185 posts • joined Friday 16th September 2011 02:49 GMT
Rest easy, Ray. Your films brought fantasy to life and enriched the lives of millions.
You'll be sadly missed.
First, well done Virgin Galactic for this step. I'm not a fan but still, kudos.
Second, taking kids on a flight? The first flight? Er, no, don't do that. If the other arguements put forward here don't move you on that then think of it like this.
100,000 dollars per kid? That's just wasteful. Buy them a happy meal, take 'em to a cinema and let 'em ride a pony home afterwards. It's safer, cheaper and they'll appreciate it more, and have a memory they'll treasure until the next X-Box game comes out or something.
Re: Space will soon no longer be the exclusive domain of governments!
The future of space will certainly be private but you're partially right about it being national rather than international. Due to ITAR, American companies will have their own stuff in orbit while the rest of the world - or those parts of it that aren't stuck on a rigid government-first model - pools its resources and works together to put some big stuff together in orbit.
Of course, technology-wise, the US currently has a big lead, I haven't heard of any non-US parties with Bigelow-type expandable modules for example so it might take a few years (maybe 20) before the rest of the world overtakes the US...
Won't someone PLEASE think of the... future.
First of all, congratulations to Orbital Science Corp for getting their bird away, a successful launch. Kudos.
However, [beginrant] aren't they using a business model that is out-of-date? They, like ULA, build expensive rockets (150 million for Antares, 180 million for a mid-capacity Atlas V - these figures are speculation obtained by looking at whatever price figures pop up in people's quotes and finding the middle range but I DO think they're reasonably accurate), that have small expensive things on top and only fly about once every three-to-five months.
Fine as long as there isn't anyone else significantly undercutting you and will (probably, assuming nothing goes wrong) be offering more launches per year than Orbital & ULA combined within the next few years. Oh wait, that's SpaceX, 55 million for a Falcon 9 with a reusable 1st stage less than five years away. It's not unreasonable to think that in 2018 - five years from now - SpaceX will be testing a reusable 2nd stage while REL will be about to start testing the two 'boilerplate' Skylon prototypes.
Which leaves Orbital & ULA... where? Stuck with expensive rockets that don't fly very often while, short-term, SpaceX sucks up all the business for 5 to 6-tonne payloads and the market starts to prepare for even-cheaper, 15-tonne payloads for 10 million a pop.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be overly negative on Orbital/ULA. Building rockets and getting them to work is hard, no doubt about that and they, especially Orbital, deserve credit for their acheivements but what of the future? The game is about to radically change, the requirements to succeed will be significantly different and yet, listening to Orbital & ULA, you'd think that they could carry on as they are, charging large sums of money for an infrequent service that, very soon now, that will be offered for much lower sums and will be much more available.
Where, oh where, are there any signs that Orbital & ULA have their eyes anywhere but on this financial quarters figures?[endrant]
And the cost...?
Bad luck, Antares. Let's hope things go better in a couple of days.
Would anyone care to speculate on the cost of an Antares rocket? SpaceX charged NASA a hundred-something million dollars to send Dragon to the ISS & they're famous (and pretty much unique, in fact) for advertising their launch costs (54 million dollars on wiki as I type this) for satellite launches but there doesn't seem to be anything out there for Antares costs.
Re: Let's look on the brighter side... and Deliver CyberIntelAIgent ARGonauts*
Was that English? Hang on, let me find autotranslate somewhere...
Let's look on the bright side...
The people living nearby will never have to lubricate their lawnmowers again... or worry about moles ruining their lawns... or be woken up early in the morning by those pesky songbirds!
And in other good news, the chances of a hunting licence being issued so that the local folks can bag themselves a few oil execs just went up...
Re: Well that couldn't have gone wrong anyway...
In Desert Storm, General Sir Peter De Billieure (the spelling is probably wrong) noted in his memoirs that the Americans had CNN playing in their HQ and he was amazed at how the American staff changed their discussions to accommodate what was being spouted on air. At his own HQ, he had the TVs showing the news channels turned off for the duration.
Do the South Koreans & the US Military base their responses around twitter? Almost certainly not but is their thinking influenced by it? It's certainly possible...
It's worth pointing out the cost figures for Skylon are expected to be around 10 million dollars per launch with one Skylon having a lifespan of at least 200 flights.
15 tonnes lifted to LEO for only 10 mil? And the 1st prototype is expected to fly in 2018? Point out anything the Americans have coming down the pipeline within the next 20 years that'll match that.
In financial terms, spending a thousand dollars to cure a ten-dollar problem is not a good thing. When it comes to North Korea, starting a war with them when they're spouting empty threats is likewise not a good thing.
Why are their threats empty? Because...
A: They don't have the kind of miltary that could conquer South Korea in the face of the very modern South Korean army and the assisting US forces (army, navy & air force).
B: They've been threatening the outside world on & off for years and they never have.
C: If they did actually start fighting, they'd lose. Period. They have old & out-of-date stuff and not much in the way of fuel and supplies. They have a lot of special forces which could briefly take key points like bridges, road/rail junctions, certain buildings etc, but they couldn't hold the ground.
D: Chances are, they're trying to stir up a reaction so that young Kim-Jong-Un gets the bigwigs to rally around him, thus securing his position and also getting some more food aid & fuel six months from now. Throwing their toys out of the pram to get food & fuel is something they've done many times in the past.
Well that couldn't have gone wrong anyway...
Well just because some twit sent a twitter (I couldn't resist the pun), what could have gone wrong in the current charged environment?
Oh, nothing much, just a few (hundred) cruise missiles fired back, not much to write home about.
Still, they could always have deleted the launch of those missiles...
Re: Doesn't pass the smell test, NASA is dead.
Hmm, not dead exactly, but lurching around from this project to that project. In all fairness, it's worth pointing out that NASA isn't in charge of NASA. The people who allocate the money insist on saying things like, "Spend it on this." instead of, "Here's the money, make sure you account for it. Now go do what you do best & if you mess up, we'll have your spherical objects for breakfast."
Anyone remember the Constellation program? A heavy lifter, a lunar lander (Altair) and the other bits & bobs. Cancelled and the money spent and, more importantly, the time wasted created the current gap between the retirement of the Shuttle and the restoration of America's ability to put its own astronauts into orbit. NASA gets the blame for that but it was a mandated program & then the funding was yanked out. And next came SLS...
And the private sector will have a cheap alternative that lifts 75% of the payload for less than 10% of the cost, flying for the first time in 2014, 3 1/2 years ahead of SLS. Now convince me that SLS isn't going to be cancelled just like Constellation.
This is what a limited budget looks like...
So NASA isn't going back to the Moon anytime soon? Ok. It's not going because there's not enough money in the budget to go there? Ok. But there's enough in the budget to build:
A: A huge (and hugely expensive) rocket (SLS).
B: A habitat module - no way are 3 to 5 astronauts going to do 300-days-plus in just an Orion capsule.
C: A service module - I don't think that the European ATV, slated as a possible service module for trips to L2, is up to 300-days-plus in deep space with very long periods between burns.
But there doesn't seem to be anything in the public domain about a habitat module OR a new deep-space service module... so we're at least 10 years away from such a mission which puts the potential NASA asteroid-visiting mission at... 2024 at the earliest?
I have this picture in my head of a NASA crew getting to an asteroid in their tiny, barely-big-enough-to-get-there-and-back ship and finding a (probably American) crew from the Private Sector there already...
What should NASA be doing?
A: Doing research that the Private sector ISN'T doing. Spaceplanes or a Shuttle-replacement come to mind. Alternative propulsion theories, alternative fuels (metallic hydrogen is a LONG way off but it's worth checking out) and so on.
B: Sending probes/orbiters/landers to other planets and doing data analysis.
C: Doing Earth observation and data analysis.
It SHOULDN'T be competing with ULA/SpaceX et al to build big expensive rockets, or at least should be paying for it out of its own budget. NASA has a lot of old, aging infrastructure and some of it has little to do with points A to C above.
Re: Funding in the states
NASA's problem is that it's not in control of NASA. The House & Senate subcommittees that allocate funds also issue requirements as to what NASA spends its money on. SLS is the biggest example of these. 16 billion dollars between 2012 & the end of 2017 for Orion & the first SLS flight in December 2017.
A complete waste of money, IMHO. For a fraction of that, they could buy Falcon Heavies and save a fortune, allowing them to do Mars & Jupiter & Jupiters moons & the outer planets/moons as well.
Another aspect of the problem is that the politicians are prone to change their priorities so at the start of any program, there's no guarantee the funding won't be cut prior to the end of the program.
Re: Good summary
Yes & No. The UK would have benefitted from remaining a space power but neither we nor our other launching spot - Woomera in Australia - is really in a good place to launch rockets. We're much too far north (or south, in the case of Australia).
That said, we can take heart that Skylon (check it out on wikipedia) will be entering service fairly soon as these things go and while most of them will probably be operating from South America where they can easily get to equatorial orbits, it's not too unreasonable to think that one or two of them my end up operating from the UK, heading for polar, sun-synchronous or some other high-inclination orbit.
Re: With a little help from my friends (FTFY)
Yep, any criminal who a: is the only one (or one of very few) who can do something that the government very much wants to be done and b: promises not to be naughty again (unless the new government is keen on it) is going to be forgiven and all .
And we're what? Surprised by this?
Incidentally, wikipedia (to keep the sources simple) has Hitler mentioning to Albert Speer that Von Braun was 'exempt from persecution as long as he is indispensable for you'.
More seriously, the article does a good job of laying out the current significant players in the access-to-orbit club but it would be more useful if the article had included costs for each rocket. SpaceX is quite open about their costs and from looking around the internet, once can get a figure of, on average, 180 million for an Atlas V, but what about the launch costs for the Japanese, the Russians, the Indians and of course the Chinese?
For that matter, what is the expected number of launches from each type/country per year? Yes, wikipedia is useful there but it'd still be nice to get it all in one place...
Re: At the risk of being too pedantic,,
Ah, this is probably where they've come up with a nifty idea to raise additional capital.
Farmers all across the nation will pay a small amount each to have their fields fertilized. So the GPS turns on the green light, the pilot sticks his posterior out the hatch and... bombs away!
Can't wait for the movie...
Shouldn't the rest of the world help save the world?
It certainly seems as if, assuming a planet-killer were discovered on the way in, the rest of the world would immediately turn to the USA and start moaning about NASA letting the side down. You hear about NASA getting involved in asteroid-tracking but you don't hear so much about the rest of the world getting in on the act.
Perhaps its time for each country to donate some of their observatories time to asteroid spotting, as part of a worldwide (UN organised?) program.
Optimism yes, but restrained, restrained...
It certainly sounds like they're on to something here. Kudos to them.
However... salt? An extremely corrosive substance (not the most corrosive by any means but still...) mixed with radioactive materials? Reassurances, please.
And, of course, even if all goes well, I'd say that it'll be 10 to 15 years before the first small-scale reactor is built to evaluate the safety/commercial issues.
That's just the way it is, folks.
Re: Interesting? Well, yeah but 'cheap' is a better word for what SpaceX is doing...
How elastic was the exploration market just prior to Columbus? Spain wasn't desperately short of food or space and yet Columbus got his funding (but not the right to a percentage of all the returns from the New World, something that was denied to him in the small print - a lesson for all of us there...) to go off and explore.
There wasn't much of a return for Spain in the very early days but the New World became a galvanizing idea for the Spanish population (in fact, over the next two centuries Spain DEpopulated, its population actually shrank as people flooded out to the Americas) and they, followed by other Europeans, rushed out to develop and make a new life for themselves in the New World.
Make getting off the planet cheap and people will, again, be stirred up. People will, over time, head out to develop the New Frontier and, in time, make a new economy, of ideas, of trade etc.
Interesting? Well, yeah but 'cheap' is a better word for what SpaceX is doing...
Interesting? Yes but much more significantly, SpaceX is doing more to get humanity off this planet than anyone else.
They're already cheaper than anyone else *cough*ULA*cough* in the business and is anyone else trying to make their rockets cheaper? Not that anyone can see.
SpaceX is also trying to make their rockets reusable (at the cost of reduced payload but that's not necessarily a bad thing for the Falcon 9 v1.1 & certainly not for the upcoming Falcon Heavy) which will reduce launch costs even more, and allow even more launches per year.
Make it cheap enough, and everyone'll do it...
Re: Way to go, SpaceX!
Oooh, sneaky - Me likey!
Seriously though, ULA is more likely to lobby Congress harder to get the Air Force/NRO/DOD launch contracts booked through ULA that they are to find ways to make their launchers cheaper. While SpaceX does have a foot in the door, ULA is in the dominant position over there. I'd say that that ULA's strategy was to keep milking their cash-cow for as long as possible before being relegated to the dustbin of history.
At which point the various execs transfer back to Boeing/Lockheed etc and start overseeing next-gen air-to-air/surface-to-air missiles or other new aerospace projects which, like the F-35, will be highly likely to come in waaaay over budget. But those execs will still get their huge salaries and bonuses so no worries there.
The actual workers will get their pink slips because management was't interested in building stuff that was competitive on the open market but hey, did anyone think it would turn out any other way?
Way to go, SpaceX!
Well, kudos to SpaceX. They put together a very smooth operation there.
Nice article too (weird about the URL but never mind...) but does anyone have any info on the number of 'hops' expected in 2013? And the expected milestone for each hop?
If I were one of the vice-presidents over at ULA, I'd be cashing in my stock options over the next few years...
How about putting NASA in charge of NASA?
One major problem that NASA faces is the fact that it has way too many chiefs and not enough indians. NASA's budget comes, every time, with strings attached. Politicians mandate this and that without necessarily funding this and that and so NASA has to pull funding from useful stuff so it can do as instructed.
One radical notion would be for NASA to get its 18 billion dollars a year and get just one instruction set - Explore the solar system, develop technology that will get the human race to a point where it's at least a two-planet species, observe and study the universe and research new technologies and materials with the first three goals in mind.
Given the chance, NASA would kill the SLS program and set up a competion to see which private sector company could build a reliable heavy-lifter that was reasonably cheap - say, less than 200 million dollars for around 70 tonnes to LEO.
Once free of political dithering, NASA could get more Mars probes/rovers/orbiters going and more for Jupiter & Saturn's moons. JWST could be launched and planning for a 2nd JWST could begin with a lot more certainty over cost.
Won't happen of course, but it's nice to dream...
It's going to be a busy year for SpaceX...
So 2013 for SpaceX will involve...
Finish the investigation into the last ISS delivery.
Start (and finish) the investigation into THIS delivery to ISS.
Get the Falcon Heavy launched on its test flight.
Start (and finish?) the investigation into the Falcon Heavy test flight, even if all goes well.
Get the Falcon 9 v1.1 away for its first flight.
Start (and finish?) the investigation into the first flight of the Falcon9 v1.1.
Get Grasshopper to go supersonic and successfully return it to its launch site.
And yes, investigate the ongoing Grasshopper program...
Release information about the upcoming 'Raptor' upper stage/space vehicle (not sure which) with its methane-fuelled engine.
And possibly, assuming this isn't just the Raptor program again, release information about the upcoming MCT (Mars Colonial Transport?) project.
And (and I might be entirely wrong here) the Merlin 2 engine research program is going forward.
And (finally!) I'm sure that someone at SpaceX is still doing some work on the Falcon X/Falcon X Heavy rockets of the 2020's.
If SpaceX can pull all of this off in 2013 then they'll be the go-to company for getting into space. I'm a SpaceX fan myself but it's going to be a hell of a year...
Re: @Incredibly cowardly AC
Wherever you spend your money, you're going to annoy someone who feels it should have gone here instead of there, regardless of where you put the money. So people who put money somewhere should ignore the people who complain.
That said, it's worth looking at one aspect - the difference between research and engineering.
Spend one billion dollars on cancer research and it's quite possible that when you come to the end of the money, you still won't have a cure for cancer. You'll have helped, no doubt, but money-in does not equal answer-out.
Now spend one billion dollars on putting stuff into space, sending it to Mars etc and, wow, you end up with a billion dollars worth of stuff in space or on the way to Mars etc.
In short, let the man put his money where he wants and people who disagree can put their money where they want and neither side should listen to people complaining about spending their money on this instead of that.
Quality? Probably Yes. Is that what Americans want? Probably No.
BBC America is a widely-respected thing. Does it match the viewership figures of the biggies in American media? Not even close.
'Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid' is the motto of most American News Networks and they get viewers. The product is trash but they've carefully, over years, trained the audience to like it.
American news media, it used to be something once...
But still, well done Al-Jazeera, quite a fair and balanced Network, for actually trying to bring some quality to America.
Spectrum is NOT green.
You were an inspiration
Re: I wonder if they will go the U.S. route....
Oooh, me likey!
Nicely paranoid. I imagine there are quite a few dedicated military communication lines between San Diego (a major US Navy base) and Hawaii...
Somewhere, a US Admiral is getting an ulcer...
Now if they only had a 'Battle Beneath The Earth' (1967) tunnelling laser, we could really ramp up the paranoia!
This is a public service...
Now someone else can have their very own 'The Abyss' by James Cameron!
That, or the very first Aquanauts to meet the Aquatoids, the Gill-men & the Lobster-men (X-Com TFTD) will be Chinese.
Scooping up Manganese nodules from the ocean floor is a good start, and it paves the way for true ocean-floor mining. If you have the tech, then mining all those really expensive metals becomes worth doing...
Re: Why is it illegal to slap a politician?
Ok, gun grabbing? Canada has LOTS of guns but they don't have anything like the number of gun deaths even allowing for the difference in population levels.
Americans seriously can't handle the large number of guns they have - more than 11,000 deaths a year so taking away the guns would help a lot. Some people might be killed due to the ABSENCE of a gun but you'd save far, far more lives than you'd lose.
Mental Health? Yes, you're right. Americans NEED more mental health facilities.
What's this about kevlar-laced school uniforms? I'm FROM the UK (currently living & working in China) & I've never heard of that. A yahoo search comes up with your post but nothing else like it mentioning the UK.
For the record, I think the Americans should...
A: Get rid of the guns. Period.
B: Expand their mental health facilities. A LOT.
C: Decide that a child's right to go to school without worrying about being shot is more important than their right to bear arms.
Re: Constitutional question
Yes, the Constitution CAN be amended. Get enough votes & you can have an amendment that says... pretty much anything you want.
However, it takes a LOT of votes and, in this day & age, won't happen.
It's worth noting that, had the 2nd Amendment been followed, then the number of gun killings would be way, way down from what it currently is - around 11,000 a year.
The 2nd Amendment begins with (and its beginning is convieniently forgotten by most gun advocates) 'A well-regulated militia...'
So you can have a gun but only if you're part of a government-regulated militia. Which would keep (like almost all armies) the guns in the barracks, not in the soldiers/citizens homes. Which would carry out mental health screening. Which would carry out training and address safety issues and so on...
Of course, they'll never do that and so the killing will go on...
Why is it illegal to slap a politician?
Oh, here we go again. The various stages of FAIL whenever there's a large-scale killing involving guns.
Blame the video games! Err, no, they have the same games all over the world (you can actualy get more violent games outside the US) and no, people aren't grabbing guns & walking into places and blazing away.
Blame Hollywood/violent movies! Err, no. See above. And again, there's less censorship outside the US than in it.
Blame the lack of prayer in schools! Ye gods & small fishes! See above.
Blame Marilyn Manson! I don't really care for his music (I'm old) but I don't think for one second that he's got anything to do with gun deaths.
Blame... err... [INSERT HOT ISSUE OF THE DAY HERE]!
But let's make absolutely sure that we don't talk about the extend of mental problems, the lack of facilities to monitor/track/treat them, the easy availability of guns and a significant percent of the population that thinks guns and violence can be answers to their problems.
Take the countries of Western Europe & Canada, throw in Japan and you have a population roughy equal to America's, with a broad similarity of culture, the same, or similar, foods, drinks, games, movies, books etc and you... don't get the same number of gun deaths.
Guns are (Canda excepted) much, much rarer beasts outside the US and mental health (including Canada now) is much better addressed.
So will the States actually do anything? They should but I'm betting that, 2 years from today, nothing meaningful will have been done & another 20,000 people (in ones & twos, most of them not together) will be dead through gun violence.
Re: Ansible (Ender version)
How far apart can they separate the two devices? For that matter, how much information can they transmit & how fast?
Read Charles Stross' Singularity Sky or Iron Sunrise to see Quantum Communications at work...
@Richard Altmann - NK is producing washing machines?
Yes, and they'll deliver them to your... roof... from half a world away...
Although to be fair, its a bit rough on the poor guy who has to go along and get a signature...
Re: And in the West...
Yes, it is a British company & it's launched... Erm...
Next year it it will launch... Erm...
Ok, it'll put people into (sub)orbit starting in... Erm... soon.
Virgin Galactic, selling $100,000 tickets and delivering... Nothing!
Makes you proud to be British.
Freedom goes both ways...
There's a system & Google is playing it. Good for them. Freedom's wonderful, isn't it?
And of course, we are equally free to point out that Google has earned a lot of money and intends to keep as much as it can for itself, while we, the people who need that money and created it in the first place have to use our own money to pay for government services since Google won't be contributing to that.
We also have the freedom to point out that Google, whose motto was 'Don't be evil', has become another parasitic corporation. And we have the freedom to cheerfully wreck its reputation, refuse to use its services and tell all its advertisers that we won't be buying their goods & services because they're advertising with a morally-repugnant organisation.
Isn't freedom wonderful?
Re: Aliens are already here
Hidden aliens - watching us from hiding.
Yes, possibly but really, is it a worthwhile topic? You might as well ask if we're butterflies wondering if we're humans or humans with a strange butterfly fixation...
It's just navel-gazing which makes it a bit hard for everyone else to join in. My navel is fascinating to me but there really aren't many others who would find it so, so I don't invite others to gaze upon it - I've tried it and I tend to get funny looks from people.
Let's talke about something more useful & inclusive like how we can, one day, get to those alien worlds.
Re: It could have been worse.
@Steven Roper: What, we can't do arse jokes? How long have you been on this site? ;-)
@Clive Harris: How about Urroyal, or, if we're being formal, Urroyalhighness?
You can tell I'm English. Arse jokes, can't stay away...
Re: Why hasn't the US "brought democracy" to NK yet?
Well, another reason is that...
A: They have nukes.
B: They're in China's back yard & the last time an American (technically a UN) force got close to China, a few Chinese came south & prolonged the war somewhat.
C: A war would just encourage North Korean people to 'rally around the flag' while, if we all wait a while (another decade or so), it may fall down all by itself.
Futurama taught me everthing I know...
That's an old joke (I liked it though - thumbs up)! We need to rename Uranus to avoid that joke.
As the great Professor Farnsworth said, "We named it Urectum!".
Yes, I'm leaving now...
Thor - Marvel films teach us so much...
They ARE hanging off a tree! Yggdrasil (look it up), as explained by Thor (sorry, The Mighty Thor), is the 'world-tree' and we are all hanging off its branches.
I laugh in scorn at those deluded fools who think we're on the back of a turtle! As the hammered one said, we're all well-hung from a tree.
Re: Time for something completely different...
Oh, the Pony Express was a short-lived thing, sure, but can you imagine? As a young man, riding through miles & miles of countryside - no farms, no roads, no towns or villages, concerns about wild animals & hostile indians - and then, as a happily-retired grandfather, to take the same journey and it's all roads, rails (obviously, he took a train), towns, cities, farms, fences etc.
It's hard to believe, really.
Skylon's too small? Yes & no. There is a need for large payloads, certainly, and Skylon only does 15 tonnes. Before we're done, we'll need massive structures in LEO & GEO. That said, the first batch of those things can be assembled in 15-tonne pieces.
The most revolutionary thing about Skylon is that it completely changes the economics of access-to-orbit. 15-tonnes for only 10 million dollars? People will happily redesign their stuff to be assembled in orbit for a launch price like that. To get close to that figure though, Falcon 9 has to be reused something like 6 times, which is a bit of a tall order IMHO.
SpaceX will (and has) start the ball rolling on making access-to-orbit cheaper though.
Space Elevator? I'm with you, brother, but the next 30-to-50 years will see infrastructure lifted to orbit via rockets or spaceplanes. After that though...
Time for something completely different...
Truly a moment of greatness, yes.
But how do we go on from here? The best thing is for the government to encourage the private sector to make getting into LEO as cheap as possible (cough: Skylon, Falcon (reusable) rockets) & then get out of the way & let mankind spread out into space. It could be done in as little as 50 years.
I remember reading about this American guy who was a Pony Express rider, delivering messages from the East Coast to the West coast as a young man. 50 years later, he took a train on the same route as an old man. Change, which can look so huge at first, can come very quickly.
X-37 - Prototype weapons platform?
What can you do with this? Launch satellites? Yes, but it's easier and simpler to use a rocket rather than a mini-spaceplane on top of a rocket.
Do general research? Yes, but it's easier and simpler to do it without a spaceplane, just throw up a capsule (Dragon, CST-100, Orion etc) and do it there.
To me, the X-37 is built for Space Control (Defensive or Offensive). Refuelling/repairing satellites? A Dragon capsule can do that and probably cheaper too.
Carrying an anti-satellite weapon? Yes, it's capable of doing that.
But wait, wouldn't it need to be able to significantly change its orbit for a mission like that? Why yes, and it's supposed to be able to do that - a delta-V capacity of 3.1km/sec was an early mission requirement.
Weaponising space - the last thing we want to do in the last place we want to do it.
RIP, Sir Patrick Moore.
While he wasn't someone you could apply only one label to, what with his comments about women, Europe etc, he had the ability to take a joke with a smile and a laugh.
Anyone remember 'The Two Ronnies' send-up of The Sky At Night? Sir Patrick happily showed clips of it on one of his shows and looked vastly amused doing it.
Passionate about things he believed in, very educated, eccentric and very English. We won't see his like again.
RIP, Sir Patrick, I hope all your questions are answered now.