December 3, 2010 at 10:30 am #57945sscadminAdministrator
So what was the X-37B doing up in space for 7 months? Hmmm makes you wonder what type of hardware is on that craft and what it’s mission really was up there. There is some extra information here on the X-37B but nothing really concrete in what it’s possible mission was. There were some astronomers that tried to track the craft with telescopes and tried to observe what it was doing or what country it could have been monitoring by its angle/pitch in orbit. Most reports are trying to play down the whole arms race in space mention, but 7 months to do a test flight that should take a few days 🙂
Any ideas on what the X-37B is doing when it is up there?Quote:
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (AP) – The U.S. Air Force’s secrecy-shrouded X-37B unmanned spaceplane returned to Earth early Friday after more than seven months in orbit on a classified mission, officials said.
The winged craft autonomously landed at at Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Vandenburg spokesman Jeremy Eggers said.
“It’s very exciting,” Eggers said of the 1:16 a.m. PST landing.
The X-37B was launched by an Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Fla., on April 22, 2010, with a maximum mission duration of 270 days.
Also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle, the Boeing-built spacecraft was originally a NASA project before being taken over by the military.
The Air Force has not said whether it carried anything in its cargo bay, but insists the primary purpose of the mission was to test the craft itself.
“We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission,” program manager Lt. Col. Troy Giese said in a statement.
“Today’s landing culminates a successful mission based on close teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office,” Giese said.
Eggers said the craft is expected to return to space next year.
“I understand they are looking to do that in the spring of 2011,” he told The Associated Press.
Officials have made public only a general description of the mission objectives: testing of guidance, navigation, control, thermal protection and autonomous operation in orbit, re-entry and landing.
However, the ultimate purpose of the X-37B and details about the craft have longed remained a mystery, though experts said the spacecraft was intended to speed up development of combat-support systems and weapons systems.
The voyage culminated the project’s long and expensive journey from NASA to the Pentagon’s research and development arm and then on to the secretive Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on the X-37 program, but the current total hasn’t been released.
While the massive space shuttles have been likened to cargo-hauling trucks, the X-37B is more like a sports car, with the equivalent trunk capacity.
Built by Boeing Co.’s Phantom Works, the 11,000-pound craft is 9 1/2 feet tall and just over 29 feet long, with a wingspan of less than 15 feet. It has two angled tail fins rather than a single vertical stabilizer.
Unlike the shuttle, it was designed for launch like a satellite, housed in a fairing atop the expendable Atlas V rocket, and capable of deploying solar panels to provide electrical power in orbit.
December 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm #73940GeraldineParticipant
It was likely loaded with surveillance equipment and snooping in on the usual hotspots around the globe 🙄
December 3, 2010 at 4:56 pm #73941farcodevParticipant
according to some sources it’s a test bed for future surveillance / optics systems
They didn’t launched it for flight testing, but mainly for testing some hardware, the X-37 is the most recent experimental craft of a long familly.
Some though it was also a test bed to provide a shuttle replacement since the NASA doesn’t seems to do anything for it, and the Air Force, need it. (Remember that many shuttle missions were for the NORAD/Air Force), but it doesn’t seems to be the case.
Satellites are in orbits for many years, why not an experimental unmanned craft ? :geek:
December 4, 2010 at 12:23 pm #73942
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