The Chinese Professor, NASA And Space Weapons

September 13, 2015
Professor Rongxing Li

Professor Rongxing Li

Professor Rongxing Li, an expert on space technology at Ohio State University has gone missing. He is presumed to be in China, but U.S. authorities want to have a little talk with him. Li abruptly quit his job developing space technology and his wife was detained by Homeland Security while trying to leave the U.S. – here’s some details from The Columbus Dispatch:

FBI investigates China ties of Ohio State professor who resigned, disappeared
Professor Rongxing Li was a star at Ohio State University, attracting international attention as he helped NASA rovers explore Mars in the past decade.
Then, early last year, Li quit his post as OSU’s premier mapping expert and disappeared. No news release was issued to explain his departure, and most information about his 18-year tenure at Ohio State was removed from the university’s website.
Now, federal search warrants filed in U.S. District Court in Columbus reveal that the FBI was investigating Li, trying to determine whether he shared defense secrets with the Chinese.
Li, 56, a U.S. citizen who grew up in China, had been director of the OSU mapping and geographic information system laboratory. Also known as Ron Li, he held an endowed chair in the OSU Department of Civil, Environmental and Geodetic Engineering and was known worldwide for his work in mapping.
His renown came, in part, when NASA selected him to help with its 2003 and 2009 Mars exploration missions. His troubles, too, began with NASA projects.
OSU, the FBI and NASA declined to comment about the case. But search warrants unsealed in August lay out why the government took a hard look at Li.
In January 2014, Li submitted a $36.9 million proposal to NASA for imaging work for a 2020 Mars mission. As part of that proposal, Li had access to Department of Defense technical information that he was prohibited from sharing with the Chinese, according to search warrants.
Li had claimed in the proposal that he had no relationships with Chinese scientists. But OSU researchers knew he had spent 2012 on sabbatical at Tongji University in Shanghai, so Ohio State began an internal investigation to determine why Li had not notified NASA of his China connections.
Investigators determined that Li had numerous, ongoing connections with Tongji, including being listed as a professor and as the director of a center for spatial information. The investigators also found online evidence that he had collaborated with Chinese-government programs to develop advanced technologies, serving as chief scientist for one project.
According to the search warrant, Ohio State then called the FBI because of the “unusual circumstances of Li’s departure and the restricted and sensitive nature of some of his research.” The university told the FBI that Li had access to International with Traffic in Arms Regulations information NASA and with Raytheon, a defense contractor.
As part of the FBI investigation, Homeland Security agents stopped and searched Li’s wife, Jue Tian, 56, in San Francisco before she boarded a plane for China on March 1, 2014. Agents seized Tian’s computer, a cellphone and several thumb drives. The thumb drives contained restricted defense information, the warrant says.
-More information at link
What I was curious about was the “Traffic in Arms Regulations information NASA and with Raytheon”. When I looked that up, I found a Department Of Defense investigation that had been on the same topic; the sharing of classified military space technology with foreign individuals working with NASA. Here is the link to that investigation:“>

Here’s a summary of that investigation:

In response to House Report 113-446, “Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015,” we conducted an evaluation of the transfer of specific International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) controlled missile defense technology from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Specifically, Congress asked us to determine the following.
A. Did MDA and NASA officials comply with Federal and DoD transfer policies and procedures for protecting classified and ITAR controlled technology?
B. Was the transferred technology classified?
C. Who had access to the technology, including foreign nationals?
D. Was the technology retransferred beyond U.S. Government control and if so, was there any damage to U.S. security resulting from the transfer?

(And further excerpts):
“The Program Director of MDA’s Multiple Kill Vehicle (MKV) Program Office, and the Director of Programs, NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), California, were colleagues throughout the 1980s and 1990s while working for the U.S. Air Force. In 2001, the MDA MKV Program Director began work at MDA. In 2006, the NASA ARC Director of Programs began work at NASA ARC. One of the projects the NASA ARC Director of Programs was tasked to develop was a small lunar lander. He was interested in using existing DoD propulsion technology to design the most cost efficient, small-scale spacecraft possible. I n October 2007, he contacted t he MDA MKV Program Director and requested MDA transfer an excess DACS, which had potential value to NASA’s small lunar lander venture.
At the time of the request, the DACS was a component under the cognizance of the MDA Kinetic Energy Interceptor ( KEI) Program Director.”
“The SF 30 contract modification directed Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems, the prime contractor, to transfer the DACS and related hardware components to NASA ARC.
In turn, the Northrop Grumman subcontracts manager directed the Raytheon Company, Northrop Grumman’s subcontractor, to effect t he DACS transfer. T he Raytheon Company was providing bonded storage services for the DACS at the t ime. T he Northrop Grumman subcontracts manager a lso directed t he Raytheon Company to remove the two classified components from the DACS before the transfer. As directed, Raytheon Company personnel removed the classified components and shipped the DACS to NASA ARC by completing DD Form 1149, “Requisition and Shipping Document.”
(Editor)- Now here is where the similarities with the Li/China case are:
“Subsequent to the Completion of the Transfer in January 2008, NASA Officials Allowed Two Foreign National Contractors Unauthorized Access to ITAR Controlled Missile Defense Technology in Violation of the ITAR”
“Several NASA ARC Small Spacecraft Project Office (SSPO) employees, all of whom were U.S. citizens, had access to the DACS after its arrival in January 2008 until September 2012 when it was moved to the warehouse. From January 2008 through October 2008, NASA ARC officials allowed a British national contractor visual access to 200 photographs of the DACS and physical access to the DACS before he was issued a DDTC export license that would have authorized such access. We also noted that in December 2007, NASA ARC officials allowed the British national contractor visual access to an ITAR marked, DACS schematic PowerPoint slide. In addition, NASA ARC officials allowed a German national contractor, who was issued an export license that did not include the DACS, access to the DACS on at least one occasion in March 2009.”
Now, what these cases illustrate is the clear cross-over between military technology and space technology. Earlier this month we posted an article titled “Yes, Space-Based Laser Platforms Are Real”, at this link:

I believe this possible Chinese spy case supports the reality of space-based weapons, and the dangerous game that is being played out literally- “above our heads”…

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