posted on Jun, 5 2012 @ 06:44 AM
Frankly, I don't have a clue what the Air Force was doing up there for a year...I'll be honest, and put that on the table right up front.
There are some things that are known, or can be guessed with fair accuracy, though:
1) At least one of the stated goals of the flight was to test the long-term on-orbit capabilities of the vehicle. The best way to test those
capabilities would be (at least in my opinion) to keep it up as long as possible. The fact that "as long as possible" was a year would seem to
indicate a fairly good outcome for this phase of testing, but doesn't, in itself, indicate any hostile or conspiratorial intent.
2) Ground crews approaching the vehicle in "biohazard suits"...(I'd bet they were haz-mat suits, actually) isn't terribly unusual either, believe
it or not. You'd see the same suits worn by recovery crews that de-fueled returned Space Shuttles, and you'll see them in McGregor TX when SpaceX
does the final unloads on the Dragon that just got back from the ISS. Most of the fuels and oxidizing agents used in spacecraft thrusters are at the
very least dangerous, and at the worst, down-right deadly. It's common sense and common practice to suit up in appropriate clothing when fueling
vehicles before launch, and when de-fueling after landing. The "Radiation counters" could be air-sampling packs, to determine if (and to what
extent) propellants were leaking from the vehicle. If I were part of the ground team, I'd certainly be carrying sampling equipment...I'd want to
know *yesterday* if there was a liquid oxygen or hydrogen leak...and those are about the nicest things that you'll find leaking from a spacecraft,
believe it or not.
3) I doubt there were any offensive weapons aboard, for a variety of reasons. For one, even though the mission was classified, the vehicle itself was
the subject of fairly intensive scrutiny...not good if you're planning some sort of covert operation. It could have been a distraction,
though...particularly since every time it started fading out of the headlines, the USAF would remind us that it was still up there. While we're
watching the Super Secret Space Plane, who knows what was going up on a Delta or Atlas? :-D
I certainly wouldn't rule out an intelligence-gathering role for the craft...I also wouldn't rule out a pure bluff, running it as though it had
intelligence gathering capability even if it didn't, just to make the Chinese take note.