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Air Force's X-37B 'mini-shuttle' shrouded in secrecy (launch scheduled for Dec 11, 2012)

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posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 08:25 PM
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Air Force's X-37B 'mini-shuttle' shrouded in secrecy



Spacecraft leaves scientists worldwide scratching their heads




CAPE CANAVERAL — The military’s mysterious mini-shuttle is set to launch this week on a classified mission that has captured the imaginations of everyone from amateur satellite trackers to anti-nuclear protestors and potential military adversaries Russia and China.

Built by Boeing’s secretive Phantom Works in Huntington Beach, Calif., the Air Force X-37B spacecraft is rumored to be everything from a space bomber to a satellite-killer or a test-bed for advanced spy satellite sensors. The Air Force is revealing little.

“Inquiring minds want to know, right?” said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a leading source of defense, space and intelligence information. “But posing this question presumes that (the mini-shuttle) does serve some specific purpose. And I think that might be imposing greater rationality on the whole thing than is warranted.”


Source Article: FloridaToday.com
Additional Source: USAToday.com

Well if there was anything that is shrouded in conspiracy, it's this contraption. The last mission it was in space 15 months. I didn't see this launch posted on NASA's Launch Schedule site for 2012.

Figured the news of this launch would be a good addition to the forum for discussion, given the secrecy. I am sure that there are numerous notions on the actual purpose of this craft. Perhaps with the power of collaboration and brain storming the ATS membership can make some viable deductions.

Personally, I think it is some type of advanced surveillance craft. Wasn't Bin Laden "found" while this thing was on its first mission?
edit on 12/9/2012 by UberL33t because: edited NASA portion per post by Zaphod58 below




posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 08:29 PM
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Must be Bruce Willis coming to save the day.



posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 08:35 PM
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Originally posted by UberL33t

Well if there was anything that is shrouded in conspiracy, it's this contraption. The last mission it was in space 15 months. I didn't see this launch posted on NASA's Launch Schedule site for 2012.


It has nothing to do with NASA, so they won't put it on the schedule of their launches.

It was originally supposed to go into orbit in October, but an Atlas launch suffered engine problems on the upper stage, so the Air Force chose to delay the launch until they figured out what the problem was. They use different engines on the Atlas, and the Delta, but they have a lot of commonality in parts. So to be on the safe side, they chose to wait until the investigation was complete.

This will be the second launch of this particular vehicle, the third of the program. The first remained up for 224 days, the second remained in orbit for 469 days.



posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 09:13 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


Thank you for the clarification. I presumed that since it was launching from the Cape, that NASA would have some hand in it. But they did vacate the premises for all intent and purposes I suppose.



posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 09:45 PM
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reply to post by Zaphod58
 


With that, would you care to venture an educated guess on the purpose of these missions?



posted on Dec, 9 2012 @ 10:46 PM
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Heres my take on this bird....
I believe it is actually a multi role .....
It wouldnt surprise me if there are several pakages planned for the storage /weapons bay or whatever passes for the buisness area of the vehicle.....
Id be willing to bet that a very sensitive spy package fits aboard
and can be replaced by either "rods from the Gods"(tungsten rods that are kinetic weapons.....)
Or a "dial a megaton" type RV or even MRVwith more than one warhead.....
It is possible the directed energy or laser weapons now being developed may also be installed for satelite killing.....
The job could be performed by cheaper conventional gear as well....the automatic cannon or grenade launcher could etc....
This vehicle could also place mini spy satelites in orbit over hot spots with geosychrous orbit.
The payload is what determines the mission parameters of the vehicle.
We can only speculate............
edit on 9-12-2012 by stirling because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 02:41 AM
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reply to post by UberL33t
 


The first mission was probably a combination of testing and reconnaissance. The testing would be verification of the systems and that it responds to what they tell it to do.

The second flight had an orbit that went over the same place every two days or so, so they were most likely looking at something specific. I'm sure it has some very advanced sensors that can be installed in the payload bay (as small as it is).



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 07:52 AM
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You didnt think there up there doing pure scientific research did you!

The payload is what we need to figure out....
The overall weight minus the nessessary and theres the payload....any guesses?



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 07:54 AM
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reply to post by stirling
 


You'll never know what the payload is. There is no way to figure out how much weight it can carry, or even if you could, how much it's carrying on that launch. And even if you could figure all that out, there is so much that could fit in that weight class, that it's not even funny.



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 09:57 AM
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reply to post by stirling
 


I suspect that the space plane is going about it's business seeding space with Brilliant Pebbles...



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 01:34 PM
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Here's one guy's research paper on this: www.dtic.mil...

I think that, basically, it's just the military's unmanned version of the Shuttle.



posted on Dec, 10 2012 @ 06:08 PM
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The launch anomaly that grounded the X-37 was traced to a fuel leak in the engine chamber of an RL10 engine. This was during the October 4 launch of the GPS IIIF-3 satellite. It was successfully put into orbit, but the upper stage RL10 suffered reduced thrust. The Atlas V501 that will launch the X-37 uses the RL10 as well, and will be borescoped before launch, to check for any potential problems.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:25 PM
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reply to post by UberL33t
 


I guess nobody cares that 12/21 is coming up and this thing is going back into orbit 10 days before the supposed end of the world... Makes me wonder if they are monitoring something that they are not telling us about???

I don't see 12/21 as a doom and gloom date at all but this thing launching now has me a little concerned...



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 01:27 PM
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reply to post by knowledgedesired
 


It was supposed to be up in October. They delayed the launch until they figured out what the problem was with another rocket that uses the same type of engine as the one that carries the X-37 into orbit. It took them awhile to find the problem, and to figure out a solution.



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 07:46 PM
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The second flight of this particular X-37 launched just after 1pm EST. The launch was webcast, until the spaceplane reached orbit, when it was cut off at the request of the Air Force. The Air Force has again refused to say what the mission is, or how long it will stay in orbit.




posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 07:57 PM
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Originally posted by stirling
This vehicle could also place mini spy satelites in orbit over hot spots with geosychrous orbit.


A geosynchrous orbit is at 42,000km, so a spy satellite at that distance would not see much, especially a mini spy satellite! And just how would the x-37b get a satellite to that orbit?



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 08:04 PM
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I was thinking about this today, more the payload. Is it too far out the realm of possibility that the payload, never actually leaves the cargo bay? Instead the cargo is attached, protract-able/retractable and otherwise mobile (for lack of a better term) to the will of where the Air Force deems its use warranted.

Be it, surveillance, a weapon or "research equipment".



posted on Dec, 11 2012 @ 08:10 PM
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reply to post by UberL33t
 


That's actually the most likely scenario. It is either tethered to, or mounted on an arm of some sort that lifts it out of the bay to where it can see outside the spaceplane, and they just move the X-37 around as necessary.

There is a solar panel that extends out of the payload bay that provides power, so the only limiting factor is the amount of fuel it can carry. The payload would have to be pretty small, whatever it is. The bay on this thing is only about the size of a pickup truck bed. It was actually designed so that the shuttle could carry two of them at the same time.



posted on Jan, 2 2013 @ 06:32 PM
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Heres my take on the x37b it could be a clever diversion, to the real secret tests. Get the worlds attention on a space shuttle in orbit and conduct your real tests elsewhere.

Make a big thing about how classified its mission is and everyone is on board the train..

Lets face it the shuttle made its first test flights in 1981 its not exactly ground breaking technology.

They got stuff a lot more higher tech then that, they must have.





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