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X-37B launches on third mission

Posted on Wednesday, 12 December, 2012 | Comment icon 14 comments | News tip by: Waspie_Dwarf

Image credit: NASA

The US Air Force's enigmatic space plane, the X-37B, has embarked on its third mysterious mission.

The secretive X-37s are fueled by a combination of solar power and batteries, allowing them to stay in space for long periods of time. Officially their purpose is to "demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform". "They’ll run experiments to see if the new technology works, then bring it all back home and inspect it to see what was really going on in space," said Gary Payton, Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for Space Programs.

To date however the exact nature of the experiments has remained a secret with the Air Force refusing to provide specific details. Some question whether the X-37s are actually performing experiments at all and whether the flights could have ulterior motives.

"After a delay of nearly two months owing to a technical glitch, the Air Force’s secretive X-37B space plane blasted off again from Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop an Atlas rocket on Tuesday."

  View: Full article |  Source: Wired

  Discuss: View comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by DONTEATUS on 13 December, 2012, 2:34
A replacement for the aged U2 perhaps packing some tactical countermeasures. Yes, this would be justifiably irksome to certain foreign governments. The most logical answer yet ! The U.S. still needs to see whats going on around the world every day ! That little X-37B fills the bill. In all aspects ! Even a few we know not about !
Comment icon #6 Posted by ROGER on 13 December, 2012, 3:12
And I simply like the idea of a flying space craft. Upload cost verses Mass be damned . If the powers that be want more interest from the general public on any Space exploration they should make it " LOOK GOOD " ! I for one would hate to be seen in a space vehicle that looks like a " BORG " cube!
Comment icon #7 Posted by ROGER on 13 December, 2012, 5:14
Now this I can get behind !
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 13 December, 2012, 10:16
The most logical answer yet ! Actually, no it isn't. If the X-37B was a replacement for the U2s it would have to be capable of taking high resolution images. High resolution means large optics. The current Key Hole (aka Big Bird) spy satellites have mirrors the size of the one on the Hubble Space Telescope. The X-37B is much too small to carry such optics. Then there is the flexibility. A U2 can be launched at short notice to overfly any where in the world. The X-37 needs months of preparation. Once in orbit it has limited manoeuvrability meaning it can't easily overfly a trouble spot at short... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by skookum on 14 December, 2012, 10:27
Makes me wonder if it's purpose is to monitor what Chinese spacecrafts do when they are in orbit.
Comment icon #10 Posted by The Russian Hare on 15 December, 2012, 0:50
I love reading about this thing. It's just so mysterious.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 15 December, 2012, 9:07
Makes me wonder if it's purpose is to monitor what Chinese spacecrafts do when they are in orbit. This is also highly unlikely. Trying to observe on satellite moving at over 17,000 mph from another satellite moving at over 17,000 mph is extremely difficult, unless they are in the same orbit. The OTV has been tracked in orbit on both its previous flights by amateurs and it has not manoeuvred close to any other satellites, Chinese or otherwise.
Comment icon #12 Posted by DONTEATUS on 16 December, 2012, 5:41
ANy bets on the real capabilities ? Your right on some of the points Waspie about the X-37B but you cant tell us that the Airforce isnt using it for sim-Flights . Theres a real reason that its up there besides training. IMO
Comment icon #13 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 16 December, 2012, 11:44
ANy bets on the real capabilities ? Your right on some of the points Waspie about the X-37B but you cant tell us that the Airforce isnt using it for sim-Flights . Theres a real reason that its up there besides training. IMO Who said it was just for t4raining? Training for what? I have never said it doesn't have a purpose, I just don't know what that purpose is. However it is possible to exclude some theories.
Comment icon #14 Posted by DONTEATUS on 17 December, 2012, 3:57
Well a little bird tweeted into my ear,but he would have to Kill everyone If it got out what there doing,I just know my last address is not where Im broadcasting from ! THe X-37B is quite the new toy in the inventory Indeed. Looks simple but Looks are always not what they seem to be. ITs all in the back seat !

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