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[i]I have now read the as-published Spaceflight article and its technical argument is as unjustified as it originally looked, based on the second-hand BBC account [which was very professionally accurate].
The one-page article [no author], entitled "Is X-37B stalking China's space station?", describes the X-37B and Tiangong-1 as being "in almost exactly the same orbit", with the X-37B having "the ability to approach Tiangong-1 for diagnostic tracking and systems monitoring." [graf 1]. It then describes maneuvers by X-37B that "would bring it into a co-planar orbit with Tiangong-1." [graf 3]
The specific claim that the two vehicles are in the same orbit and co-planar is factually false.
The initial impressions of a 'horrendous' mistake in orbital mechanics are validated by the actual article.
By the way: An introduction to the article, by 'THE EDITOR' on page 1, actually endorses the theorized mission as prudent and justified, and applauds it.[/i]
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