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Could this have been the planned Space Shuttle replacement all along?

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posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 11:18 AM
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I did a search and found nothing related to this iteration of this craft. My apologies if this has already been covered.

So most of us have heard of the X37b. The top secret government drone sattelite that has been in the news quite a bit this year. Well, I just read an article on Space.com regarding a new possible version of the X37b. Presenting, the X37C.

X37C concept


Grantz explained that a variety of scaled-up versions of the X-37B space plane have been studied as potential vehicles to carry astronauts or cargo into low-Earth orbit. The studies include looks at transport methods for pressurized and unpressurized cargo transport to and from the space station, as well as future Bigelow space habitats or other forms of space tourism in low-Earth orbit. The preferred size of these derivatives is approximately 165 to 180 percent of the current X-37B. The larger X-37C has been blueprinted, sized to support around five to six astronauts with provisions for one that is injured and requires a stretcher. According to designs in Grantz's paper for the Space 2011 conference, crew-carrying portion of a future X-37C type space vehicle would fly in a pressurized compartment that would fit into the payload bay of the spacecraft. The seats would be arranged along one side of the spacecraft to allow room for moving through the spacecraft in orbit and to provide the crew access to seats on the launch pad. A hatch in the main body would be used to provide entry to the space plane on the ground, according to Grantz's paper.


I love the concept and the looks, but I do wish the government was more forthcoming about this tech.


Here is another link I found that is pretty interesting.

More



The development plan is believed to be aimed at providing a larger cargo adjunct to the company’s CST-100 crew vehicle as well as a possible longer-term, crew-carrying successor. The plan builds on the ongoing OTV demonstration with the U.S. Air Force, the first phase of which ended when the classified, unmanned OTV-1 demonstration flight concluded in December 2010 with an autonomous landing at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., following 244 days in orbit. A second mission, OTV-2, is under way.


edit on 9-10-2011 by DerbyCityLights because: Added more info




posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 11:32 AM
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Originally posted by DerbyCityLights


I love the concept and the looks, but I do wish the government was more forthcoming about this tech.



Well considering that the article states that this craft is only an idea in the conceptualization/planning stage, and yet we are reading about, it would seem they are being quite forthcoming!

How much more forthcoming could they be?...



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 11:40 AM
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reply to post by bhornbuckle75
 



Well, comm systems for started. Shell composites, re-entery orientation, Actual payload weights, thrust capabilities...
All the really nerdy stuff.
edit on 9-10-2011 by DerbyCityLights because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 11:41 AM
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reply to post by bhornbuckle75
 


I've also read about a manned X-37 craft, lets let the X-37b OTV-2 land first, and see where this goes. I mean this is Boeing built, one of the best out there, and they are not in the habit of building crafts for no profit.



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 11:45 AM
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reply to post by Illustronic
 



Hasn't the X37b already completed one mission, landed and started another?



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 12:21 PM
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here is a comparison picture from the first link in the OP.




It's a good thing that miniaturization is natural path in terms of physical size on technological advances because the loss of cargo space when compared to the space shuttle means payload weight and footprint are at a premium in this concept.
edit on 9-10-2011 by DerbyCityLights because: added opinion on cargo size



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 12:24 PM
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reply to post by DerbyCityLights
 

The X37B has not been relaunched since it landed last December.



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 12:26 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


But it did land safely. At least it is an operational goal that was met and the lessons learned from this success can be carried over to this next iteration of the space craft.



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 12:48 PM
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The direct answer to the question asked in your .line is: NO!
The trail of the shuttle's purpose and development is quite clear. Equally clear from the first time the word "shuttle" was committed to a NASA whitepaper was the understanding that it, like all technological devices had a limited life-span and value before being superceded by the next phase that should have already been under consideration.

It is quite clear from the lack of any NASA program that the shuttle would not have a similar rocket-powered replacement. Oh, yeah, money was spent on a variety of supposed next-gen craft, but somehow, that never happened. Why would that be when the US had a very well understanding of how to go about that task? Were they merely too slow in the renewal process, incompetent, lazy, stupid or were they thinking in an entirely different direction?

A lot of aerospace enthusiasts I see on ATS can't seem to envision getting beyond some sort of rocket for getting into and through space. They talk about rockets a lot. I've come to suspect that these enthusiasts are either deluding themselves by ignoring the mountain of contrary evidence or are they simply shills carrying the message desired?



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 01:29 PM
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reply to post by DerbyCityLights
 


That is a nice article, thanks for sharing it.

Not being "forthcoming" is because this is an Air Force project. The air force does not wish civilian usage criteria for its design.

The USAF has been at this for over fifty years-- the X-15 being the most famous project. In the 1950's the US was working at spaceflight from two fundamentally different technologies: Planes and Rockets. For planes, three technologies were to be used on a single airframe: a standard turbojet from the surface, ramjet/scramjet technology for efficient supersonic flight, followed by an on-board rocket. Weight of all three motor types was the crippling factor. In the 1960's this concept just could not achieve the needed speeds for orbit given the weight restrictions of airplane flight, and so funding shifted to rockets when Kennedy declared the race to the moon was on.

The X-15 used a B-52 to reach altitude and sub-sonic speed, and after released from under the wing, the rocket motor did the rest-- but still, the options were high speed in the atmosphere or a brief, non-orbital trip into space. By the late 1960's the Shuttle was already being designed as the successor to the Apollo.

You need a lot of wing to lift the weight from the ground, so you see the technology shift into the "lifting body." Still the mathematics forced vertical launch rather than horizontal take off, even though it did achieve winged landings. Lighter airframes, Lifting body technology, more powerful and efficient jet engine technology, and unmanned precision flight experience (via UAVs) and it seems obvious that the Air Force believes that the ultimate "space-plane" dream is achievable.

It looks to me that the USAF has provided proof of concept and immediate application of each essential new technology with the intent of combining them all into a manned vehicle which will use a drone runway launch vehicle. The cost advantages of not requiring the enormous and costly specialized launch complexes can make space travel truly routine and generally affordable.

Even the Falcon project is using the Minotaur IV rockets, but I think the ultimate goal of that smaller-than-ultimate-design-scale project is winged, horizontal take-off.

All that is to say...
1) Not "more forthcoming" because of the military application.
2) Not "more forthcoming: because the total concept has not yet succeeded.
3) Planned as successor to Shuttle all along? Yes and No. The Orion capsule and Command Module is the successor for heavy payloads and extra-orbital needs, and the X-37 series a proof-of-concept for orbital activities and small payloads.

I speculate, idly, that the still lacking booster (no final design and no contact award) in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 is, in part, regarding the anticipated needs (or, perhaps and more importantly, lack thereof) to accommodate the larger x-37 your article mentions. The delay in choosing a manufacturer may hint that the Air Force believes it is near a break-through in its own runway launch platform. If so, that is truly "Top- Secret."



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 01:46 PM
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Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by DerbyCityLights
 

The X37B has not been relaunched since it landed last December.

Are you sure?

I believe I read of amateur astronomers tracking it for a bit until it changed orbit. This, too, sounds familiar: USA-226

Oh, just found this: www.ulalaunch.com...#/66/



edit on 9-10-2011 by Frira because: added new link



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 02:27 PM
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For when/if we ever want to get serious about space travel - start spinning the super-conductors!

"Gravity Control Technologies"
www.gctspace.com...

"AlienScientist Antigravity (Mass Reduction)"
alienscientist.com...

"Coupled Gravitational Fields - A New Paradigm for Propulsion Science"
www.hpcc-space.de...


A Better Shuttle...



edit on 10/9/2011 by Larryman because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 05:22 PM
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Originally posted by DerbyCityLights
reply to post by bhornbuckle75
 



Well, comm systems for started. Shell composites, re-entery orientation, Actual payload weights, thrust capabilities...
All the really nerdy stuff.
edit on 9-10-2011 by DerbyCityLights because: (no reason given)


True, but since the manned version is still in development I doubt any of those things are set in stone yet....I guess my original point is, they are being very forthcoming...I mean the manned ship hasn't even been built yet, and they are still letting us know about it. I mean, how many years was The Blackbird or the U2 operating before even the Idea of them were made public. (I know..those are purely military projects so it's comparing apples and oranges...but still)



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 07:58 PM
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To be honest I don't see the point of having wings and even engines on the orbiter. Look at the space shuttle. It is about 80 tons dead weight that had to be lifted each time into orbit. A capsule with a parachute would have achieved the same for a fraction of the weight/costs. Keep it simple stupid. But then you would have to find something else to keep your engineers busy I guess.



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 08:17 PM
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Originally posted by bhornbuckle75

Originally posted by DerbyCityLights
reply to post by bhornbuckle75
 



Well, comm systems for started. Shell composites, re-entery orientation, Actual payload weights, thrust capabilities...
All the really nerdy stuff.
edit on 9-10-2011 by DerbyCityLights because: (no reason given)


True, but since the manned version is still in development I doubt any of those things are set in stone yet....I guess my original point is, they are being very forthcoming...I mean the manned ship hasn't even been built yet, and they are still letting us know about it. I mean, how many years was The Blackbird or the U2 operating before even the Idea of them were made public. (I know..those are purely military projects so it's comparing apples and oranges...but still)


What are you guys talking about. You've heard of "stealth" aircraft right? Then I would assume being on ATS you would know the f-117 which was announced to the public in '89 was first Flown in '72. And you expect "forthcoming" and "in stone" now?



posted on Oct, 9 2011 @ 10:52 PM
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I don't believe it ever going to be manned.

I believe its going to be used as a unmanned intelligence platform for the military and/or the NSA/NRO

They will be used for 1 to 2 years missions and returned for reuse/upgrade then flown again.

Over the years as the US put up intelligence satellites some countries have changed the frequencies they use for there military and other uses.
This has left gaps in the ability of the US to lesson in till they put up other satellites to cover those radio bands.

There are a lot of old spy satellites up there and using a reusable one would be a advantage in the long run as space gets crowded.



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 04:16 AM
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Atleast there making something to get us back in space hitchiking sucks. But the loss in payload will be are downfall. I remeber sooo many next gen shuttles when i was growing up and they all got cancled. Figured by now they would be trying to make a ship that never lands and stays in space (like interconecting boxes 50x50x50 ) so after 36 launches you would have a massive ship and all you would need is fuel and a engine of some sort. would be cheaper for the end result of labs, tourism, eventual moon, mars travel. makes no sence spending all this cash to send it up just to bring it back down.
edit on 10-10-2011 by warsight because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 04:39 AM
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The X-37b OTV-1 maiden voyage landed last December, (3rd?). The second X-37B OTV-2 was launched in March and has been in earth orbit for 212 days on its way to its full 270 day mission.

X-37b OTV-2

Some guy on Space.com photographed OTV-2.

x37b-space-plane-skywatchers

The date clearly states March 24, 2011.



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 05:18 AM
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Originally posted by Illustronic
The X-37b OTV-1 maiden voyage landed last December, (3rd?). The second X-37B OTV-2 was launched in March and has been in earth orbit for 212 days on its way to its full 270 day mission.

X-37b OTV-2

Some guy on Space.com photographed OTV-2.

x37b-space-plane-skywatchers

The date clearly states March 24, 2011.


Thanks for that Illustronic. I thought I had read somewhere that the craft was on its second mission for 270 days but I couldn't find where I read it.



posted on Oct, 10 2011 @ 05:30 AM
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There is a new manned shuttle already in development for some time, scheduled to be launched towards ISS in 2014:

Dream Chaser




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