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 Post subject: X-37B
PostPosted: Thu Apr 22, 2010 10:33 pm 
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Now that the Air Force has launched the X-37B and we know as little about it as they can manage - what do we think of it?

Is it entirely out of reach of NASA? Could NASA for instance, have a copy and modify it to carry stuff to the ISS? Or is it too small for their purposes? Are they better off swallowing their pride and using the European space truck? (probably).

Certainly for Air Force purposes, this vehicle can go up, stay up for long periods, carry out research and carry the experiments back safely. So would it not serve scientific purposes well, and if so, should NASA be operating one too?

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 3:41 am 
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Seeing as NASA, I believe, canned the original X-37, any proposals now for them to have any part of it would, I suspect, come down with a bad case of the NIH-es.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Apr 23, 2010 4:51 pm 
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There is enough volume to allow a docking mechanism and a cargo room.
An Astronaut might have to go out in a suit and unpack stuff from the cargo bay.

The Astronaut would have to remove the solar panel and any other "stuff" from the Experiment Bay, cram herself in, strap herself securely, and lock the doors to use this as an emergency return.



Since Rutan lent a hand, I hope this robot releases some M&Ms in the direction of Chinese communication satellites.
Chicoms deserve it for releasing garbage towards the ISS' orbit.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 3:43 pm 
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It is probably too small to serve as a delivery vehicle to the ISS. IIRC, it was initially sized to fit inside the Space Shuttle's cargo bay.


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:57 pm 
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Oh, if you remember Babylon 5 the Earthforce had a thingy called the Star Furry. You put guns around a cockpit and then put the omnidirectional engines on four moment arms jutting from the cockpit. Uncle Sam liked the idea and got the rights to use the design.

So the little experiment bay opens and emerges our Star Fury with Robo Fett or Dextre bolted in front.

It's kind of like how a ship needs to take a deep sea submersible out and then it, in turn, releases a ROV.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 5:21 am 
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Bit of a discussion here.

http://forum.nasaspaceflight.com/index.php?topic=13914

and

http://www.space.com/common/forums/view ... 15&t=23843

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Apr 30, 2010 11:51 pm 
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The NASA discussion is interesting - but I didn't see anything there that convinced me. For a start, they immediately started talking about manned. I wasn't. I merely wondered if the unmanned version could dock with the ISS and some cargo could be transferred. So far I've seen nothing to say that a slightly up-scaled version couldn't do that - and return for a next flight. I rather suspect that the turn-around could be quicker than the shuttle. I also wondered if the present version couldn't be used for manyt of the civilian experiments etc., and be a cheaper method of delivering them. For a start some experiments might benefit from being returned - with very expensive experimental equipment able to be re-used

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 10:31 am 
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BBC: X-37B US miltary[sic] spaceplane returns to Earth

It returned to Vandenberg at 9:16 GMT, setting a record as the first automated landing in US Spaceflight history. The Air Force did not comment on any payload, saying the mission was to test the craft and the program manager Lt Col Troy Giese said they were pleased it "completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission." An Vandenberg spokesman said the craft should be up again in Spring 2011. Amateur observers have claimed that the altering orbits of the spacecraft shared traits with photo-reconnaissance satellites.

BBC notes that "the military vehicle is powered by a solar array and lithium-ion batteries."



Apologies for the Necro.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:47 pm 
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An unmanned reusable spaceplane actually makes a lot of sense because it can be made small and simple enough.

A manned expendable/semi-reusable capsule actually makes a lot of sense because it can be made small and simple enough.

Those are the conclusions I've drawn.


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:54 pm 
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Well, it is safely back after a remarkably long if, um, obscure mission...

IIRC, next launch will be early next Summer.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 4:12 pm 
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FLIR video of landing; post-landing checkout.

Pretty cool stuff.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 6:13 pm 
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Second space plane set for launch
You can register to read the article or "friend" the 30th Space Wing on Facebook to read it.
Nora K. Wallace nwallace@newspress.com, News-Press Staff Writer. March 1, 2011 6:22AM
C. 2011 Santa Barbara News-Press


The second X-37B is to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the Friday afternoon of March 4, 2011. OTV-2 will be mounted atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 and lift off from Cape Canaveral and land autonomously (as the first) at Vandenberg Air Force Base with Edwards Air Force Base serving as a back up runway. OTV-2 is 29 feet long, and weighs about 11,000 pounds.

OTV-1 spent 244 days, nine hours, and 24 minutes in space while the second space plane is aiming for 270 days in orbit. OTV-1 was managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. No indication has been made of how many OTV missions there may be. A linkto the RyanCrierie's thread on the X-37B.

After OTV-1's landing on December 3rd, Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Programs Rihard McKinney said that due to the critical national security space concerns, the military wants to "be able to put an object up into space, materials and technology and so forth, test them out, bring them back and examine them." Under Secretary McKinney said, "We're still proving out this capability. As we get more information, more data, then we'll make a determination of 'is this an effective tool?' Is there value going one step further?' "

The program manager, Lieutenant Colonel Troy Giese, said at that time that the military was looking forward to the second flight "to basically expand the operational envelope of what the capabilities are."


The European Space Agency currently has the Johannes Kepler ATV resupply pod docked with the International Space Station. At 17,000 pounds cargo, and 44,000 pounds total is the heaviest payload ever launched by the European Space Agency.

Apologies for the Necro.

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And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:27 pm 
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Two issues with converting the X-37 to crewed: The bird lives under an aerodynamic cover, and there's no 'escape' facility...

If you could load a pressurised escape-rated pod per, d'uh, Gemini, then you're laughing...

One gotcha: Have you seen the 'humanoid' teleoperator that's just gone up to the ISS? Put one of them aboard X-37and leave the canned spam on the ground...

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:22 pm 
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Gemini didn't have an escape pod, it had ejector seats.

After Challenger, they modified the Shuttles so, it was low enough, in level / controlled flight, you could bail out.

The capsule idea is what NASA wanted to go with after the Shuttle. Obama killed it. I think he's trying to walk it back, but money is the issue.

BTW, check out GE Apollo.

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:25 am 
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Nik_SpeakerToCats wrote:
One gotcha: Have you seen the 'humanoid' teleoperator that's just gone up to the ISS? Put one of them aboard X-37and leave the canned spam on the ground...


Do you mean Robo Fett?

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Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:55 am 
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"Gemini didn't have an escape pod,"

My unfortunate wording: I meant to use a 'Gemini_2012' *as* the escape capsule...

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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:45 pm 
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Here is a factsheet on the X-37B.
The launch is supposed to be streamed live here.

It will be launched by the 45th Space Wing of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

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Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:58 pm 
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The launch today was scrubbed due to high ground winds and cumulus clouds. An attempt will be made for an afternoon launch window tomorrow.

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And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Sat Mar 05, 2011 6:24 pm 
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A successful launch was conducted at 5:46PM today from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on an Atlas V Evolved launch vehicle provided by the United Launch Alliance. This was the 24th launch of the Atlas V, the 3rd launch of the Atlas V - 501 variant. The first stage (Common Core Booster) used a Russian built RD-180 Kerosene/Liquid Oxygen Engine from RD AMROSS and the upper stage (Centaur) used an American built RL 10 Liquid Hydrogen/Liquid Oxygen Engine from Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne. The aerodynamic encapsulation shell was mounted on a 5 meter diameter payload fairing.

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Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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 Post subject: Re: X-37B
PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:23 pm 
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They've decided to extend the mission because of its success to date.
Santa Maria Times: VAFB will wait for spaceplane landing

An interesting tidbit from the article:
Quote:
Because the first vehicle suffered tire damage upon touching down, Vandenberg’s airfield managers and engineers conducted a thorough runway inspection.

“That inspection revealed 141 small imperfections — minor concrete irregularities that would have no affect on typical aircraft tires but could affect the X-37B’s smaller, thinner-walled tires,” Boltz said. “Base civil engineers finished grinding down all 141 identified imperfections earlier this year to mitigate against blowing a tire on landing. Team Vandenberg is ready to support landing operations anytime and at a moment’s notice.”

Prior to the first landing, the airfield crews built and installed replacement steel discs, or runway centerline light plates, that posed a hazard to X-37B’s tires. It wasn’t a small chore — some 658 plates that line the 15,000-foot runway had to be pried from the ground where they had been since the 1980s and replaced.

Read more: http://santamariatimes.com/news/local/m ... z1fEX6j5t1

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And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!


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