Smeggy's Forums

Forums where you CAN vent!

Skip to content

The Air Force's Secret Robotic Space Plane

Forum for NASA and all other Space Exploration and Observation

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

the Air Force's Secret Robotic Space Plane

OK, OK, it is, cough, Popular Mechanics, but interesting none the less.....


Behind the Air Force's Secret Robotic Space Plane
Move over NASA. The U.S. Air Force has spent decades on the concept: an unmanned space plane that can be used to spy, reposition satellites, possibly even bomb targets, then return to base. A successful launch next week could turn that vision into a reality.

Image

When the engines of a 19-story Atlas V ignite in April at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, the liftoff will look like any other for the workhorse launch vehicle. After about 4 minutes, the engines will cut off and the rocket's first stage will fall away, freeing the second stage to boost the upper section of the rocket into low Earth orbit.

Away from prying eyes, the mission will cease to be ordinary. A few seconds after the second stage fires, the fairing, a protective shroud that surrounds the cargo at the rocket's tip, will split in half, revealing the classified payload: a 29-foot-long delta-wing spacecraft called the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle. It might look like a miniature version of the space shuttle, but this spacecraft is unmanned, and instead of NASA, the U.S. Air Force is operating it. The moment the X-37B emerges from the shroud will mark the fulfillment of a dream the Department of Defense has been pursuing for nearly 50 years: the orbital flight of a military vehicle that combines an airplane's agility with a spacecraft's capacity to travel in orbit at 5 miles per second.

At the end of its maiden trip, which could last days or even weeks, the X-37B will glide to Earth under robotic control without the benefit of engines. Instead, it will rely on flight-control surfaces in the tail to steer it through a fiery re-entry, during which the nose and leading edges of the wings must resist 3000-degree-Fahrenheit temperatures. The flight will end in secrecy with a 230-mph touchdown on an isolated runway at an Air Force base in California, most likely Vandenberg. If all goes well, the X-37B will be the first unmanned space plane to complete an orbital mission.

Though based in many ways on the shuttle-the only operational orbital space plane in the world-the X-37B showcases plenty of innovation. The shuttle uses hydraulic lines to power the control surfaces on its wings and tail, but the X-37B takes advantage of small, powerful electromechanical actuators instead, eliminating the weight of fluid and hoses. In lieu of the ceramic tiles used on the shuttle, the X-37B's leading edges and nose cap are made of an easily shaped composite material that NASA developed when the space agency ran the experimental craft's development, before the military took charge of it in 2004.

The stubby 15-foot wingspan also echoes the shuttle's design, but unlike the larger craft, which has one tall vertical stabilizer, the X-37B has a V-tail with two ruddervators, a combination of a rudder and an elevator. David Hamilton, the director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, explains that the shorter V-tails are easier to package in a fairing, something that's not a concern for the shuttle. Those V-tails also help guide the X-37B through its 40-degree, nose-high re-entry, while a speed brake along the upper centerline helps it slow down as it prepares to land. Since the X-37B is unmanned, it does not need hardware to maintain a pressurized compartment for a crew and does not have to carry supplies for an extended manned mission.


Article continues here ...

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

User avatar
Aliens Ate My Chicken!
Posts: 118777
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:32 am
Location: Smegland
How Hot Are You?: The Big Bang!!
Current Mood: Won Tons Mons

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

smeggypants wrote:....instead of NASA, the U.S. Air Force is operating it....



Time to start clearing out those shelters at the bottom of the garden then.

The best facial is a daily facial.

User avatar
Insane Poster
Posts: 23951
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:40 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia
Current Mood: unknown

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Looks like being adept at playing an X-Box is a requirement for joining the Military these days

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

User avatar
Aliens Ate My Chicken!
Posts: 118777
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:32 am
Location: Smegland
How Hot Are You?: The Big Bang!!
Current Mood: Won Tons Mons

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

smeggypants wrote:Looks like being adept at playing an X-Box is a requirement for joining the Military these days


Funny you mention that, Smeggy.
Most people who enlist in the military these days are quite young and they have games consoles. On their consoles they have all sorts of war-sims. So far, modern day war seems to be the in-thing in gaming. (Especially as World War 2 and Zombies have been done to death.)

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/vi ... uty-Effect

If you ever thought USAF were trigger happy in years gone by, just imagine what the new breed of airman is like. They'll be more life the Angry German Kid than disciplined and accurate fighting men. But that's just me being a cynic again.

If you aren't willing to stand behind your troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

Lex iniusta non est lex

User avatar
Grand Master
Posts: 7045
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Residing somewhere in Sengenydd
How Hot Are You?: Frosty Weekend in Rhyl
Current Mood: Snarky

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Our company uses STK software from Analytical Graphics for locating and observing orbital craft.

http://www.stk.com/products/by-capabili ... -software/

But the vendor has of late been producing stuff that is much darker

http://www.stk.com/products/by-capabili ... -software/

At the end of the day though it is simply mathematics, only an idiot would consider putting ordnance into a rocket.

The best facial is a daily facial.

User avatar
Insane Poster
Posts: 23951
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:40 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia
Current Mood: unknown

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Gunner 51 wrote:
smeggypants wrote:Looks like being adept at playing an X-Box is a requirement for joining the Military these days


Funny you mention that, Smeggy.
Most people who enlist in the military these days are quite young and they have games consoles. On their consoles they have all sorts of war-sims. So far, modern day war seems to be the in-thing in gaming. (Especially as World War 2 and Zombies have been done to death.)

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/vi ... uty-Effect

If you ever thought USAF were trigger happy in years gone by, just imagine what the new breed of airman is like. They'll be more life the Angry German Kid than disciplined and accurate fighting men. But that's just me being a cynic again.



The other thing is that reducing warfare to people sitting in a secure room thousands of miles from the combat zone operating unmanned drones armed with rockets and machine guns is that it dehumanises everything. them the targets are nothing more than what you woudl see on a video game or at best a movie so they may not even feel like they are killing a real life person.

And on the subject of games. It's OK to produce and sell games depicting mass murder, but if anyone tried to produce and sell a game depicting mass nudity and mass sex it would be banned everywhere. Society is more happy to promote violence than sex. Terrible state of affairs IMO.

-----|0| None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. |0|-----

"Capitalism profits from War - Humanity profits from Peace."

User avatar
Aliens Ate My Chicken!
Posts: 118777
Joined: Sat Dec 15, 2007 8:32 am
Location: Smegland
How Hot Are You?: The Big Bang!!
Current Mood: Won Tons Mons

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

smeggypants wrote:And on the subject of games. It's OK to produce and sell games depicting mass murder, but if anyone tried to produce and sell a game depicting mass nudity and mass sex it would be banned everywhere. Society is more happy to promote violence than sex. Terrible state of affairs IMO.


Only in the Western world. In Asia, Japan in particular, computer adult roleplaying games are not only on sale, but are part of the arcade and Internet cafe way of life for many young adults.

The best facial is a daily facial.

User avatar
Insane Poster
Posts: 23951
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:40 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia
Current Mood: unknown

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Channel Hopper wrote:
smeggypants wrote:And on the subject of games. It's OK to produce and sell games depicting mass murder, but if anyone tried to produce and sell a game depicting mass nudity and mass sex it would be banned everywhere. Society is more happy to promote violence than sex. Terrible state of affairs IMO.


Only in the Western world. In Asia, Japan in particular, computer adult roleplaying games are not only on sale, but are part of the arcade and Internet cafe way of life for many young adults.


Funny you mention that. I was watching Neurotically Yours and the subject of Sex and Violence in games did crop up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUY9kTYiC7w <----NSFW

Please forgive the ending - it's full of in-jokes. But on the whole it's a surprisingly intelligent cartoon this one.

If you aren't willing to stand behind your troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

Lex iniusta non est lex

User avatar
Grand Master
Posts: 7045
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Residing somewhere in Sengenydd
How Hot Are You?: Frosty Weekend in Rhyl
Current Mood: Snarky

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

Gunner 51 wrote:Funny you mention that. I was watching Neurotically Yours and the subject of Sex and Violence in games did crop up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUY9kTYiC7w <----NSFW

Please forgive the ending - it's full of in-jokes. But on the whole it's a surprisingly intelligent cartoon this one.



OK, I was thinking more of the dedicated roll player games for those too scared to meet real people beyond the laptop.

http://www.lizardkingdom.org/archives/2 ... y_xii.html

Image

Final Fantasy is the one that springs to mind when discussing erotic gaming (the designers are on series 15 - or 16 ? for general 'release' later this year), but there are plenty of pretenders to the crown that go the final few inches.
Hentai sex games have cum of age with 3D (for real saddos sporting Quality Street wrappers stuck on their specs) are now on the hit-list for censorship when it 'comes' to playing online.

Never has a geek's extremities got so sore......

The best facial is a daily facial.

User avatar
Insane Poster
Posts: 23951
Joined: Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:40 pm
How Hot Are You?: Siberia
Current Mood: unknown

Top Forum Index Page New Posts

Posted on

      

I've never got into the Final Fantasy games, I much prefer Western RPGs though.

Better stories, more and better sidequests, better characters. (Bioware does some damned fine RPGs IMO. http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon_Age_Wiki )

Dragon Age, if the sensors get wind of the so called sex scene... (Though it's looks almost the same as the one in Mass Effect.)

If you aren't willing to stand behind your troops, feel free to stand in front of them.

Lex iniusta non est lex

User avatar
Grand Master
Posts: 7045
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 7:47 pm
Location: Residing somewhere in Sengenydd
How Hot Are You?: Frosty Weekend in Rhyl
Current Mood: Snarky


Share this Topic on Facebook:

Return to NASA - Space

Similar topics

  • Topics
    Replies
    Views
    Last post
    Top of Page

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron