Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane this month

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posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 09:38 PM
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LOS ANGELES – After a decade of development, the Air Force this month plans to launch a robotic spacecraft resembling a small space shuttle to conduct technology tests in orbit and then glide home to a California runway.
Wow , this came out of no where . I never even heard this hinted about and its launching this month.
news.yahoo.com...

[edit on 3-4-2010 by bluemooone2]




posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 09:43 PM
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reply to post by bluemooone2
 


wow, that is really cool looking. looks like it's wings are a bit to small though,
maybe they extend out in flight? still , cool find S&F!



posted on Apr, 3 2010 @ 09:55 PM
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reply to post by baddmove
 

It does look cool)
I guess it does not need wide wings because it will be launched with a rocket.


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 will be launched like a satellite, housed in a fairing atop an expendable Atlas V rocket, and deploy solar panels to provide electrical power in orbit.



posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 03:10 AM
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This is interesting. Now with the Shuttle soon to decomission and with Obama cancelling the Moon Missions (which would bring in the shuttle's replacements), maybe the USAF may take over in the production of space vehicles as it was before NASA?

Anyway this is my first post. I've been reading threads on this site for 2 years now. I finally decided to sign up!



posted on Apr, 4 2010 @ 02:07 PM
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reply to post by bluemooone2
 


The wings aren't for launch.. In fact they would create more drag and thus require more $/kg to put into orbit.
They are for creating more drag during descent so as to allow for conventional fixed wing landing (just like the space shuttle).
So yes they could be swung out during descent (after re-entry?).
But that would create a weak point for re-entry heating?

Also looks like the heat shield tiling is much higher up at the nose side. Possibly to allow for a deeper re-entry angle if required and therefore larger re-entry windows as opposed to the space shuttle? more flexibility in where and when one can de-orbit and re-enter I presume.



posted on Apr, 5 2010 @ 02:34 AM
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Guys, maybe I am imagining things, but it does appear as if this vehicle is already well into middle age. Look at the stains between the tile joins - I'd say this little baby has seen more action than Lindsay Lohan...



posted on Apr, 6 2010 @ 05:30 PM
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Originally posted by Borys
Guys, maybe I am imagining things, but it does appear as if this vehicle is already well into middle age. Look at the stains between the tile joins - I'd say this little baby has seen more action than Lindsay Lohan...


Borys,

I was thinking exactly the same thing. Obviously the pic shows a version that has seen more than 1 launch and reentry. 9.5 feet tall and about 30 long, that is a little bit smaller than a 'double wide'. With zero g's you could probably bunk 3 operators for 30 days in something that size.

M



posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 07:37 AM
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Originally posted by masawa

Originally posted by Borys
Guys, maybe I am imagining things, but it does appear as if this vehicle is already well into middle age. Look at the stains between the tile joins - I'd say this little baby has seen more action than Lindsay Lohan...


Borys,

I was thinking exactly the same thing. Obviously the pic shows a version that has seen more than 1 launch and reentry. 9.5 feet tall and about 30 long, that is a little bit smaller than a 'double wide'. With zero g's you could probably bunk 3 operators for 30 days in something that size.

M


I just wonder why on earth no one from the powers that be spotted this, unless it is a deliberate leak i.e. "OK, shuttle programme may be slowly grinding to a halt, but we're not sitting on our hands. Oh look, we've actually launched this bugger a few times..."

I have a strange feeling all this talk of the US ceding space to Russia and China is just baloney. America has something else and has had it for a while - the shuttle is being retired because it is no longer needed.



posted on Apr, 7 2010 @ 11:39 AM
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When I first read this thread I thought, “Geez, have all these people been living in a cave?” This program has been in development for a more than a decade and it hasn’t been a secret.

During the mid 1990s, a competition to develop a small reusable space plane resulted in a successful design from Boeing. In October 1996, the Air Force Research Laboratory's Military Space Plane Technology (MiST) office awarded Boeing a contract to build a subscale technology demonstrator called the Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV, later designated X-40A) to test the final low-speed approach and landing phase of the return from space. The X-40A first flew on 11 August 1998 after being dropped from a UH-60L helicopter, and successfully flew to an automatic landing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

In 1996, NASA had initiated a research effort to evaluate various reusable launch vehicle technologies using low-cost "Pathfinder" vehicles. By late 1996, NASA had reserved the X-37 designator for use with one of the as yet unspecified pathfinder craft. In 1998, Boeing submitted a proposal to build a spacecraft based on its X-40A/SMV design. This subsequently became the X-37, a 120%-scaled up version of the X-40.

In early 2000, the Air Force loaned the X-40A to NASA to serve as a risk-reduction technology demonstrator for the X-37 program. Primary test objectives for the X-40A included validation of vehicle shape, guidance, flight control, and navigation systems and software. The X-40A arrived at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, California on 19 May 2000. Carried to release altitude by a CH-47D helicopter, the X-40A made seven captive flights and seven free flights. I had the opportunity to watch several of these flights from either the control room or adjacent to the runway.

The original plan called for the X-37 to be carried into space inside the Space Shuttle’s cargo bay and released for automatic landings. In 2002, however, plans were revised to include one X-37A Approach and Landing Test Vehicle (ALTV) for atmospheric drop tests and one X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV).

In 2004, due to NASA policy changes, control of the X-37A program was transferred to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Plans to drop the X-37A from a B-52H were scrapped and the Scaled Composites "White Knight" aircraft (carrier of the "SpaceShip One" X-Prize vehicle) became the ALTV carrier aircraft. Following several captive flights, the X-37A made its first free flight on 7 April 2006. I watched the landing from the Edwards South Base complex near the main runway. The flight itself was highly successful but the vehicle ran off the end of the runway after touchdown, damaging the nose landing gear. A second flight on 18 August was uneventful and the third and final flight took place on 26 September.

Orbital testing is scheduled to begin this year. Test objectives for the X-37B OTV include risk-reduction, experimentation, and operational concept development for reusable space vehicle technologies, in support of long-term developmental space objectives. The X-37B is to be launched on top of an Atlas V expendable rocket booster from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, with a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The mission will test the vehicle's navigation, guidance and control systems, as well as the autonomous reentry and landing sequence.

Having lived with this thing for nearly 14 years, I guess I just assumed that everybody knew about it. For anyone following space plane development, the X-40 and X-37 projects received extensive coverage in the aviation press and related Internet sites.



posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 10:32 PM
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just wanted to say Popular Mechanics had a pretty good article on the X-37 in this months magazine.


Pop Mech - May issue



posted on Apr, 18 2010 @ 11:52 AM
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I saw this pretty cool picture of the X-37, and had to post it.


Hope she has a successful launch on the 21st.





[edit on 18-4-2010 by Murcielago]



posted on Apr, 18 2010 @ 03:02 PM
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Originally posted by Daedalus3
reply to post by bluemooone2
 


The wings aren't for launch.. In fact they would create more drag and thus require more $/kg to put into orbit.
They are for creating more drag during descent so as to allow for conventional fixed wing landing (just like the space shuttle).
So yes they could be swung out during descent (after re-entry?).
But that would create a weak point for re-entry heating?


Absolutely no need for variable sweep wings on space vehicles - simply add an aerodynamic fairing covering the entire vehicle for launch, discard when out of the atmosphere and you have the same effect with no drag penalty at all.



posted on Apr, 18 2010 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by bluemooone2
 


Being so much smaller it should be cheaper to launch...
remember the original shuttle was built to place Hubble up there... this thing wont have to do anything bigger than a spy satellite or multi warhead nuke... there, pretty small without a booster ya know



posted on Apr, 18 2010 @ 03:37 PM
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this is the future of space travel. if you can launch several of these things for pennies on the dollar to a space shuttle you can get a whole lot more done in orbit and around the moon/mars. i imagine not only will warfare become more automated, but space and ocean exploration is going to be dominated by these types of craft, to get to the hard to reach places the average man cant get to



posted on Apr, 18 2010 @ 03:57 PM
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Originally posted by jakemill
this is the future of space travel. if you can launch several of these things for pennies on the dollar to a space shuttle you can get a whole lot more done in orbit and around the moon/mars. i imagine not only will warfare become more automated, but space and ocean exploration is going to be dominated by these types of craft, to get to the hard to reach places the average man cant get to

Absolutely true! I just wish this was not a military craft. Looks like could be used for nukes , possibly for EMP purposes , and maybe killing satellite killers. What im wondering tho , is what type of cameras are on this thing??


[edit on 18-4-2010 by bluemooone2]



posted on Apr, 22 2010 @ 07:45 PM
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It launched.

"X-37B – lifted off at 7:52 p.m. EDT (2352 GMT)"

source:
www.space.com...



posted on Apr, 22 2010 @ 08:05 PM
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Ahhh!

BOO!

The Shuttle gets the shaft.


The Orion program looks LAME


While the Air Force gets the new Toy.






[edit on 22-4-2010 by SLAYER69]



posted on Apr, 22 2010 @ 08:15 PM
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reply to post by SLAYER69
 


Slayer69... do you think they are going for the 'mystery object' that is near Earth each month?



posted on Apr, 22 2010 @ 08:15 PM
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reply to post by Larryman
 



Actually, I'm sure if they need something done that requires an EVA they'll probably use this guy. That would include nabbing stuff from space.

Meet R2!


NASA: Humanoid robot slated to live on space station

Computerworld - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are slated to get an interesting new roommate later this year.

A 300-pound humanoid robot, dubbed Robonaut 2 (R2), will be transported to the space station aboard the NASA space shuttle Discovery in September -- one of the final scheduled shuttle missions. Jointly developed by NASA and General Motors Corp., the robot will become a permanent resident on the orbiting station.


[edit on 22-4-2010 by SLAYER69]



posted on Apr, 22 2010 @ 08:37 PM
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This type of craft is not specifically designed for a particular role, such as intelligence gathering, warhead delivery, etc. The key to a spacecraft of this sort is the multi-role capabilities. With a significant internal content capbility, it could easily be fitted with gear for intelligence-gathering, while the same craft could also be modified for simple cargo transport, while still having the ability to take up an inertial upper stage for launching satellites into low-Earth-orbit, mid-altitude, or even geosynchronized on-station functions.

While the experimental phase launches will be primarily from the Cape, one key to understanding operational capabilities will be whether the launch site will include Vandenburg in trans-polar orbital selection. The implications of that would greatly increase concern from our knowledgable adversaries. From the Cape, the highest inclination possible, normally, will be 57 degrees, with the lowest inclination being 28.45 degrees. That is why the European Space Agency has a significant launch advantage by creating their launch site in South America, right near the equator If they were to use their launch site for this craft, it would be much easier to disguise our operational intentions.





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