X-37B launch and it's mystery mission

Discussion in 'Military Aviation' started by Rowdy, May 21, 2015.

  1. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    US Air Force Launches X-37B Space Plane on 4th Mystery Mission
    The U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane blasted into Earth orbit today, kicking off the robotic vehicle's clandestine fourth mission — as well as the first flight of a tiny solar-sailing spacecraft.

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    Credit: United Launch Alliance/Boeing

    The robotic X-37B space plane launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket today (May 20) at11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. You can see a video of the X-37B space plane's launch here.

    Most details about the space plane's orbital activities are classified, so it's unclear what exactly the X-37B will be doing as it zooms around Earth, or how long it will remain aloft. But Air Force officials have said that mission number four — known as Orbital Test Vehicle-4 (OTV-4) — will concentrate less on the X-37B itself and more on the gear the spacecraft is carrying to orbit. [X-37B Space Plane's 4th Mystery Mission in Photos]


    "We are excited about our fourth X-37B mission," Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement late last month. "With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we're able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads."

    Also on board the Atlas V were 10 miniscule "cubesats," including the LightSail solar sail that was developed by the nonprofit Planetary Society. LightSail aims to prove out key solar-sailing technology ahead of a more ambitious orbital trial next year.

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    Robotic minishuttle
    The Air Force owns two X-37B spacecraft, both of which were built by Boeing's Phantom Works division. Each space plane is just 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 m) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. To put those dimensions into perspective, both X-37Bs could fit inside the payload bay of NASA's now-retired space shuttle orbiter.

    The X-37B launches vertically and lands horizontally, on a runway, as the space shuttle did.

    The secrecy surrounding X-37B missions has led to speculation in some quarters that the craft is some sort of space weapon — that it's designed to inspect and/or cripple hostile nations' satellites, for example. But Air Force officials have long refuted that notion, saying the X-37B is simply testing out technologies for reusable vehicles and future spacecraft. [Top 10 Space Weapons]

    "OTV missions allow us to examine a payload system or technology in the environment in which it will perform its mission," Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesman, told Space.com via email. "The unique aspects of the OTV allow us to mature these new technologies and inspect them following the de-orbit sequence."

    Air Force officials have not said how long they expect OTV-4 to last, but the mission will be an extended one if the previous X-37B flights are any guide.

    OTV-1 blasted off in April 2010 and landed in December of that year, spending 225 days aloft. OTV-2, which used a different X-37B, launched in March 2011 and stayed in orbit for 469 days. OTV-3 lifted off in December 2012, sending the vehicle that flew OTV-1 to space for 675 days — a record for a reusable space vehicle.

    It's unclear if OTV-4 will employ the X-37B that flew OTV-1 and OTV-3, or the space plane that flew OTV-2.

    "The program selects the orbital test vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives," Hoyler said in response to this question.

    Not a total mystery
    The payloads flying to orbit aboard the X-37B on this mission are not a total mystery: The Air Force has revealed that an advanced Hall thruster propulsion system and a NASA materials investigation are among OTV-4's scientific gear.

    A Hall thruster is a type of ion engine; it generates thrust by accelerating ions (electrically charged atoms or molecules) out the back of a spacecraft. The engine getting an in-space test on OTV-4 is an advanced version of the Hall thruster that powered the first three Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellites, Air Force officials said.

    "A more efficient on-orbit thruster capability is huge," Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio, said in a statement last month. "Less fuel-burn lowers the cost to get up there, plus it enhances spacecraft operational flexibility, survivability and longevity."

    The NASA payload, called the Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space experiment, will study how exposure to the space environment affects nearly 100 different types of materials. The goal is to gather data that could aid in the design of future spacecraft, NASA officials have said.
    Solar sail demonstrator

    While the X-37B will likely stay in orbit for many months, the Planetary Society's LightSail spacecraft will come back down to Earth in just a few weeks.


    Four weeks from now, LightSail, which is the size of a loaf of bread, will unfurl its 344-square-foot (32 square m)
    solar sail. But the craft is not going high enough to actually use the sail for propulsion; its maiden flight will test out the cubesat's attitude-control and sail-deployment systems, helping pave the way for a bona fide orbital-sailing test next year.


    "It's smaller than a shoebox, everybody! And the sail that will come out of it is super shiny mylar," said Bill Nye (the Science Guy), who leads the Planetary Society, after today's successful launch. "We're very hopeful that the thing will deploy properly, the sunlight will hit it and we'll get a push."


    Atmospheric drag will start pulling LightSail back down to Earth as soon as the craft's sail is unfurled, and the cubesat will likely burn up two to 10 days thereafter, Planetary Society representatives have said.


    But the shiny sail should make the bantam spacecraft visible to the naked eye during its brief orbital trial. The Planetary Society will provide viewing maps and tips on its website (www.planetary.org) during the mission.

    http://www.space.com/29448-x37b-space-plane-launches-fourth-mission.html

    I bet US will also study flight characteristic for hypersonic "dive" vehicles ... for hypersonic missiles
    @Mad Indian @Rashna @maomao @Khagesh @Tshering22 @Sakal Gharelu Ustad @roma @abingdonboy @Screambowl @VivekShah @Blackwater

    Any other guesses for it's use.
     
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  3. Rashna

    Rashna Senior Member Senior Member

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    They already spent billions on Star Wars Program and failed...... :scared2::scared2:
     
  4. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    This program is different , that data is valuable and can be used to make gen 6 fighters. Regardless of outcome it's the data that counts.
     
  5. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    When will we be doing this kind of wonders ?

    I want that piggybacked type of plane carrying the next spaceship from Bangalore to SHAR.
     
  6. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    Well Sir ISRO has you covered.
    http://www.newindianexpress.com/sta...g-Final-Touches/2015/05/20/article2823997.ece
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    THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A scaled-down, unmanned version of India’s futuristic space shuttle is getting the final touches at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thumba.

    With the construction of the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) nearing completion, A S Kiran Kumar, chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is scheduled to lead a review of the dream project here on Friday.“The ‘space plane’ part of the RLV-TD is almost ready. We are now in the process of affixing special tiles on its outer surface which is needed for withstanding the intense heat during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere,” SSC director M Chandradathan said.

    “The entire construction of the RLV-TD is being handled by VSSC,” he said.

    SRO has tentatively slated the prototype’s test flight from the first launchpad of Sriharikota spaceport for July this year, but the date would be finalised depending on the completion of construction. The proposed RLV is designed in two parts; a manned space plane rigged atop a single stage, booster rocket using solid fuel. The rocket is expendable while the RLV would fly back to earth and land like a normal aeroplane after the mission.

    The prototype- ‘the RLV-TD’ weighs just 1.5 tonnes and would fly up to a height of 70 kms.

    For the test mission, the unmanned space plane part would glide into the Bay of Bengal a la the recent crew module successfully tested aboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk-III (GSLV Mk-III) experimental flight last year.India’s answer to the space shuttle, the RLV is one of the big steps forward in ISRO’s launch vehicle programme along with the GSLV Mk-III and the Unified Launch Vehicle project.

    ISRO has successfully tested re-entry technology twice- the first time in 2009 with the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment-1 (SRE-1) in January 2007 and the second with the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) aboard the GSLV Mk-III in December 2014.

    ITS NOT AS ADVANCED AS THE US ONE.... BUT WE ARE NOT OUT OF THE RACE.
     
  7. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    I read that one.

    I had gone to SHAR last year. The new launching pad is great.

    It is like the one NASA guys have. That is what the dude who works for ISRO told me.

    But those ISRO guys are so cool.
     
  8. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    They are also going to make a 5 km runway for it's landing. ....... but not for the first experiment......first experiment is the sea splash one.
     
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  9. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    BTW what kind of thing Atlas rocket uses for the propulsion?

    First it looked like some kind of nitro-looking thing. Then it has gone all flame thrower thing.
     
  10. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    The first is the russian RD 180 booster based on kerosene
    The second one is the american liquid H2 based RL10
     
  11. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    I thought Russia and America are some kind of enemies.

    It is great to be Gas making country. They can do kind of experiments on fuels.
     
  12. Rowdy

    Rowdy Co ja kurwa czytam! Senior Member

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    Yup .. but russian engines are cheaper .. actually these are boosters that just burn non stop and there is very little "control" so to speak, so its cheaper to get from russia at $10k GDP/PPP.....(approx)
    Just like europian nations give india satellites to launch
     
  13. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    But the kerosine and LOX thing looks awesome when it is burned.
     
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