US military's top secret X-37B shuttle 'disappears' for two weeks, changes orbit

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posted on Oct, 16 2010 @ 06:27 AM
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Well, the Air Force does have quite a few satellites in space it uses for numerous purposes (from spy satellites to communications and other optical applications not related to espionage). With the loss of the space shuttle comes the loss of ability to maintain those satellites. Understandably, they don't want to outsource this to other countries.

I would imagine that is this thing's primary purpose, and related to the cause of a detour.

Of course, as to why it "disappeared" - anything from a secret mission to an operational error that took two weeks to recover from (considering it's rather new, and the new degree of patience one can have in dealing with this unmanned space-craft, an "oh #" is not a reason to scrap the mission and burn up a bunch of fuel to preserve the lives of the crew). In all likelihood, it was probably stopping off to deploy or service a satellite that the rest of the world doesn't need to know about.

Honestly, though, they can just send the thing up there and put it on a 'holding' pattern (the orbit everyone knows about) and then wait for a satellite within the array to come due for service - take a jog over to it, then resume the holding pattern until it is necessary to re-enter and resupply. So, it doesn't even have to be a 'secret' satellite it ventured off to.




posted on Oct, 16 2010 @ 01:55 PM
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Originally posted by Aim64C
Honestly, though, they can just send the thing up there and put it on a 'holding' pattern (the orbit everyone knows about) and then wait for a satellite within the array to come due for service - take a jog over to it, then resume the holding pattern until it is necessary to re-enter and resupply. So, it doesn't even have to be a 'secret' satellite it ventured off to.


Uhm, that would take huge amounts of reserve fuel in order to carry out such a mission - in reality, the "disappearance" is more likely nothing more than a minor orbital change (one which doesn't need much fuel in comparison to your suggestion) which everyone missed because no one was watching - several minor orbital changes in quick succession would allow the operational team to test the control package, navigational package and communications package pretty comprehensively.

I also don't see an unmanned craft being capable of complex servicing missions in the manner you describe.



posted on Oct, 16 2010 @ 03:16 PM
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It Went MIA and then showed up again the day IRAN has a "fire" in an underground ballistic missile storage facility.

RODS FROM GOD... some of the estimates I've read give even something that size a pretty sizeable magazine capacity if they loaded it with nothing but them. (under 100 kilos per rod and deorbit package is one of the estimates I saw) and when you figure 50kg of that is the tungsten ROD you have a pretty deniable bunker buster ... and there seem to be quite a few mine explosions going on lately... What better way to beta test your new weapon than to drop one on a low strategic value mine of a nation that's been getting a little aggressive lately like oh say china?

I get the feeling that there is a story here we will probably NEVER KNOW



posted on Oct, 17 2010 @ 09:40 AM
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reply to post by RichardPrice
 


With the advances in robotics, I don't see manned service missions being pursued much. Robots poses a higher degree of dexterity, superior stability, and the advantage of being networked to digital computer systems. In theory - you could service a satellite without the need of cameras - a CAD model could be uploaded and simple pressure sensors used to establish a few reference points and the entire operation guided from a virtual model. Adding a camera and human operators on the ground is certainly recommended - but not entirely necessary.

Until we can reduce space suits to the bulkiness of our casual work clothing - there's not much a human can do in space that robotic arms would not be far superior at. And even then - humans would only be cost-effective in applications that extend beyond practical limitations of the robot's design. At which point, one must seriously consider the cost-effectiveness of extending the operational life of that satellite versus building and launching a new one.

As for satellites - it really depends upon what satellite they are wanting to service. Geosynchronous orbits are considerably different from circular or parabolic orbits, and the type of satellite would determine the amount of fuel consumed. However - it would be far more practical to service satellites from a platform already in orbit than having to launch a new vehicle into orbit every time you need to service something.

Additionally, since it is unmanned, it is not confined to the same time restrictions - uses of lower-impulse but higher efficiency thrust methods would be far more practical when you are not having to feed and support human life that entire time.

That said - I'm not familiar with the practical application of all the physics involved. You may very well be correct in your assertion that it would require too much fuel.



posted on Oct, 17 2010 @ 05:30 PM
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If you watch the brilliant pebbles hover test videos you can hear the secret to high efficiency high impulse propulsion...

That buzzz..... CRAACKK CRACK CRAAAACK sound is electrically enhanced propulsion.

disclaimer: In my opinion anyway



posted on Oct, 17 2010 @ 09:45 PM
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reply to post by roguetechie
 


VASMIR is one of the highest impulse and highest thrust designs available... it's not very useful within an atmosphere, and can't begin to touch the thrust that can be delivered by chemical propellants. Yet, at least.

Most of my designs rely on VASMIR-derived engines for Newtonian navigation (souped up with magical futuristic technology, naturally). The inherent thrust-vectoring capability is where this type of drive wins hands-down. It won't be very useful for docking or some such thing as that - but it would make general orbital and planetary intercept corrections much less of a chore.



posted on Oct, 18 2010 @ 01:15 AM
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Biggest problem with spy-sats is that they're almost never where you need them to be when you need them to be there.

The big sats, the ones we park in a geosynchronous orbit over some specific spot on the globe, are difficult, and expensive to re-position; assuming they can be re-tasked in real time.

Smaller, special purpose sats orbiting in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) may be sonewhat more flexible, but they still suffer from the physics of orbital mechanics: they're only over the target area for a small portion of their, very predictable, orbits.


Now suppose you could launch a "string" of "micro" satellites, each no bigger than say, a soccer ball, from a purpose-built "mothership" shuttle.


The micro-sats would be deployed, like pearls on a string, at specific points along a useful orbit, and would thus provide vitually continuous coverage of a desired point on the ground by over-flying that point in sequence.

The micro-sats would be capable of a form of "Flocking Behaviour", each sat communicating with its immediate neighbors to maintain proper spacing along the chosen orbit to ensure continuous coverage.

The "mothership" could also carry replacement units in case of malfunction, and would re-collect the "Flock" for their return to Earth for re-furbishment and re-use.

The mothership would wat patiently in an adjacent "parking" orbit while her "children" accomplished the mission.


And then they would all "Fly Away, Fly Away, Fly Away Home!"



posted on Nov, 1 2010 @ 07:35 AM
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Follow up question (and a bit of a bump!):



Can anyone on board calculate just how many satellites would be required, if all were placed in the same orbit at regular intervals (like pearls on a necklace), to provide continuous (or synthetically continuous) coverage of a spot on Earth?


For arguement's sake, lets say the spot cover an area the size of a military base, and the altitude of the satellites (the orbital altitude at insertion) was about 195 miles.



posted on Nov, 2 2010 @ 02:03 PM
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That is entirelly dependent on the type of sensor you are wanting to get full time coverage with.. in the case of visual it gets even more complicated with aperature and lens size as well as resolution factors coming in...
I have no idea in other words... It's also dependent on your satellites orbital path... technically you could do it just fine with a single satellite you would just need to have the satellite use it's maneuvering system pretty much constantly to stay in place...

Or maybe you could do this... deploy in low orbit over your observation target this week a series of reflectors evenly spaced x degrees apart that are prismatic in nature and designed to work as a sort of periscope type array for a single satellite in a higher orbit which then orients it's sensor arrays towards the reflectors as each one is over the target area...

This would be the most economical method IMO if you could get it to work because you could deploy 4 to 8 of the big sats and have worldwide coverage on demand just by deploying disposable string of pearls type reflector arrays to the Hot Spot of the Week with your x37 .



posted on Nov, 23 2010 @ 10:46 PM
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It didn't actually disappear for two weeks, it make a big orbital angle change that's why it took the sky watchers so long to find it again. And it makes these changes aerodynamically using it's wings instead of with rocket motors like every other satellite does. The X-37 wings allow it to make major orbit changes using much less fuel than a normal satellite, it does this with a small re-entry burn to get down into the upper atmosphere, makes a hypersonic aerodynamic turn of up to 90 degrees, then does another small burn to boost back into orbit. That capability would allow it to be over any spot on earth in a short amount of time. It probably could do a half dozen major orbit changes like this before running out of fuel. On another thread they said it might have a laser weapon, and that is entirely possible. Why else would you make an expensive craft that could be over any spot on earth in 30 to 60 minutes unless it's to attack a target? Now you guys just need to figure out what runs the laser, the solar panel looks too small. Remember you heard it here first!!



posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 01:56 PM
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reply to post by SLAYER69
 

Slayer is correct. It is real.
However look at the control surfaces in this photo of The Real X-37.
To enlarge the photo, open up MS word. Then right click on the image and use the “copy image” option. Next, go to your word document and “paste” the image to the document. Now “drag” the corner of the photo diagonally to the outer margin. Next use the document enlarger command in the tool bar. You can now see the image with some small pixalation.
upload.wikimedia.org...
Now compare it with the model of the X-37 in the OP’s provided link.
spaceflightnow.com...
Next, look at the landing gear of the real x-37.
www.abovetopsecret.com...
Now compare the landing gear of the model at SpaceFlightnow.
spaceflightnow.com...
They are different. They are different because SpaceFlightNow is using photos of a model, and not the real bird. And I still question the authenticity of the first photo. The model has to rest on concrete blocks because it can’t support it’s own weight. And then it has to be carted around on it’s own Hollywood trailer and non-gobermnt pick-up truck.
For crying out loud! It’s not even a Pintle trailer hitch! Really! Towing a 100 million dollar bird around on this thing!
I’m not discrediting the OP, only stating that the SpaceFlightNow photos Are Not Real.
No way, not today, and not tomorrow.



posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 01:58 PM
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Originally posted by TimBrummer
It didn't actually disappear for two weeks, it make a big orbital angle change that's why it took the sky watchers so long to find it again. And it makes these changes aerodynamically using it's wings instead of with rocket motors like every other satellite does. The X-37 wings allow it to make major orbit changes using much less fuel than a normal satellite, it does this with a small re-entry burn to get down into the upper atmosphere, makes a hypersonic aerodynamic turn of up to 90 degrees, then does another small burn to boost back into orbit. That capability would allow it to be over any spot on earth in a short amount of time. It probably could do a half dozen major orbit changes like this before running out of fuel. On another thread they said it might have a laser weapon, and that is entirely possible. Why else would you make an expensive craft that could be over any spot on earth in 30 to 60 minutes unless it's to attack a target? Now you guys just need to figure out what runs the laser, the solar panel looks too small. Remember you heard it here first!!



Wow Tim,
I absolutely agree with you.

No secret her, but you can see a warning sign on one of the photos of the craft and it states,"Ammonia Vent."
Guess what that is for.
laserstars.org...
edit on 31-12-2010 by Violater1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 02:14 PM
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reply to post by Violater1
 



spaceflightnow.com...
Next, look at the landing gear of the real x-37.



That's not the "Real" one.
The photo was of a "Prototype" which was a test bed from a few years ago. The one you think is the "Real" one was a scaled down model which was testing it's glide ability once it was released from a plane.

edit on 31-12-2010 by SLAYER69 because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 02:19 PM
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reply to post by SLAYER69
 



I agree.
I posted this in the wrong thread.
However, look at the landing gear. This little bird can land on it's own, and the gear won't collapse.


jra

posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 02:35 PM
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Originally posted by Violater1
No secret her, but you can see a warning sign on one of the photos of the craft and it states,"Ammonia Vent."
Guess what that is for.
laserstars.org...


Ammonia is used on the Space Shuttle and ISS as a coolant for getting rid of unwanted heat. I would imagine that the X-37 is no different.



posted on Dec, 31 2010 @ 02:53 PM
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reply to post by Violater1
 


Some have even speculated that it does have a "crew member"
A military version of this guy.




The world’s first space robot plans to launch Nov. 1

Robonaut 2 robot is very close to humans from the structure, with a human torso, head and arms, is a joint NASA and General Motors design, planning to complete the International Space Station to help astronauts work and maintenance tasks sporadic.



Notice on the vehicle there is a "Hatch" on the back half of the craft? Who needs a giant robotic arm to deploy or retrieve items when we have one of these up there.
edit on 31-12-2010 by SLAYER69 because: (no reason given)





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