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US develops hopping 'Lunar Penguin'

Cruise missile tech coming soon to a Moon near you

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The Raytheon Lunar PenguinDespite recent military assertions to the contrary, it seems that the US is running a covert black op to militarise the Moon through deployment of a hopping, rocket-powered "Penguin" designed to cover vast lunar distances with a single bound.

According to Reuters, Raytheon's "Lunar Penguin" - a 3ft-tall assemblage of rocket engines, cruise missile mapping technology and "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle" nav systems, unveiled at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space 2005 Conference - can jump around one-sixth of a mile, possibly more. It was originally developed to search for ice at the lunar south pole, and is now being pitched as a precision delivery vehicle for the science community or, as Raytheon puts it, a "robotic precursor" which can carry out a reccy of possible landing sites for manned missions.

Naturally, the Lunar Penguin bears no resemblance whatsoever to a penguin, but looks a bit like the Apollo lander. It boasts four legs and two-part, liquid-fuel rocket engines. The clever bit is its ability to "hop", as project supremo Karleen Seybold explained: "That ability is something unique in this design, where you can refire the engines and relocate."

Since the Penguin forms part of the NASA's "Project Constellation" to explore next-generation technology for exploration of the Moon and Mars and beyond, Raytheon is conscious of the need to keep the budget within reasonable parameters. Accordingly, the company has taken the rocket engines from a ground-based missile system and bolted on the Tomahawk cruise's "digital scene matching area correlation" navigation system working in conjunction with navigation capabilities from the aforementioned Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle - part of a set-up designed to track and destroy ballistic missiles.

Enough said. Those doubtful of the sinister implications of the precision-guided, hopping cruise Moon Penguin, should have a shufti at Raytheon's website, which lists in gory detail the company's current porfolio of products. An extract from one recent press release will suffice to underline the threat:

Raytheon Company Names Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II Team

Raytheon will partner with Aerojet, Sacramento, Calif.; Goodrich, Vergennes, Vt., and EFW, Ft. Worth, Texas, to offer a proven low-risk, cost-effective, robust solution with precision lethality and operational flexibility for aviation systems for the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and allied forces.

"APKWS II will fill the gap between the current Hydra 70 unguided rocket and the Hellfire missile. This low cost precision accuracy is needed in today's environment to give the warfighter the flexibility and the freedom to maneuver," said Ron Krebs, APKWS II program manager. "The Raytheon APKWS II system provides the warfighter 100 percent confidence of 'one rocket, one kill'."

Lovely. ®

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