back to article US Air Force launches not-so-secret space plane. Thanks Russia

The US Air Force's not-so-secret space plane, the X37-B, has been successfully launched into low-Earth orbit along with an array of interesting test products. The rocket lifted off, after a 20 minute delay, at 1105 EDT (1505 UTC) from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Wednesday and delivered the space plane into orbit with its …

  1. emmanuel goldstein

    The fact the ULA (a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp and Boeing) is still reliant on Russian technology to launch US military hardware has been questioned by some in Congress, with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) complaining that the US was essentially funding Russian companies, despite ongoing sanctions.

    or perhaps it's a sign that humanity can achieve more through cooperation?

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      >or perhaps it's a sign that humanity can achieve more through cooperation?

      Could be, but nothing drives tech like war.

      1. qzdave

        Re: >or perhaps it's a sign that humanity can achieve more through cooperation?

        And nothing drives war like tech

      2. veti Silver badge

        Re: >or perhaps it's a sign that humanity can achieve more through cooperation?

        The reason war drives development is, it gives people the incentive they need to co-operate.

        Ironic, really.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      don't listen to McCain

      Don't listen to old man John McCain yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. He hardly represents the majority of anything. His family is famous for being military fsckups (his granddaddy caused the worst US naval defeat in WW2) who somehow get away with it and gain power after doing so.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        Re: don't listen to McCain

        Don't listen to old man John McCain yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. He hardly represents the majority of anything.

        Yeah, and look what he did to the Nakatomi Tower...

        What?

        Not the same bloke? Oh!

        1. 's water music Silver badge

          Re: don't listen to McCain

          >> Don't listen to old man John McCain yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. He hardly represents the majority of anything.

          > Yeah, and look what he did to the Nakatomi Tower...

          > What?

          > Not the same bloke? Oh!

          Say what you like about him. I still like his oven chips.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: don't listen to McCain

        "complaining that the US was essentially funding Russian companies,"

        Isn't Mr Musk South African?

      3. Afernie

        Re: don't listen to McCain

        "Don't listen to old man John McCain yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. He hardly represents the majority of anything. His family is famous for being military fsckups (his granddaddy caused the worst US naval defeat in WW2) who somehow get away with it and gain power after doing so."

        Er. Which US Naval defeat do you refer to?

        1. James O'Shea Silver badge

          Re: don't listen to McCain

          "Don't listen to old man John McCain yelling for the kids to get off his lawn. He hardly represents the majority of anything. His family is famous for being military fsckups (his granddaddy caused the worst US naval defeat in WW2) who somehow get away with it and gain power after doing so."

          Er. Which US Naval defeat do you refer to?

          I'm rather interested in finding that out, too. So far as I can see, John S. McCain Sr. was in charge of air ops around Guadalcanal for several months in 1942, during which there were several major American naval defeats, including the one where HMAS CANBERRA was sunk, resulting in an American cruiser being named CANBERRA in abject apology. As McCain was not in command at sea, it's hard to see how those defeats could be considered his fault.

          After Guadalcanal he was moved to a staff position in Washington for a while, serving as head of air ops for the entire US Navy. It's difficult to see what naval defeats he was responsible for then, either. In 1944 he went back to the Pacific as a task group commander under Halsey. When Halsey (not, repeat, NOT) McCain swallowed the bait of Ozawa's aptly named Decoy Force and charged north after Ozawa's empty aircraft carriers, leaving the San Bernadino Strait uncovered and therefore allowing Kurita and multiple dreadnoughts, including YAMATO, to roam freely, McCain,acting against orders, turned his task group to try to close the strait. He was too late to stop Kurita from slapping Clifton Sprague's TF77.4 around, and too late to stop Kurita from getting away, but the near-disaster off Samar can't possibly be blamed on him. Sprague's escort carriers were launching aircraft while being literally inside anti-aircraft gun range of Kurita's ships, and Sprague's aircraft were mostly older, obsolescent machines armed with depth charges and rockets for anti-submarine work, not torpedoes and heavy bombs for anti-ship; Oldendorf's dreadnoughts were all south, in Surigao Strait, massacring Shima and Nishimura. If Kurita had pressed on south from Samar he would have had MacArthur's invasion fleet under his guns and could have slaughtered them. As it was Kurita got an escort carrier, a destroyer, and a destroyer escort before withdrawing. It could have been a lot worse, and probably would have been if it hadn't been clear that the American destroyers were more than willing to charge dreadnoughts and ram.

          I would really, really, REALLY like to know which US Naval defeat John S. McCain Sr. was responsible for. I really would.

          1. Afernie

            Re: don't listen to McCain

            "His family is famous for being military fsckups "

            There also seems to be no grounds for considering his son incompetent during the War either. His patrols commanding USS Gunnel seem to have been successes in the face of adversity. So Anon, were you just making up bull about them because (rightly or wrongly) you don't like the current McCain?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: don't listen to McCain

              Read about the Battle of Savo Island which interestingly no longer is mentioned in the wikipedia article under McCain Sr's bio. Luckily for McCain they pinned the whole thing on Captain Bode who also luckily killed himself soon after. As for Jr he brags how he graduated near the bottom of his class and didn't study hard. After all why would a pilot need to study and how could that affect if you are shot down or not?

              " In addition, Admiral Turner had requested that Admiral McCain's air task force conduct a reconnaissance flight of the "Slot" on the afternoon of the 8th. Had this over-flight taken place, Mikawa's fleet would have been seen. This was an inexcusable breakdown in light of all the hostile sightings on the 7th of August. Negative information combines poorly with assumptions. Turner assumed that there was no impending attack since he had not received any reports of enemy ships. He therefore concluded that the absence of reports of an enemy force confirmed his belief of an air attack in the morning. He did not find out until 2330 on 8 August that the requested reconnaissance flight did not occur." (they didn't occur because McCain didn't do his damn job and follow orders).

              1. Afernie

                Re: don't listen to McCain

                "Read about the Battle of Savo Island which interestingly no longer is mentioned in the wikipedia article under McCain Sr's bio. Luckily for McCain they pinned the whole thing on Captain Bode who also luckily killed himself soon after. As for Jr he brags how he graduated near the bottom of his class and didn't study hard. After all why would a pilot need to study and how could that affect if you are shot down or not?"

                I have read about the Battle of Savo Island, thanks (try reading the sources, not Wikipedia). McCain's lack of recon cover played a miniscule part, made irrelevant by the actions of others, both before and after. Bode had the blame pinned on him because having been asleep when the Japanese column appeared, he then told no other Allied formation that his units were under attack, and proceeded to run away, leaving unarmed transport ships he'd been tasked to protect in harms way. In other words, he deserved the lion's share of the blame, because he was shockingly incompetent and a coward.

                1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
                  Go

                  Re: Afernie Re: don't listen to McCain

                  ".....the Battle of Savo Island....." There is no doubt the Japanese Imperial Navy were both skilled and brave in that and many other actions, and it seems to comfort some of the anti-Yank crowd to harp on about the "superior performance" of the Japanese (or maybe they just like crowing about Allied losses). But the undeniable truth of the Battle of Savo Island is that the Japanese commander, Mikawa, turned his forces away without sinking a single Allied transport, which was the actual reason for his attack. Sinking Allied warships was a result, but not sinking the transports before they unloaded supplies for the US Marines just about doomed the Japanese defense of Guadacanal. Whilst the Allies struggled for the six months of the Guadacanal campaign to keep the Marines supplied, the Japanese would probably have over-run the Marines' beachhead if Mikawa had denied them the ammunition, food and medical supplies on those Allied transports. In essence, the Battle of Savo Island was a Pyrrhic victory for the Japanese.

                  1. Afernie

                    Re: Afernie don't listen to McCain

                    Yep, Mikawa blew it. He had an opportunity to exploit the consequences of Bode's decision to totally change the course of the war in the Pacific and chose caution instead.

          2. This post has been deleted by its author

      4. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: AC Re: don't listen to McCain

        "...... His family is famous for being military fsckups (his granddaddy caused the worst US naval defeat in WW2)...... Wow, the haters are really digging deep, selectively, and completely incorrectly! McCain's father was a decorated submarine commander during WW2 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._McCain_Jr.#World_War_II). Ironically, McCain's grandfather spent a large chunk of his WW1 service on the cruiser USS Colorado trying to avoid being sunk by German submarines (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_S._McCain_Sr.#Early_career_and_World_War_I)! Not scared of a challenge, "Slew" McCain decided to try for naval aviator training, a tough and selective challenge for any recruit, graduating the course aged 52. Slew then showed his leadership abilities at Guadacanal where his command included the "Cactus Airforce". At the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Slew's decision to turn around and attack the Japanese fleet that was threatening to over-run the smaller "Taffy 3" fleet of escort carriers caused the Japanese to abandon the action and withdraw.

        Maybe you should read more actual history and less Dummicrat propaganda sites.

        1. MarkA

          Re: AC don't listen to McCain

          You were doing so well until you made a political snipe. Now you're just an idiot; historically accurate, but an idiot.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: don't listen to McCain

        MCcCain family fsckups like the wet-start that almost took out USS Forrestal and the coverup of Israel's murder of the crew of the Liberty?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: don't listen to McCain

          Sorry.... go read again about the USS Forrestal. I dislike McCain's politics and certain other actions but the Forrestal fire wasn't his fault. The missile that started that came from across the deck and nailed the plane next to his....

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_USS_Forrestal_fire

          If you're going to slam, at least get the facts right....

        2. Afernie

          Re: don't listen to McCain

          The fire on the Forrestal was caused by a misfiring Zuni rocket that either hit McCain's Skyhawk, or the one next to it. His involvement was confined to physically being there (and being injured for his troubles). On the other hand, you do rather sound like the type who probably thinks he made the rocket misfire with his alien reptilian mind.

          As for the Liberty affair, (and irrespective of any blame to be apportioned) the other McCain ordered a Court of Enquiry, and that's about it. He was not on the panel nor did he have a say in the enquiry's outcome, unless you have such an outlandish thing as evidence. For your information, evidence is not supplied by such endless sources of grade-A fuckwittery as prisonplanet.com or any of the wide range of anti-semitic, white supremacist forums that regularly peddle this crap.

        3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: AC Re: don't listen to McCain

          "MCcCain family fsckups like the wet-start that almost took out USS Forrestal and the coverup of Israel's murder of the crew of the Liberty?" Apart from the fact neither had anything to do with McCain's grandfather (Slew McCain died days after the end of WW2), John McCain was completely blameless for the USS Forrestal incident. He was a pilot sitting in one of the fuelled and bombed-up A4 jets on the carrier's deck when the accident occurred (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1967_USS_Forrestal_fire). And the USS Liberty incident? None of the McCain family was involved in that event nor the subsequent US investigation. I guess you've just been dribbling over too many anti-Semitic propaganda sites.

    3. noem

      Here! Here! Cooperation between the US and Russia could be fantastic, I would suggest as the first order of business that both countries jointly invade the Ukraine and establish a "peace keeping force". Although things might be confusing with two different military forces in the Ukraine, I'm almost certain that a large wall between the two would prevent any friendly fire. The US and Russian could continue this across various "hot spots" across the world and would usher in a new era of peace and prosperity for all.

      All kidding aside, everyone has different ideas on what works and what doesn't and those goals are sometimes mutually exclusive. SpaceX thinks a new design will offer a better solution, the ULA goes with a "time tested" design. Cooperation generally has a nice ring to it when it isn't saddled with bureaucracy or "in fighting". Organizations generally operate more efficiently when their size does not exceed their needs and when everyone isn't going in a different direction. I think what you meant to say was "lack of belligerence" instead of cooperation. A competition* allows all solutions to be tried and tested with maximum efficiency, given a lack of belligerence between groups.

      *competition does have an aggressive connotation so I would suggest to think of competition in the same manner as trial, or experiment to gauge the success of different solutions.

      1. DocJames
        Headmaster

        Ahem.

        Here! Here!

        I think "Hear! Hear!" is what you're trying to say.

        1. noem

          Re: Ahem.

          I was going to make some kind of joke about local sourced products vs out sourced as a play on Hear! Hear! decided it was too long a rant and then forgot to remove Here! Here! Have an up vote!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Coat

        Co-Dominion anyone?

  2. Gray
    WTF?

    Complaining?

    " ... with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) complaining that the US was essentially funding Russian companies, despite ongoing sanctions."

    Nice choice of a word with negative connotations. Along with "complaining," why not also say "whining, whinging, and sniveling" as well?

    IMHO, if the gentleman is pointing to an obvious fact, it isn't a complaint. It's a factual criticism. American politics and public discourse have become a minefield of "loaded" words, used to discredit the speaker rather than the message. Calling Sen. John McCain's statement a "complaint" falls into that category. But then again, perhaps the word has a different connotation in Blighty?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complaining?

      Next up you'll be telling us that the mother of the autistic child thrown off a diverted plane was threatening the safety of the plane, or that you didn't, in fact, have sex with that woman.

      Note this isn't a complaint.

      1. Mike Moyle Silver badge

        Re: Complaining?

        "...the autistic child thrown off a diverted plane..."

        "..escorted off...", surely.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Complaining?

      Re: Complaining?

      A straight complaint need not be a whinge or a whine - or snivelling. It's a straightforward thing to make a straightforward complaint. Certainly Senator McCain isn't happy about the Atlas V's use of Russian engines in the first stage, as evidenced by the following:

      http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/13/us-usa-military-space-russia-idUKKBN0NY1LJ20150513

      (or this version of the same article:

      http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/05/13/usa-military-space-russia-idUKL1N0Y423V20150513)

      http://uk.reuters.com/article/2015/03/18/us-russia-usa-rockets-idUKKBN0ME2PS20150318

      Gray's suggestion that the original article might just as well have claimed Senator McCain whined or snivelled could IMHO be argued (as Gray does with respect to Iain Thomson's article) to be a use of loaded words in order to discredit the author rather than the message - that is, it could be viewed as an attempt by Gray to discredit Iain Thomson's reporting for El Reg.

  3. Graham Marsden

    "it will be testing out a new ion drive for military satellites"

    Satellites? Oh, yeah, sure, satellites...

  4. GBE

    Atlas V is a "russian rocket"!!

    "Not mentioned however was the fact that the mission was using a Russian designed and made Atlas V rocket"

    I call bollocks. The Atlas-V was designed and built by Lockheed-Martin in the US.

    The RD-180 first stage booster engine currently used on the Atlas-V is Russian. I don't think that makes the Atlas-V a "Russian designed and made rocket".

    I suppose the Boeing 747 was a British designed and built airliner? After all, it had R-R engines didnt' it?

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Atlas V is a "russian rocket"!!

      Apology was received

      , Iain Thomson wrote:

      > Going through the comments I see a terrible mistake has been made

      Also you forgot to use Bcc instead of Cc!

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  8. asdf Silver badge

    why we use Russian stuff

    Its virtually impossible to do any complex project today without it turning into a massively over budget super late delivered clusterfsck (see the F35 and virtually ever other aircraft developed in the last two decades). This is doubly true if Boeing is involved (see over billion dollars wasted on virtual border fence Boeing pork).

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: why we use Russian stuff

      Two decades? Try at least four. I believe that pretty much every program during and Vietnam has been so afflicted. When it actually works as intended, but we usually buy it regardless of fitness for purpose, and in quantities set for political reasons, not requirements.

      I was tilting at that windmill right up 'til the door hit my ass on the way out. And receiving rejected challenges a decade later. At least the Russian gear is designed with huge engineering tolerances and a lot cheaper.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: why we use Russian stuff

        Four decades is pretty much on the money and would seem to affect Russia too.

        That engine is a direct derivative of the oxygen rich, closed cycle units[1] developed for the Soviet moon rocket a shade over four decades ago.

        The reason it's used is that, when it comes to efficiency in chemical rocketry, it kicks the living shit out of anything anyone else has produced before or since.

        [1] Often described as the "holy grail of chemical rocketry", making the fact that the Soviets got it working years ago even more embarrassing.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: why we use Russian stuff

        >Two decades? Try at least four.

        Hmm so about the time the The Worse Generation ie. the Baby Boomers hit the work force then. What a coincidence.Guess that I gots to get mine first attitude isn't conducive to group accomplishments. Funny that.

    2. Yag

      Re: why we use Russian stuff

      Just go and watch "pentagon wars" for a (very dramatized) example...

    3. Hans 1 Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: why we use Russian stuff

      >Its virtually impossible to do any complex project today without it turning into a massively over budget super late delivered clusterfsck (see the F35 and virtually ever other aircraft developed in the last two decades). This is doubly true if Boeing is involved (see over billion dollars wasted on virtual border fence Boeing pork).

      That is mainly because the guyz in charge USED TO BE veteran techies, now, the guyz in charge are management school excrements with absolutely zarro clue of the technical side of things, or implications of their decisions.

      As for the other numpties, the Airbus 320, 330, and 340's were not late.

      1. Hans 1 Silver badge

        Re: why we use Russian stuff

        @self

        Ohh, I forgot, the young techies also are to blame ... a lot of them think that since they have their shiny diploma with good grades, they are god-like when it comes to technical design.

        A bit like current IT developers ... 150Mb for a printer driver ... FFS!!!!! Shoot them, please!

  9. AbelSoul
    Trollface

    setting an orbital record for a reusable spacecraft...

    ... with a 674-day mission last year

    I'm surprised they found the time to squeeze it in.

    1. Gordo Rex

      Re: setting an orbital record for a reusable spacecraft...

      If they're talking Martian years, they could, just.

    2. Indolent Wretch

      Re: setting an orbital record for a reusable spacecraft...

      Maybe it was just going really, REALLY fast!

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Meanwhile, in a small cottage on the coast...

    "ULA is honored to launch this unique spacecraft for the U.S Air Force. Congratulations to the Air Force and all of our mission partners on today's successful launch! The seamless integration between the Air Force, Boeing, and the entire mission team culminated in today's successful launch of the AFSPC-5 mission."

    Goddammit, son! Did you tune into Radio Soviet Corporate America again? Turn that shit off!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good research, bad alliance

    The U.S. was naïve and foolish to ever get in bed with the unscrupulous Russian government. It's nothing short of a miracle that this rocket did not burst into flames like the other recent Russian rocket launches. The U.S. government needs to pull it's head out of it's arse and get it's own rocket development back on track.

    1. DryBones
      Holmes

      Re: Good research, bad alliance

      They sourced a Russian engine. You know, like everyone sources tons of stuff Made In China. Outsourcing has its risks, got enough paint to get the rest of the business world with that brush?

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Good research, bad alliance

      The U.S. was naïve and foolish to ever get in bed with the unscrupulous Russian government.

      Senator McCain, sir! Don't you have a rabid attack dog speech to prepare on Ukraine? Stop posting here. There's people to save and countries to bomb!

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