The Space Shuttle's
Secret Military Mission
Astronaut Ilan Ramon Spied On Iraq With A Multispectral Camera.
Were Spectral Emissions From The Shuttle Powered By Americium-242?

By Yoichi Clark Shimatsu
From <>The Laissez Faire Electronic Times

Night vision actively makes visible things hidden in darkness. It is a subliminal technology that projects an infrared beam onto obscure objects, which appear through digital lenses as phosphorescent ghost-like images. Conventional optical devices, in contrast, are passive, receiving light from external sources such as stars and street lamps or the sunlight reflected off surfaces. Telescopes, even powerful ones, become grainy in low-light, low-contrast situations.
This is why farmers and sawmills around the world burn their fields and scrap wood on damp days. Optical air-pollution monitors in nearby towns cannot detect the smoke plumes through the mist. Likewise, anyone trying to dispose of waste gases - from chemical-weapons laboratories, for instance - uses the same technique of releasing emissions under cloud cover or at nighttime to evade detection by spy satellites.
The only way to spot such "smoking-gun evidence," as in the case of Iraq's alleged chemical weapons program, is to mount a beam-generating technology, basically a souped-up version of night vision, on to a platform circling over the suspect territory.
Thus, for 16 days in orbit, Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon made earth observations with a cluster of instruments, which NASA called "a multi-spectral telescope." Designed to survey the air quality over the deserts of the Middle East, his "telescope" was built by a research team at Tel Aviv University and a U.S. company, Orbital Sciences Corp. His research project was called MEIDEX (Mediterranean-Israel dust experiment).[1]
According to Israel Line magazine, MEIDEX "called for Ramon to observe and take pictures of atmospheric aerosols in the Mediterranean area using ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared array-detector cameras." The acronym seems disingenuous because the letters ME are usually employed by Israeli research projects to stand for "Middle East."
The computer-controlled cameras were pointed earthward to detect desert dust and "pollution aerosols . . . to provide scientific information about atmospheric aerosols and the influence of global changes on the climate." The data was directly transmitted to Tel Aviv University and, according to investigative journalist Gordon Thomas, on to the Israeli Biological Institute, the hub of Israel's nerve-gas and bioweapons programs.[2]
With computer enhancement, the collected images reveal the chemical composition of the stew of gases and droplets swirling over the desert. The ultraviolet and visible rays, originating from the sun, showed the normal background of the atmosphere - mineral particles, methane, car exhaust fumes and oil well burn-off - during daylight hours when Saddam Hussein's laboratories don't dare release their toxic wastes (assuming if indeed these are being produced or destroyed). The important data, however, must be gathered during chemical releases at night or under clouds, and this is where infrared cameras come into play.
Infrared cameras pick up the heat waves generated by artificial sources such as power plants and oil refineries. What if, however, Saddam's chemists were to take the precaution of cooling toxic emissions before dispersing them into the air? To detect cooler gases, an effective night-shot camera needs to generate its own infrared beam. It would have to be an extraordinarily powerful beam to penetrate the clouds far below.
Night vision, as any special-forces soldier or video enthusiast learns, is limited by the infrared beam's range. More power means more range. A space shuttle, however, simply cannot generate the staggering amount of extra power that the MEIDEX telescope requires on the sun-blocked side of Earth. To eliminate the risk of a power shutdown to the other experiments and the spaceship itself, a multi-spectral telescope requires an independent source of power, and the obvious solution is nuclear power.
During the search for Columbia debris, one of the sheriffs in Texas told reporters about the danger posed by radioactive equipment from the shuttle. NASA repeatedly warned of hazardous substances without disclosing any specifics. Most media commentators assumed that the space agency issued the bogus warnings to discourage souvenir collectors. Maybe the sheriff wasn't lying.[3]
The Russians have been known to install nuclear reactors aboard their mammoth satellites. The shuttle, however, is a lighter craft with a human crew - not the place for a lead-lined thermonuclear chamber. It turns out, however, that Ben-Gurion University's nuclear physics department has produced an exotic type of fissionable fuel called americium-242.[4] According to a university news release, americium-242 "requires only 1 percent of the mass of uranium or plutonium to reach its critical state. It was found that this fuel could sustain fission in the form of extremely thin films of these elements, less than a thousandth of a millimeter thick. In this form, the exceedingly high-energy, high-temperature fission products can escape the fuel elements and be used for propulsion in space - either by heating a gas for propulsion, or by fueling a special generator that produces electricity."[5]
Searching for these radioactive wafers across the state of Texas goes one better than the proverbial needle in the haystack.
NASA is reportedly considering nuclear-fueled spacecraft for future missions, since an americium-242 engine is expected to 10 times faster than current rocket technology.[6] A more immediate application of this exotic nuclear fuel is to provide the kick for space-based weapons, including laser cannons and electromagnetic pulse weapons. (Not by coincidence perhaps, Ilan Ramon and Commander William McCool were both specialists in electromagnetic warfare.)[7]
Space weaponry mounted on orbiting platforms, however, is illegal under several United Nations treaties; international law is the major obstacle to their deployment. Therefore, the anti-missile missiles developed by the U.S. and Israeli militaries serve as a convenient ploy to sell the National Missile Defense program to a technology-illiterate public. The Arrow and Patriot series are hopelessly clumsy ground-based technologies.
How then can the Bush and Sharon administrations win public support for space-based weapons? A cynical solution is to make martyrs of an Israeli-American space shuttle crew. Show them to be victims of outmoded technology and, more important, obsolete thinking in NASA and in Congress about keeping space free of nuclear power and potential war-making technologies. Is it conceivable that an American president would deliberately sabotage the Columbia? If his agenda is to affect a shift of NASA from a hybrid civilian-military space agency to an arm of the Pentagon's ballistic missile defense program, then no sacrifice could be too great - especially if Ilan Ramon's telescope had failed to detect any smoking guns over Iraq. As for the Israeli leader, it must be recalled that the Likud movement is built on the cult of martyrdom - from ancient Masada and the Warsaw ghetto to the Irgun fighters killed in fratricidal violence by Haganah militiamen at the birth of Israel, from Yonathan Netanyahu's demise in Entebbe to - now - the death of Colonel Ilan Ramon, nonchalant bomber of Iraq's nuclear plant repackaged as a hero of science.
An Experiment Gone Awry?
Undoubtedly, the official investigation will determine the Columbia disaster was not an accident by design. Blue-ribbon committees will piously give their independent endorsements, even if martyrs were made to order. Instead of jumping to conspiracy theories, even a harsh critic of NMD must admit that the Columbia disaster could have been an accident - though not one caused by loose tiles but by an experiment gone awry.
Ilan Ramon's telescope was "multi-spectral." This is an interesting word because it could refer to either the electromagnetic spectrum or ghostly apparitions. Taking a cue from Derrida's "Specters," the mission may have been haunted, though not in the way those of apocalyptic mindset have linked the Columbia's destruction to the over-flight town of Palestine, Texas.
Naomi Elliman, in her article "Israel in Space" posted on the Israeli Ministry of Finance website, disclosed "Ramon also investigated sprites."[8] Sprites and Ramon! His was a fascination resembling Nabokov's obsession with butterflies. Sprites, like butterflies, fly but they are traditionally classified as UFOs or as avenging angels. These spectral lights composed of ionized plasma (gas atoms stripped of electrons) are, Elliman explains, "rare forms of lightning that occur above thunderstorms at heights of up to 90 kilometers," or 55 miles above sea level.
As Columbia swung down to 36 miles altitude, an amateur astronomer in California snapped five shots of the descending shuttle with his Nikon. The photographs, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, showed a mysterious orange aura tinged with purple hovering over the ship's left wing.[9] Was this phantom-flame merely a trick of light or was it the luminous sprite that pilot Ilan Ramon had been chasing for years?
If Ramon had switched on his multi-spectral cameras - probably with childlike delight - as Columbia traversed the Pacific, he did not foresee the fatal consequences. The negative charge of the high-energy electron pulse from the americium-242 would attract the positive charge of the gas plasma generated by sprites (lighting is positive in the upper elevations). The strange attraction - half natural, half artificial - would have been as powerful as a Star Trek traction beam reeling in a Klingon interceptor.
A lightning burst would account for the sudden surge in temperature, the immediate shutdown of heat sensors and communications systems (why the ghostly "last words" were never transmitted to NASA monitors), and for the tumbling that sent Columbia, a flaming chariot of the heavens, to her doom.
1. Does the ME in MEIDEX stand for Mediterranean? According to the Israel Space Agency: "In 1999, ISA and NASA established in Israel the 'Middle East Interactive Data Archive (ISA-MEIDA)' in order to create and maintain an Earth observing data center."
2. Gordon Thomas, Ireland-based intelligence expert.
3. Comments by Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss on the threat of radioactive cargo aboard the Columbia were reported on CNBC-TV on Feb. 3 and later on PBS.
4. Americium-242m or 242Amm: Americium is used in chemical-weapons detectors and superconducters. The Americium-242m isotope is described in: SpaceDaily 2001.01.06. Journal: Nuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research No.455 pp. 442-451 December 2000 Yigal Ronen & Eugene Shwagerous
5. Ben-Gurion University (2001): "Space vehicles are about to receive a very large (and quite literal) boost from Israeli research, according to scientists at Ben-Gurion University. They have shown that a new type of nuclear fuel could cut the travel time from Earth to Mars from 10 months to only two weeks. 'It has long been known that the less the nuclear reactor which powers a space vehicle weighs, the more efficient space travel is,' says Prof. Yigal Ronen, of the university's Department of Nuclear Engineering. To meet the challenge of a light nuclear reactor, Ronen examined one element of reactor design - the fuel. The study focused on the nuclear fission fuel americium-242m, which requires only one percent of the mass of uranium or plutonium to reach its critical state. It was found that this fuel could sustain fission in the form of extremely thin films of these elements, less than a thousandth of a millimeter thick. In this form, the exceedingly high-energy, high-temperature fission products can escape the fuel elements and be used for propulsion in space - either by heating a gas for propulsion, or by fueling a special generator that produces electricity. There are still many hurdles to overcome before americium-242m can be used in space - examining reactor design, refueling, heat removal and safety provisions for manned vehicles - as well as the high cost of its manufacture. Americium-242m is already available in small quantities, and Ronen believes that the fuel will eventually be used for space travel."
6. NASA Nuclear-powered space vehicles: Los Angeles Times, 2002.01.17 article by Peter Pae "NASA 2004 budget to include funding for Nuclear Space Initiative" Also known as "Project Prometheus".
7. Electromagnetic warfare: Ilan Ramon was part of the 8-jet squadron that attacked the Iraqi nuclear power plant in 1981. His mission was to deceive the Iraqi radar by sending a false signal that made the jets appear to be a single commercial airliner.
Cmdr. William McCool (US Navy commander) trained on and flew Prowler electromagnetic warfare tactical aircraft at Whitbey Naval Station in Washington State.
NOTE: Kalpana Chawla (the Indian-American woman) was the only non-military crew member of the Columbia, but she was a defense-technology researcher.
NASA: EDUCATION: Graduated from Tagore School, Karnal, India, in 1976. Bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, 1982. Master of science degree in aerospace engineering from University of Texas, 1984. Doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from University of Colorado, 1988.
EXPERIENCE: In 1988, Kalpana Chawla started work at NASA Ames Research Center in the area of powered-lift computational fluid dynamics. Her research concentrated on simulation of complex airflows encountered around aircraft such as the Harrier (vertical takeoff assault jet) in "ground-effect." Following completion of this project she supported research in mapping of flow solvers to parallel computers, and testing of these solvers by carrying out powered lift computations. In 1993 Kalpana Chawla joined Overset Methods Inc., Los Altos, California, as Vice President and Research Scientist to form a team with other researchers specializing in simulation of moving multiple body problems. She was responsible for development and implementation of efficient techniques to perform aerodynamic optimization.
8. Sprites: Ilan Ramon's interest in sprites indicates that he may have been part of the Israeli Air Force team specializing in chasing UFOs.
9. San Francisco Chronicle 2003.2.2 David Perlman "Photos show odd images near shuttle"
[Secret Search Note: Encryption can be done with SOFTWARE. No need for a special piece of black hardware. They are looking for something else.]
Yahoo! News - Secret Shuttle Part Sought in Texas
Secret Shuttle Part Sought in Texas Search
Thu Feb 6, 4:00 PM ET Top Stories - Reuters
By Rick Wilking
BRONSON, Texas (Reuters) - Hundreds of National Guardsmen, federal agents, state troopers and volunteers closely searched this tiny Texas town on Thursday, looking for what was believed to be a top-secret device that fell from the shuttle Columbia when the spacecraft broke apart last week.
They formed long lines to walk through block-by-block and used machetes to hack their way through the thick woods that envelope the town, which is near the Texas-Louisiana border, 125 miles northeast of Houston.
The shuttle fell in thousands of pieces on Saturday, killing the seven astronauts on board. NASA is trying to recover shuttle parts from Louisiana to California in hopes of understanding why the disaster occurred.
Written instructions given to the searchers in Bronson showed a picture of a faceplate from the device, which in white letters on a black background spelled out "Secret Government Property."
People involved in the search told Reuters they had not been told what the device was, but said that they had found lots of shuttle debris in Bronson, including a high number of circuit boards and other electronic items.
A report in the Houston Chronicle on Thursday said searchers were looking for a communications device that handled encrypted messages between the shuttle and the ground.
It said the device was in a government "telecommunications security" category that normally allowed handling only under the tightest of restrictions.
Texas state troopers stood guard over the operation and told photographers to keep their distance. They said they would be asked to leave the area if searchers found something they did not want photographed.
Nacogdoches County Sheriff Thomas Kerss, asked about the item at a Thursday news conference in nearby Nacogdoches, would only say that he was aware of the search for it.
Searchers were hampered on Thursday by a cold, heavy rain that turned the east Texas forest into a muddy bog.
They said there was an urgency about the hunt for parts because the area was prone to flooding.
Yoichi Clark Shimatsu is a Hong Kong-based journalist and former general editor of
The Japan Times Weekly in Tokyo. His email address is
from The Laissez Faire Electronic Times, Vol 2, No 7, February 17, 2003
Editor - Emile Zola     Publisher - Digital Monetary Trust



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