Lost In Space Again

When it comes to launching satellites, the Russians can’t seem to catch a break.

Russia Loses Contact With Satellite After Rocket Launch

Russia’s Federal Space Agency lost contact with a new communications satellite shortly after it launched into space due to an apparent communication glitch on the spacecraft’s rocket, Russia’s space agency has reported.

The satellite, called Express-AM4, blasted off atop a Proton rocket on Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT) from the central Asian spaceport of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Thursday morning local time.

According to a translated statement posted in Russian to the country’s Federal Space Agency website, officials said flight controllers lost contact with the satellite due to an apparent communications problem with the Proton rocket’s Breeze M upper stage. Later, another statement suggested that the rocket stage may have been found though the status of the Express-AM4 satellite was unclear.

. . .

The new rocket malfunction is the latest of several embarrassing Russian launch failures or incidents for Russia’s space program in a single year.

See also:
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Lost Russian satellite found in wrong orbit
Russia loses newly launched telecom satellite
Russian Inquiry Into Express-AM4’s Anomaly…
Russia loses contact with $265-million Express-AM4 satellite shortly after launch
Satellite loss deals ‘severe blow’ to Russia: experts
Powerful communications satellite feared lost in space
Contact lost with freshly launched satellite in Russia
Missing satellite found off designated orbit
Russia loses contact with satellite after launch: reports
Russian Federal Mission Express-AM4 Anomaly Investigation Underway
Russia loses contact with just-launched £160m satellite in latest setback for its space industry
Russia loses contact with Europe’s biggest communications satellite
Russian satellite missing within hours of takeoff
Russia Loses Contact With Newly-Launched Satellite

Looking on the bright side, at least they don’t currently have this sort of problem with their manned space flights.

/which is a really good thing since, now that the U.S. space shuttle program is grounded, we depend on Russia to ferry out astronauts back and forth from the International Space Station

Rustock Reigned In

Chalk up a big win for the white hats in the ongoing cyberwar against the evil spammers.

Good guys take down notorious Rustock spamming botnet

Rustock, one of the largest and most notorious spam botnets, suddenly fell silent Wednesday and has remained off line.

The takedown of Rustock’s 26 command-and-control servers appears to be the result of a coordinated effort by longstanding anti-spamming groups, the most prominent of which is Spamhaus.org, according to cybersecurity blogger Brian Krebs, who broke the story.

Rustock’s control servers directed the activities of hundreds of thousands of infected PCs in homes and businesses, used primarily to deliver e-mail and social network messaging spam. Rustock is infamous for spreading ads for drugs from unlicensed online pharmacies.

Details of how the takedown was achieved are unclear; Rustock’s control servers were renowned for being nigh impregnable.

Rustock has been around for at least three years, and late last year had doubled its spam output over the previous year; in 2010, Rustock sent out more than 44 billion spam emails per day, accounting for as much as 48% of all spam, and had more than one million bots under its control, according to MessageLabs, Symantec’ messaging security division.

See also:
Rustock Botnet Flatlined with No Spam Activity
Notorious Spamming Botnet, Rustock, Takes a Fall
Rustock botnet’s operations disrupted
Major spam network silenced mid-campaign
Rustock botnet goes quiet again
The World’s Largest Spambot Network Goes Quiet
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Prolific Spam Network Is Unplugged
Rustock Botnet is Down, But Maybe Not Out
Rustock botnet

It still amazes me how the botnet spammers find hundreds of thousands of computers to infect. If everyone would just keep their software patches up to date, botnets wouldn’t be a problem in the first place. It’s like leaving the front door to your house wide open with a sign that says “burglars welcome”.

/one of the biggest upshots of the Rustock takedown is that if you want to buy Viagra or other erectile dysfunction drugs in the future, you’re going to have to go see your doctor, because the spam offers will hopefully no longer flood your email inbox

Proof Of Life

Well, this is certainly good news after four years without the slightest clue as to his whereabouts. That said, he’s not home until he’s home.

Years After Vanishing in Iran, US Man Proven Alive

Four years after a retired FBI agent mysteriously vanished inside Iran, U.S. officials have received irrefutable proof he is alive, a dramatic development that has sharply intensified diplomatic efforts to bring him home, The Associated Press has learned.

The U.S. had lacked reliable information about whether Robert Levinson was alive or dead since he disappeared in March 2007 from the Iranian island of Kish. It remains unclear who exactly is holding Levinson or where he is, but the proof that he is alive is a hopeful sign in a case that had seemingly gone cold.

The State Department issued a three-sentence statement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday saying there were indications Levinson was in southwest Asia and asking Iran for help. The AP has learned fuller details after a lengthy investigation into Levinson’s disappearance and the effort to get him back to the U.S.

See also:
US Cites Possible Break in Levinson Case
Retired FBI agent missing in Iran ‘alive’
Robert Levinson, former agent who vanished in Iran, is “alive”
U.S. says it has proof U.S. man who vanished in Iran in 2007 is still alive
U.S. Says Missing Former FBI Agent Is Alive
Clinton asks Iran to help find missing FBI agent
Who is missing American Robert Levinson?
Family of Ex-FBI Agent Missing in Iran Gets Evidence He Is Alive
Missing FBI retiree may be captive in southwest Asia
US believes missing ex-FBI Levinson agent alive
U.S. has signs ex-FBI agent held in southwest Asia
U.S. says vanished agent alive
Family of American missing in Iran asks for prayer
Robert Levinson
Help Bob Levinson

It’s a tough enough situation that Levinson is being held somewhere in southwest Asia, just about the last place on Earth that you’d want to be a prisoner, or that Iran is probably involved in his disappearance and is being asked to help secure his release, but what makes it tougher is that Obama and Hillary are apparently spearheading the effort to get Levinson back. Pardon me, but judging by their foreign policy performance over the last two years, their leadership doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence that they can pull off this repatriation without screwing it up. If I were the family, I’d rather be using a professional hostage negotiator to get Levinson back.

/anyway, despite the involvement of the Obama/Clinton foreign policy clown posse, as they say, even a blind squirrel gets a nut every now and then, let’s all hope and pray that Robert Levinson is safely returned to his family soon