February 22, 2013

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: FBI probe of defense tech allegedly leaked from NASA stonewalled, sources say. “The claims originate with several past and current NASA employees concerned with the systemic leak of highly sensitive information relating to missile defense systems, as well as what they call a troubled investigation into the leak. . . . The accusations stem from a reported violation of the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR), which governs the export of defense weaponry. In 2006, Ames adapted specialized rocket engines — originally developed for the Pentagon missile defense “Kinetic Kill Vehicle” program — for a moon lander prototype that ultimately became NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE). The robotic moon orbiter is set to launch on Aug. 12, 2013. Information on guidance and terrain-mapping systems from the Tomahawk cruise missile and a radar from the F-35 were also shared, according to one report in Aviation Week.”

UPDATE: A reader who asks anonymity emails: “I hear a different story about the ‘leak’ at Ames. My sources suggest this is a fairly transparent attempt by Bolden (NASA Administrator) to oust Pete Worden.” He’s a guy I trust, so factor this in.