February 13, 2017

NASA Scientist was Detained at the Border Until He Unlocked His Phone (Source: The Verge)
Two weeks ago, Sidd Bikkannavar flew back into the United States after spending a few weeks abroad in South America. An employee of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Bikkannavar had been on a personal trip, pursuing his hobby of racing solar-powered cars. He had recently joined a Chilean team, and spent the last weeks of January at a race in Patagonia.

Bikkannavar is a seasoned international traveller — but his return home to the US this time around was anything but routine. Bikkannavar left for South America on January 15th, under the Obama Administration. He flew back from Santiago, Chile to the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas on Monday, January 30th, just over a week into the Trump Administration.

Bikkannavar says he was detained by US Customs and Border Patrol and pressured to give the CBP agents his phone and access PIN. Since the phone was issued by NASA, it may have contained sensitive material that wasn’t supposed to be shared. Bikkannavar’s phone was returned to him after it was searched by CBP, but he doesn’t know exactly what information officials might have taken from the device. (2/12)

Cape Canaveral Pad Revived for Minotaur Rocket Launch (Source: Florida Today)
Crews in hard hats crawled around a mobile gantry Sunday morning at Launch Complex 46 while a crane gently lowered an umbilical tower next to several stacked rocket stages. The test activity at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station previewed the arrival of a rocket that months from now is expected to make its first launch from Florida, from a pad that has not hosted a mission since 1999.

“Since then the pad has been sitting fallow,” said Mark Bontrager, vice president of spaceport operations for Space Florida, which manages Launch Complex 46. “We’re excited to see this thing come back to life for a launch this summer.” Orbital ATK is targeting a mid-July launch of its Minotaur IV rocket, a version of a solid-fueled rocket that has launched 25 times since 2000 from every possible U.S. launch site except the Cape. (2/12)

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