Read this earlier in the day, thought it would be of interest on this subject somewhat:
Robot space elevator
Orbital Sciences Corp., Greenbelt, Md., is being awarded a $94,713,285 cost-plus-fixed-fee level of effort contract for spacecraft and airborne systems research analysis and prototype development. This includes the analysis, design, development, test, operation demonstration, and transition of these prototype systems and subsystems. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. (87 percent), and Greenbelt, Md. (13 percent), and will be completed April 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $100,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured under Request for Proposal Number N000173-00-R-KS03 for which one offer was received. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting facility (N000173-10-C-2026).
"Perform aircraft or spacecraft bench & flight line operational checkout, trouble-shooting, adjustment and repair of electrical or electronic system, modify other electronic test equipment as directed."
Originally posted by TAGBOARD
Additionally, why did they choose the C-17 as the mothership? Perhaps the primary purpose of this test is the integration of deployment of a space asset out of the back of a C-17? Maybe just a coincidence.
Originally posted by Catalytic
On a more realistic note...
Tagboard, I saw this elsewhere appologies if you have seen this already
Responsive Air Launch
Two United States Transportation Command DoD Couriers with personal baggage and airline provided sealable canisters of various sizes based on cargo weight (average weights per route subject to change) according to the following schedule:
Baltimore to Sacramento approximately 4,800 lbs weekly
Sacramento to Baltimore approximately 4,200 lbs weekly
Baltimore to San Antonio approximately 2,500 lbs weekly
San Antonio to Baltimore approximately 1,900 lbs weekly
Baltimore to Omaha approximately 3,500 lbs bi-weekly
Omaha to Baltimore approximately 2,100 lbs bi-weekly
Sacramento to Seattle approximately 900 lbs bi-weekly
Seattle to Sacramento approximately 450 lbs bi-weekly
(Preferred airports: BWI, Sacramento, San Antonio, Omaha, Seattle. Other airports in the Baltimore (Dulles, Regan, etc.) and Sacramento (San Francisco) area could be used.)
- Prefer all flights to be conducted roundtrip. However couriers can remain overnight if required and return next day.
- On departing flights the canisters must be under constant observation of ground Couriers until the aircraft cargo door is sealed.
- On arriving flights ground couriers must be positioned to view the cargo doors opening and then must observe the containers being removed from the belly of the aircraft. The container must be kept in constant view of the Couriers.
Could it be for use with the new military space plane as a launch and/or recovery platform? That would be useful...imagine that - a stealthy transport that could be refueled by say - equally stealthy tankers - that could reach anywhere in the world undetected to launch and/or recover a hypersonic platform that could observe or attack any spot on the globe within an hour - a stated goal of the Pentagon.