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The X-37B is preparing to return to flight

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posted on May, 9 2020 @ 09:23 PM
The X-37B is marginal for whether or not it should be in the aviation forum. However, I have been using the rule stating if something has wings for aerodynamic list, it counts as aviation and the X-37B definitely has that.

The X-37B is the seemingly enigmatic space plane operating by the US Space Force and built by Boeing. It is officially called the Orbital Test Vehicle[1] (OTVs) of which there are two separate OTVs. The OTVs are like mini space shuttles with a modular payload bay, but are launched atop of Atlas V rockets. The X-37B is unmanned and has conducted missions up to 780 days long so far. The X-37B has been operational for 10 years now, with its first mission beginning in April 2010. The last mission completed in October 2019.

The USAF states the X-37B is acting like a orbital laboratory and conducting experiments in orbit. However, a former SecAF stated the X-37B can dip down deep enough into the atmosphere to change its orbit by using its wings and thus foil when adversaries expect the spacecraft to come over their territory[2]. That VERY strongly suggests the X-37B is not merely a lab, but also used as an intel asset, acting as something of a cross between a spysat and the SR-71.

An X-37B is preparing for the next launch this next week on May 16, 2020[3,4,5]. The USSF is being rather open, this time, about its payload manifest, at least in part. This is very different than in the past. The spacecraft will be carrying both NASA and DOD experiments[7,8]. These experiments include the FalconSat-8[9]. This is a smallsat to be deployed by the X-37B. Another is an experiment for the US Navy to be used to convert solar power into microwaves and beam it to Earth[10].

Other nations and entities are seeking the same capability. Europe is attempting to build Space Rider[11,12] and the maiden flight is expected to be in 2022. China is attempting to build either own equivalent[13] as well, whether is it is the Shenlong[14] or not remains to be seen.

It makes you wonder why they are being so open this time. Is there something in the payload they are trying to distract[15] from? Or is this a bit of damage control from dealing with the revelations of the ex SecAF? Or is this the new, bright and shiny USSF culture they are trying to start?

What do you think?


posted on May, 9 2020 @ 10:26 PM
a reply to: anzha

If you've looked hard enough at previous missions there was always mention of at least some of what they were doing while in orbit.

posted on May, 9 2020 @ 11:12 PM
How long's that contract for the X-37B?

posted on May, 9 2020 @ 11:19 PM
a reply to: Masisoar

I would assume it's annual. I'd be worried if I were Boeing once the DreamChaser finally flies. SierraNevada has an unmanned version and it carries far, far more.

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 02:50 AM
a reply to: anzha

Do these projects have their roots tracing back to the X-20?

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 08:30 AM
a reply to: Masisoar

No, not really. That effort lived and died a long time ago, leaving little to no descendants.

The SierraNevada DreamChaser does have roots back to HL-10 and is mild modification of the HL-20.

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 10:11 AM
a reply to: anzha

Yes, the Dream Chaser traces its roots to the HL-20. In the 1990s, designers at NASA Langley Research Center essentially took the outer mold line configuration from the Soviet BOR-4 mini space plane that was tested in the 1980s and scaled it up.

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 11:10 AM
I like to see how dirty it can look because I feel that even though it's "secret" I'm getting my taxpayer money's worth out of it. Also I find it interesting that space is so filthy.

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 07:07 PM
What I was hoping for is that they are going to eventually announce that they have been testing next generation propulsion units and they finally have one ready for prime time. Wouldn't it be nice to take a 10 or 20 hour flight to the moon with about the same level of difficulty as flying to Australia from the US now? No massive chemical rockets to worry about. Maybe some small ones to help get off the Earth but then it's all solid state from there on?

It would be interesting to have them declassify the Breakthrough Propulsion Project. And explain why that one proposal got a million bucks by special congressional action while everyone else got only $20 to $30 thousand bucks.
edit on 10-5-2020 by ntech because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 07:49 PM
a reply to: ntech

They tested a new Hall thruster already.

posted on May, 10 2020 @ 10:45 PM
a reply to: Zaphod58

i still think they are using it to test 3d/additive manufacturing(laser sintered metal powder)

pretty sure i read them testing some sort of S.A radar

and maybe helping sats already in orbit with fuel or whatever

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 12:05 AM
I wonder if it has a deployable shroud to help keep it hidden.

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 03:43 AM
What is interesting to this mission is the service module on the X-37B rear, we don't see it on the pictures is it classified ?

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 07:47 AM
a reply to: Masisoar

I THINK misty spy sats tried something like that

but people follow it in orbit and it has never been shown to have something to hide it in space

and i dont think it would be able to use the inflatable heatsheilds because where would you but it that wouldn't require parts to fall off pertinently

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 07:57 AM
Heh. When I read the thread's title, I had the craft in question confused with the X-15.

Now that would be something to see fly again!

Outing how old I am, I 'spose.


posted on May, 11 2020 @ 08:52 AM
a reply to: Shadowhawk
If I'm not mistaken that was the Soviet test article that a RAAF P-3 just "happened" to find and photograph in the middle of the Indian Ocean in about 84-85 as it was being winched aboard a Soviet "fishing boat" or some such. I remember seeing it in a book where it was labeled as a "rather improbable coincidence" that the RAAF crew just so happened upon.

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 11:52 AM
a reply to: anzha

The AM (additive manufacturing) and NASA/MIT "voxel" ("volume pixels" these are self-similar small structures that when put together like a jigsaw puzzle make volume/space structures that can be used in larger structures) tech would be a good bet.

They are being open this time because they can't keep it locked away and hidden any more!

One only needs to look up and one day see a football field sized panel in space where there was none to wonder what is going on. Single programmed robots, solar powered, building little triangle/pyramid shapes, from powdered raw material, running 24x7x365... well you can't really keep that hidden!

So why not tell everyone about a "test flight" or two? People may wonder, but a few months later, "oh look, another shuttle launch..." and everything is boring again.

The real question is, "What are we building with the AM/voxel tech"??

either way! Automated robot ship up in space for another couple of years...

edit on 11-5-2020 by TEOTWAWKIAIFF because: pronouns are good...

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 12:46 PM
a reply to: Masisoar

In a roundabout sort of way, yes. The Dream Chaser, as others said, is based on the HL-20 which was itself a copy of the Soviet BOR-4 hypersonic test article, which in turn had a shape that was based on the MiG-105 lifting body, which was built to test an orbiter design intended for the air-launched SPIRAL spaceplane, which was, in fact, designed as a Soviet response to the USAF X-20 program.

So the X-20 is indirectly responsible for giving us the Dream Chaser, and in particular it's distinctive shape.

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 01:25 PM
a reply to: Barnalby

If I may remind:

posted on May, 11 2020 @ 09:29 PM
a reply to: anzha

I've always had a soft spot for the HL-10, ugly duckling among the ugly ducklings of the NASA Dryden lifting body fleet, ever since I 1st saw photos of it as a kid. Maybe someday we'll get to see what was happening behind closed doors between 1965 and 1985. It always struck me as a bit funny that all of these 100% mature aerodynamic and thermal management technologies appeared out of nowhere, 100% mature, for the Space Shuttle program.

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