again. Through Sunday, the country has launched 27 orbital missions, followed by Russia (19), and the United States (16). Although nearly a month and a half remain in this year, a maximum of six additional orbital launches are likely from the United States in 2019.

To be fair, China’s space launch program has not been without hiccups. The country’s space program is still trying to bring its large Long March 5 vehicle back into service after a catastrophic failure during just its second mission, in July 2017. And the country had three failures in 2018 and 2019, compared to just one in the United States and Russia combined.

The United States has taken a step back this year in part due to decreased activity by SpaceX. The company launched a record 21 missions last year but has so far launched 11 rockets in 2019. A flurry of missions remains possible in the next six weeks for the company, including a space station resupply mission in early December, a commercial satellite launch, and additional Starlink flights.

Another big factor has been a slow year for United Launch Alliance. The Colorado-based company has launched just two Delta IV-Medium rockets this year, one Delta IV-Heavy, and a single Atlas V mission. The company may launch Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft before the end of 2019, giving the Atlas V rocket a second launch. It is possible that Rocket Lab, which has flown its Electron rocket from New Zealand five times in 2019 and is planning at least one more mission before the end of the year, will have more launches than United Launch Alliance for the first time. Sometime next year, Rocket Lab should also begin to add to the US tally for orbital launches as it opens a new facility at Wallops Island, Virginia.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/

Russia’s Secret Intelligence Agency Hacked: ‘Largest Data Breach In Its History’

Red faces in Moscow this weekend, with the news that hackers have successfully targeted FSBRussia‘s Federal Security Service. The hackers managed to steal 7.5 terabytes of data from a major contractor, exposing secret FSB projects to de-anonymize Tor browsing, scrape social media, and help the state split its internet off from the rest of the world. The data was passed to mainstream media outlets for publishing.

FSB is Russia’s primary security agency with parallels with the FBI and MI5, but its remit stretches beyond domestic intelligence to include electronic surveillance overseas and significant intelligence-gathering oversight. It is the primary successor agency to the infamous KGB, reporting directly to Russia’s president.

A week ago, on July 13, a hacking group under the name 0v1ru$ that had reportedly breached SyTech, a major FSB contractor working on a range of live and exploratory internet projects, left a smiling Yoba Face on SyTech’s homepage alongside pictures purporting to showcase the breach. 0v1ru$ had passed the data itself to the larger hacking group Digital Revolution” , which shared the files with various media outlets and the headlines with Twitter—taunting FSB that the agency should maybe rename one of its breached activitiesProject Collander”.

BBC Russia broke the news that 0v1ru$ had breached SyTech‘s servers and shared details of contentious cyber projects, projects that included social media scraping (including Facebook and LinkedIn), targeted collection and the “de-anonymization of users of the Tor browser.” The BBC described the breach as possibly “the largest data leak in the history of Russian intelligence services.”

As well as defacing SyTech‘s homepage with the Yoba Face0v1ru$ also detailed the project names exposed: “Arion“, “Relation“, “Hryvnia,” alongside the names of the SyTech project managers. The BBC report claims that no actual state secrets were exposed.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/