Jump to content



Photo

Air Force mystery plane set for next mission

x-37b atlas 5 rocket kennedy space center

  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Hum

Hum

    totally wAcKed

  • 63,471 posts
  • Joined: 05-October 03
  • Location: Odder Space
  • OS: Windows XP, 7

Posted 27 September 2012 - 00:36

The U.S. military's mysterious X-37B space plane is headed back into the great beyond to do… whatever it does up there.

The X-37B is slated for its third launch in October, the Air Force said, but like its two orbital predecessors, the mission of the unmanned spacecraft remains shrouded in secrecy. The exact timing of the October spaceflight, dubbed Orbital Test Vechicle-3 or OTV-3, is also tentative.

"We are on track for the launch of the X-37B to occur next month, but the exact date of the launch is dependent on a number of factors including range conditions and weather," Air Force spokesperson Lt. Col . John Dorrian told ABC News. The 29-foot-long vehicle is set to launch aboard an Atlas 5 rocket from the Florida station of Cape Canaveral.

The pioneer voyage of the X-37B, called OTV-1, began in April of 2010 and lasted 225 days, eventually landing in December of the same year at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The second orbit, OTV-2, touched down on the same base this past June following a record-breaking 469 day travel.

"For this third launch, while the vehicle is the same… we are considering landing it at NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida instead of the previous base," said Dorrian. "We are looking to save money and make use of previous investments and infrastructure already available."

The mission for this small shuttle-like machine, developed by the U.S. Air Force and based on NASA's original X-37 design, remains largely classified. The secrecy surrounding the program, which is overseen by the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office, has attracted international attention from nations like China who have speculated a more aggressive intent.

"Industry analysts said the spacecraft could be a precursor to an orbiting weapon, capable of dropping bombs or disabling enemy satellites as it circles the globe," China's state-run Xinhua news agency wrote in June after OTV-2 concluded its mission.

Since the 2010 maiden flight, U.S. officials have continuously assured the world that the mission of the OTV series is non-nefarious "testing." For instance, the coming October mission will focus on testing the vehicle's capabilities as well the cost-effectiveness of the aircraft, Air Force spokesperson Maj. Tracy Bunko told SPACE.com, which first reported on the new mission

"One of the most promising aspects of the X-37B is it enables us to examine a payload system or technology in the environment in which it will perform its mission and inspect them when we bring them back to Earth," Bunko said. "Returning an experiment via the X-37B OTV enables detailed inspection and significantly better learning than can be achieved by remote telemetry alone."

source


#2 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 18,969 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 27 September 2012 - 04:49

And there is talk of a larger version, X-37C or another named follow-on, which could be optionally manned.

Thing is the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser largely meets its specs, cam be modded, and is due to begin air-drop landing tests around November and fly atop an Atlas V around 2015-2016. One could easily see the USAF getting it from SNC & NASA just sa they did X-37B. NASA just gave SNC $250M to continue work on it.

The real deal test Dream Chaser

Posted Image

Artwork of ISS mission

Posted Image

#3 HawkMan

HawkMan

    Neowinian Senior

  • 22,195 posts
  • Joined: 31-August 04
  • Location: Norway
  • Phone: Noka Lumia 1020

Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:40

Compared to the x37 the dreamchaser looks like a thunderbirds ship or something.

#4 moloko

moloko

    Neowinian Senior

  • 2,721 posts
  • Joined: 28-December 02

Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:44

Yeah this has a funny look to it.

#5 Blaze_Zewi

Blaze_Zewi

    Neowinian

  • 470 posts
  • Joined: 07-October 10

Posted 27 September 2012 - 06:53

Is that a cockpit I see...?

#6 Tuishimi

Tuishimi

    Michinator

  • 843 posts
  • Joined: 19-November 10
  • OS: Windows 8

Posted 27 September 2012 - 07:07

Compared to the x37 the dreamchaser looks like a thunderbirds ship or something.


Dreamchaser is GO!

#7 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 18,969 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 27 September 2012 - 08:11

Yeah this has a funny look to it.


Instead of being a space "plane" (fuselage with separate wings & tail) like the Shuttle or other aircraft, the Dream Chaser is a lifting body - the fuselages curvature provides the lift (so no traditional wings) and what looks like wings serve more as an eleven tail like on modern fighters. In short, it flies the same way a frisbee does.

DC is almost all carbon composite and is powered by 2 hybrid rockets as its main thrusters & escape system. Hybrids are a blend of solid and liquid - the fuel is a rubber-like solid casing and the liquid oxidizer is nitrous oxide (laughing gas.) Nitrous also doesn't need to be strored at the deep cryogenic temps of liquid oxygen, and it doesn't boil away over time like LOX. Very different, but proven.

Yes, it has a cockpit and can carry a crew of up to 7, or fly robotically, or both as a robotic crew escape vehicle. It can also land on any conventional airport runway within 1,500 km of its orbital track, a capability known as 'cross range'. It also re-enters at just 1.5G - less than the forces on many kiddie roller coasters, which also makes it good for orbital med-evac. There are also mods being looked at for an airlock and cargo bay with space doors.

#8 moloko

moloko

    Neowinian Senior

  • 2,721 posts
  • Joined: 28-December 02

Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:49

Instead of being a space "plane" (fuselage with separate wings & tail) like the Shuttle or other aircraft, the Dream Chaser is a lifting body - the fuselages curvature provides the lift (so no traditional wings) and what looks like wings serve more as an eleven tail like on modern fighters. In short, it flies the same way a frisbee does.

DC is almost all carbon composite and is powered by 2 hybrid rockets as its main thrusters & escape system. Hybrids are a blend of solid and liquid - the fuel is a rubber-like solid casing and the liquid oxidizer is nitrous oxide (laughing gas.) Nitrous also doesn't need to be strored at the deep cryogenic temps of liquid oxygen, and it doesn't boil away over time like LOX. Very different, but proven.

Yes, it has a cockpit and can carry a crew of up to 7, or fly robotically, or both as a robotic crew escape vehicle. It can also land on any conventional airport runway within 1,500 km of its orbital track, a capability known as 'cross range'. It also re-enters at just 1.5G - less than the forces on many kiddie roller coasters, which also makes it good for orbital med-evac. There are also mods being looked at for an airlock and cargo bay with space doors.


yeah its funny looking but I like it if it is cheaper than just using a regular module that comes to the earth via parachute.

#9 OP Hum

Hum

    totally wAcKed

  • 63,471 posts
  • Joined: 05-October 03
  • Location: Odder Space
  • OS: Windows XP, 7

Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:53

… whatever it does up there.


Making adjustments the the Death-ray satellites, no doubt. :shifty:

#10 DocM

DocM

    Neowinian Senior

  • 18,969 posts
  • Joined: 31-July 10
  • Location: Michigan

Posted 27 September 2012 - 13:37

yeah its funny looking but I like it if it is cheaper than just using a regular module that comes to the earth via parachute.


Spaceplanes / lifting bodies are OK for local commutes, but for long deep space missions a space cruiser like Nautilus-X is the ticket and they would use those "modules" as high speed taxis up & down to Gateways.

Modules (capsules) are more efficient in terms of of cost, simplicity, weight, use of volume and are capable of re-entry from beyond Earth orbit locations, which means higher velocities. Low Earth otbit like Shuttle, X-37B, And they are evolving away from parachutes, starting with SpaceX's propulsive landing system.

Remember that triangles and cones are among the strongest of structures. DC etc only need to re-enter at 17,000 mph, but from the Moon or the Gateway that ups to 25,000+ mph. Orion & Dragon are good for this, and Dragon's PICA-X heat shield is even better than NASA's own version of PICA which is rated for almost 30,000 mph and was used on the Stardust mission - their fastest re-entry to date. These present massively higher heat and structural loads those flying cones handle much better.

#11 Growled

Growled

    Neowinian Senior

  • 41,508 posts
  • Joined: 17-December 08
  • Location: USA

Posted 28 September 2012 - 00:24

… whatever it does up there.


Making adjustments the the Death-ray satellites, no doubt. :shifty:


Or maybe something even more sinister. We will never know.