The second X-37B "secret space warplane" operated by the US military has successfully reached orbit at the beginning of a classified mission, whose intent and duration remain unknown. The second X-37B is enclosed in its fairing prior to launch. Credit: Boeing At the spaceplane-in-a-tin factory The X-37B is a small unmanned …
It could be said to be a sit strange that the military have succesfully launched TWO of these, however NASA have TWICE failed to launch a sat to measure and put real numbers to some critical parameters for the climate (and it's change) on Earth.
Not Strange at all...
You do realize that the space agency today (NASA) is no the same agency of the 60's era, right?
The heavy reliance out outsourcing and contractors open the way for errors that can prove to be fatal.
And also the work force itself has changed. Not just for NASA. IMHO there is less pride in doing the job right, versus just getting it done. Again, small mistakes are fatal for these projects.
Compare this to the Military which checks, rechecks and follows the systems... and where a 'failure' could cost one's career.
This mission will have cost an order of magnitude more than NASA's climate probes. But we'll never know exactly how much. The public DoD space budget is around $20 billion p.a. (bigger than NASA's), on top of which there is an unknown amount of secret sauce.
is it just me, or does anyone else get a sudden craving for a Kinda Surprise after looking at the photo?
Oh - just me then. Oh well.
Is that a localized brand for Kinder or just a misspelling?
"Space Shuttle........could not stay up unassisted nearly as long"
Well, it is rather elderly
You wouldnt believe them anyway...
"...until we hear from an authoritative source that these are not happening."
Yeah but as if you'd believe them if they said that anyway... ;)
From the people that gave you
a cargo bay said to be about the same size as that of a pickup truck
is that the size of the cargo bay in a pickup truck or would the cargo bay fit a pickup truck?
Why not just say 'the size of a juvenile elephant'?
Standard el Reg units
So what would it be in Olympic Swimming Pools, milli-Wales or Pachaderms per second?
Where is the Vulture Standards desk when you need them?
More importantly though, how old is the juvenile elephant? A new-born? Or a grumpy teenager? And is it an Asiatic or African Elephant, or the (IIRC) now extinct middle-eastern-area breed/species? Is it the total volume, or the space needed to contain one of these fell beasties? These are questions that need answers!
Well according to this
The experimental/cargo bay is 7 feet long and 4 feet in diameter. Probably a bit small for the typical Merkin pickup (although with much better steering).
However that doesn't help without knowing what power and cooling services the X37b supplies. The ruinously expensive triple junction solar cells could give c550W/m^2 but how much of that would be funneled into the payload is anyone's guess.
Still this should be more than big enough for the experimental spaceborne piscine mounted laser cannon test.
Obviously the next generation will be big enough to accommodate the shark tank as well.
'Like the shuttle it has delta-shaped wings which would seem to offer the same "cross-range" capability that the US military insisted upon for the bigger spaceplane: a capability intended for top-secret intelligence missions which would be extremely difficult for other nations to monitor – though in the event the Shuttle never actually flew such missions.'
The Soviet Union, which would have been the target of such missions, would have had no trouble monitoring polar launches of the Shuttle. They had tracking stations across the globe and even on ships designed for nothing else.
The military launches of the Shuttle were killed by the Shuttle's continued failure to achieve the number of launches that had been expected, its unreliability in meeting launch windows and finally by the explosion of Challenger caused by SRBs which were considerably stronger than those needed to launch out of Vandenberg.
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"Like the shuttle it has delta-shaped wings which would seem to offer the same "cross-range" capability that the US military insisted upon for the bigger spaceplane: a capability intended for top-secret intelligence missions which would be extremely difficult for other nations to monitor – though in the event the Shuttle never actually flew such missions."
And, of course, we know that they never actually flew such top-secret intelligence missions, because there's no mention of them in WikiLeaks, right?
Paris, because how else would the US spy on cheese-eating surrender monkeys?
The shuttle's cross range capability wasn't just useful for military missions which were never flown, but also to be able to read a far greater range of landing sites in the case of either a take off abort or an abort once around. It also made it a lot easier to use the alternate sites in the case of adverse weather at planned landing sites, without the need to burn a lot of fuel changing orbit.
Luckily a take off abort was never performed either, but if there had been only limited cross range capability, many missions would not have been cleared to fly, as an abort would have lead to an enviable ditching in water or a crash landing. The shuttles cross range capability allowed at least a good attempt being made to put down on a dozen different long runways around the world located within gliding range of the downrange track.