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Old 03-05-2011, 05:32 PM   #1
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Default Cool Super Secret Space Plane Launches from Cape

Looks like the Air Force is going to keep the USA in space with advanced technologies that NASA could neither get funding for or implement.

The only downside is that much like the Chinese we won't know about launches until after they have occurred.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41909331...science-space/

By Mike Wall
Space.com
updated 1 hour 5 minutes ago 2011-03-05T23:18:11
Share Print Font: +-After being delayed a day by bad weather, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B robotic space plane blasted off Saturday from Florida on a mission shrouded in secrecy.

The unmanned X-37B mini-shuttle known as Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2 took to the skies from Cape Canaveral at 5:46 p.m. ET, tucked away in the nose cone atop a huge Atlas 5 rocket.

The space plane was originally scheduled to launch on Friday, but cloudy, windy conditions scrubbed two attempts. A technical glitch caused the X-37B to miss a launch window earlier Saturday afternoon; a faulty valve had to replaced in a last-minute repair.

The X-37B's mission is classified, but Air Force officials have said the vehicle will be used to test out new spacecraft technologies. Shortly after launch, the mission went into a scheduled media blackout, with no futher public updates.
..Saturday's launch marks the start of the X-37B program's second space mission. The Air Force's other X-37B plane, known as OTV-1, returned to Earth in December 2010 after a similarly mysterious seven-month maiden mission. [Photos: First Flight of the X-37B Space Plane]

Mysterious mini-shuttle
The X-37B spacecraft looks a bit like NASA's space shuttles, only much smaller. The vehicle is about 29 feet long by 15 feet wide (8.8 by 4.5 meters), with a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed. By comparison, two entire X-37Bs could fit inside the payload bay of a space shuttle.

The space plane, built by Boeing for the U.S. military, can fly long, extended missions because of its solar array power system, which allows it to stay in orbit for up to nine months, Air Force officials have said. What exactly the vehicle does while circling the Earth for so long is a mystery, since the craft's payloads and missions are classified. Partly as a result of the secrecy, some concern has been raised particularly by Russia and China that the X-37B is a space weapon of some sort.

Karl Tate, Space.com But the Air Force has repeatedly denied that charge, claiming that the X-37B's chief task is testing out new hardware for future satellites instruments like sensors and guidance, control and navigation systems. And that's likely to be the case, experts say.

"It gives the Air Force the ability to test-fly some of this hardware," said Brian Weeden, a former Air Force orbital analyst who works as a technical adviser for the nonprofit Secure World Foundation.

Weeden suspects the X-37B is testing gear for the National Reconnaissance Office, the intelligence agency that builds and operates the U.S.'s spy satellites. That would explain all the secrecy, he said.

More at the link above.
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:46 PM   #2
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I wonder what its use is really going to be...
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:18 PM   #3
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The x-37B Orbital Test Vehicle is an unmanned space test vehicle for the USAF.

Source Space.com: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

kind of cool

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Old 03-05-2011, 10:29 PM   #4
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The space plane was originally scheduled to launch on Friday, but cloudy, windy conditions scrubbed two attempts. A technical glitch caused the X-37B to miss a launch window earlier Saturday afternoon; a faulty valve had to replaced in a last-minute repair.

And I wonder if these reschedules had anything to do with satillites flying over.
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Old 03-06-2011, 04:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by CBF1 View Post
I wonder what its use is really going to be...
A few tidbits about it:
-NASA aided in the design, but at the time it used hypergolic fuel.
-There are two X-37Bs, so one may use H2O2 and Kerosene shown in the picture. This fuel combination has the highest isp (efficency) of any non-cryogenic fuel.
-In the first flight, the X-37B made multiple and drastic changes in its orbit, so much so that amatuer ground trackers lost it.

Possible uses:
-Forign powers know when static orbits are overhead, but the X-37B's large fuel supply would allow it to change ornits for unannounced high resolution photography. It could also release a stealth recon satellite into unknown orbit.
-As noted, it allows testing of future componants and power/propulsion systems that can be brought back for examination. This could include clandestine release and recapture of systems like a) politically unpopular nuclear power/engines b) target satellites for ground/airborn laser tests.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:00 AM   #6
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The War use of this thing is going to be way to cool. Eyes always in the sky.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:08 AM   #7
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These things fly for 200+ days. This is the second test flight. I could see these planes flying around 365 days a year, holding some kind of weapons payload. Eventually multiple planes like these will be flying around. Watching you.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:39 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Boomhauer View Post
A few tidbits about it:
-NASA aided in the design, but at the time it used hypergolic fuel.
-There are two X-37Bs, so one may use H2O2 and Kerosene shown in the picture. This fuel combination has the highest isp (efficency) of any non-cryogenic fuel.
-In the first flight, the X-37B made multiple and drastic changes in its orbit, so much so that amatuer ground trackers lost it.

Possible uses:
-Forign powers know when static orbits are overhead, but the X-37B's large fuel supply would allow it to change ornits for unannounced high resolution photography. It could also release a stealth recon satellite into unknown orbit.
-As noted, it allows testing of future componants and power/propulsion systems that can be brought back for examination. This could include clandestine release and recapture of systems like a) politically unpopular nuclear power/engines b) target satellites for ground/airborn laser tests.
Anyone else see the PBS Nova episode about the USAF Astronaut program? They wanted to have their own Astronauts to send into orbit, take pictures and return to Earth with them. They were talking at the high point of funding of having a space station that was manned taking the pic's and rotating crews. It was way to easy to use a SR-71 or spy satelite than hosting a manned platform but the reason the Shuttle is so big is because of USAF size requirements.

There have been a handfull of NASA Shuttle missions for the USAF which had payloads and they are still classified. The mission logs are edited and the crew switched over to USAF gear to record the execution of the mission.

I still would like to see an option for a US manned vehicle just for access to the ISS.
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:51 PM   #9
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Anyone else see the PBS Nova episode about the USAF Astronaut program? They wanted to have their own Astronauts to send into orbit, take pictures and return to Earth with them. They were talking at the high point of funding of having a space station that was manned taking the pic's and rotating crews. It was way to easy to use a SR-71 or spy satelite than hosting a manned platform but the reason the Shuttle is so big is because of USAF size requirements.

There have been a handfull of NASA Shuttle missions for the USAF which had payloads and they are still classified. The mission logs are edited and the crew switched over to USAF gear to record the execution of the mission.

I still would like to see an option for a US manned vehicle just for access to the ISS.
http://www.spacetoday.org/Satellites/YugoWarSats.html
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Old 03-07-2011, 12:52 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=Boomhauer;3131336]A few tidbits about it:
-NASA aided in the design, but at the time it used hypergolic fuel.
-There are two X-37Bs, so one may use H2O2 and Kerosene shown in the picture. This fuel combination has the highest isp (efficency) of any non-cryogenic fuel.

Hypergolic's explode on contact right? That is what the lander used to reduce the chance of a turbo pump failure or misfire stranding Astronauts on the moon.

Didn't Scaled composites use Kerosene and rubber pelets to launch "Space Ship One"?

I am not an actual rocket scientist I am just interested in the accomplishments. I probably would have been a Donald Hall junkie if I was alive back in the late 20's, Hall designed and help build the Spirit of St Louis.
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:26 PM   #11
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Great stuff, it was the Corona project. I am old and can't remember details anymore.

I read about the classified stuff (as much as he could write about) in Mile Mullane's book "Riding Rockets", which also has an honest, harrowing, assessment of what the Challenger Astronauts experienced after throttle up.
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:37 PM   #12
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Great stuff, it was the Corona project. I am old and can't remember details anymore.

I read about the classified stuff (as much as he could write about) in Mile Mullane's book "Riding Rockets", which also has an honest, harrowing, assessment of what the Challenger Astronauts experienced after throttle up.
oh wow......I'll have to check that out
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:47 PM   #13
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You know Obama is probably selling this to bin laden, china and france right now.
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Old 03-07-2011, 01:48 PM   #14
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You know Obama is probably selling this to bin laden, china and france right now.
that little **** stick from wikileaks already did
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:21 PM   #15
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oh wow......I'll have to check that out
I never read the Challenger/Columbia books because it is too fresh and they came out too fast for me for the big picture look but Mike worked on fact finding for Challenger as all the active astronauts did at the time and it is about as clear and unbiased picture of what happened over those last 5 minutes.
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:22 PM   #16
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I piloted this. What's the big deal.
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:31 PM   #17
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that little **** stick from wikileaks already did
But it's more fun blaming the Kenyan.
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:23 PM   #18
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I piloted this. What's the big deal.
The big deal is that you fit and flew without a cockpit.

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Old 03-07-2011, 03:27 PM   #19
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I wonder what's in the "Experiment Bay?"
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:29 PM   #20
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can we skip the sub light speed spaceships and go straight to warp speed starships and name it enterprise
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Old 03-07-2011, 03:53 PM   #21
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can we skip the sub light speed spaceships and go straight to warp speed starships and name it enterprise
Warp bubbles are too hard to generate with current power sources, maybe in a couple hundred years when the new CERN particle collider has generated enough Anti-matter or we find some dilithium crystals on an asteroid or something...

For now can't rejoice that the USA still has some foothold in space?
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Old 03-07-2011, 04:28 PM   #22
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At least they were smart enough to NOT stick it on top of the Taurus launcher...

Oops!

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Old 03-07-2011, 04:38 PM   #23
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Possible uses:
-Forign powers know when static orbits are overhead, but the X-37B's large fuel supply would allow it to change ornits for unannounced high resolution photography.
This.
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Old 03-07-2011, 05:20 PM   #24
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meh guess current reality has to do o well star trek at least gave us compact disks big screen tvs 2 way commnicators and other stuff too numerous to list. yeah im a trek geek
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Old 03-07-2011, 06:43 PM   #25
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The big deal is that you fit and flew without a cockpit.

All you need to do is hit the secret button on the mane BB and you're into the mainframe. It's like hacking with Angelina Jolie.



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