X-37B OTV in orbit

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by Tiassa, Apr 24, 2010.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    A candidate for developing the next generation of space shuttle is in orbit on a nine-month mission:

    The U.S. military has launched an unmanned rocket carrying a new kind of space plane into a nine-month orbit, but exact details of the mission remain under wraps.

    The 20-story Atlas rocket with a X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle on its back took off Thursday night from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


    (Weber)

    Air Force Deputy Undersecretary for Space Programs said, "Probably the most important demonstration is on the ground, see what it really takes to turn this bird around and get it ready to go fly again."

    The X-37B, which looks much like a small space shuttle, has the attention of military brass, and is part of NASA's search to replace the now retired fleet.

    Some, of course, are complaining about the potential militarization of space, but come on, that's inevitable. The X-37B is a joint undertaking by Boeing and Lockheed Martin, and suggests that people's concerns about the lack of an American low Earth orbit program might be overstated. To the other, according to Reuters, the X-37B is not designed to carry humans. It's a tiny thing, with a fifteen foot wingspan, and measures all of twenty-nine and a quarter feet from tip to tail.

    It may not be a space shuttle, but it's certainly a start. We'll see what comes.

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    Ugly li'l bastard: The X-37B.
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    Notes:

    Weber, Christopher. "Air Force Launches Mystery Space Plane into Orbit". Politics Daily. April 23, 2010. PoliticsDaily.com. April 24, 2010. http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/23/air-force-launches-mystery-space-plane-into-orbit/

    Klotz, Irene. "U.S. Military Tests X-37B Reusable Spaceship". Reuters. April 23, 2010. ABCNews.Go.com. April 24, 2010. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory?id=10455110
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  3. draqon Banned Banned

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    Oh yeah real achievement, the military basically hijacked a privately engineered White Knight module.

    How sincere of them. wait... they launched it on Atlas rocket??? I thought the plane was to have it on Scaled Composites' White Knight?

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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Misfire?

    The X-37 is a DARPA project.

    The White Knight has a ceiling of 53,000 feet, and never put the X-37 into orbit. The Air Force wanted to see how X-37B performed in orbit, and whether they could bring it down after 270 days. In order to do that, they needed to actually get the thing to orbit. The White Knight has a payload limit of 8,000 lbs. Boeing's X-37 checked in at nearly twelve thousand pounds (specifically, 5,400 kg), and carried a N[sub]2[/sub]O[sub]4[/sub] and N[sub]2[/sub]H[sub]4[/sub] propulsion system; as it was not designed to launch independently to orbit, engineers intended the original design to be deployed from a space shuttle payload bay. After the wreck of the Columbia, however, they planned to use a Delta 7920 rocket, and the first space test on the X-37 was planned for an Atlas-V or Delta IV-M rocket.

    Interestingly, 37B is also the name of the Cape Canaveral launch complex from which the unmanned Saturn flights launched, and served through Apollo 5. I don't know if this is coincidence, or if Boeing was tugging at NASA's heartstrings. LC-37B is currently in service as a launch platform for Delta IV rockets.
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    Notes:

    Wikipedia. "Scaled Composites White Knight". March 26, 2010. Wikipedia.org. April 24, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaled_Composites_White_Knight

    —————. "Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Space Launch Complex 37". March 5, 2010. Wikipedia.org. April 24, 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cape_Canaveral_Air_Force_Station_Space_Launch_Complex_37

    Krebs, Gunter D. "X37B". Gunter's Space Page. September 27, 2009. Space.Skyrocket.de. April 24, 2010. http://space.skyrocket.de/index_frame.htm?http://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/x-37.htm
     
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  7. draqon Banned Banned

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    oh right I keep on forgeting about White Knight ceiling over SpaceShipOne's ceiling....'
     

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