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French justice ministry hit by cyberattack, investigation ongoing

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(Last Updated On: January 29, 2022)

France’s justice ministry on Friday was hit by a cyberattack of unknown scale and an investigation has been launched, news agency AFP reported, citing multiple sources.

“There was something, but not of large extent, no criminal files have been affected”, a report cited a source close to the investigation as saying.

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US spy satellite launched into orbit from California

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2022)

A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday.

The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County, AP reported.

It was the last launch of a Delta 4 from the West Coast. Additional launches are planned from Florida before the Deltas are replaced by ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets.

The Delta IV Heavy configuration first launched in December 2004. This was the 387th flight of a Delta rocket since 1960 and the 95th and final launch from Vandenberg.

The National Reconnaissance Office is the government agency in charge of developing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. spy satellites that provide intelligence data to policymakers, the intelligence community and Defense Department.

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NASA delays moon rocket launch due to potential hurricane

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(Last Updated On: September 25, 2022)

NASA is skipping next week’s launch attempt of its new moon rocket Artemis 1 because of a tropical storm that’s expected to become a major hurricane.

It’s the third delay in the past month for the lunar-orbiting test flight featuring mannequins but no astronauts, a follow-up to NASA’s Apollo moon-landing program of a half-century ago. Hydrogen fuel leaks and other technical issues caused the previous scrubs, AP reported.

Currently churning in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ian is expected to become a hurricane by Monday and slam into Florida’s Gulf coast by Thursday. The entire state, however, is in the cone showing the probable path of the storm’s center — including NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

Given the forecast uncertainties, NASA decided Saturday to forgo Tuesday’s planned launch attempt and instead prepare the 98-meter rocket for a possible return to its hangar.

Managers will decide Sunday whether to haul it off the launch pad.

If the rocket remains at the pad, NASA could try for an October 2 launch attempt, the last opportunity before a two-week blackout period. But a rollback late Sunday or early Monday likely would mean a lengthy delay for the test flight, possibly pushing it into November.

The Space Launch System rocket is the most powerful ever built by NASA. Assuming its first test flight goes well, astronauts would climb aboard for the next mission in 2024, leading to a two-person moon landing in 2025.

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NASA’s DART mission to collide with an asteroid

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(Last Updated On: September 24, 2022)

A NASA spacecraft will deliberately slam into an asteroid called Dimorphos in the early hours of Tuesday morning to see if this kind of kinetic impact can help deflect an asteroid posing a threat to Earth.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART, spacecraft is about the size of a school bus, CNN reported.

It has been traveling to reach its asteroid target since launching in November 2021 and will arrive at the asteroid system at 03:44 Tuesday Kabul time.

“We are moving an asteroid,” said Tom Statler, NASA program scientist for the DART mission. “We are changing the motion of a natural celestial body in space. Humanity has never done that before.”

The spacecraft is heading for a double-asteroid system, where a tiny “moon” asteroid, named Dimorphos, orbits a larger asteroid, Didymos.

Didymos. which means “twin” in Greek, is roughly 780 meters in diameter. Dimorphos measures 160 meters across, and its name means “two forms.”

At the time of impact, Didymos and Dimorphos will be relatively close to Earth — within 11 million kilometers, CNN reported.

The spacecraft is about 100 times smaller than Dimorphos, so it won’t obliterate the asteroid. Instead, DART will try to change the asteroid’s speed and path in space.

A briefcase-size satellite from the Italian Space Agency is traveling behind DART to record what happens from a safe perspective.

Three minutes after impact, the satellite, LICIACube, will fly past Dimorphos to capture images and video of the impact plume and maybe even spy on the impact crater.

The images and video, while not immediately available, will be streamed back to Earth in the days and weeks following the collision.

The James Webb Space Telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Lucy mission will observe the impact.

No asteroids are currently on a direct impact course with Earth, but more than 27,000 near-Earth asteroids exist in all shapes and sizes.

The valuable data collected by DART will contribute to planetary defense strategies, especially the understanding of what kind of force can shift the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid that could collide with our planet.

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