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  [Discuss] USAF X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) (Page 2)

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Author Topic:   [Discuss] USAF X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV)
Philip
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posted 11-01-2013 11:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Philip   Click Here to Email Philip     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
X-37 footage from South Africa: Orbital Test Vehicle 3 in December 2012.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 12-12-2013 08:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wednesday (Dec. 11, 2013) marked one year since the launch of the X-37B on the OTV-3 mission.

The U.S. Air Force has provided no indication as to when the vehicle will land.

cspg
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posted 12-12-2013 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quite amazing. One year in space. Do we know if the vehicle is still operational?

Jim Behling
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posted 12-12-2013 01:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why is that amazing and why wouldn't it be still working? It is just another spacecraft.

NPP was launched a year before still is working. Commsats last 10-15 years. Landsats have lasted decades. Pioneers, Voyager, MRO, Mars Odyssey, etc.

You think just because it lands, it is unique in its on orbit life?

MSL landed on Mars after traveling 8 months in deep space. Stardust returned a capsule after 7 years. Cassini landed a probe on Titan after 8 years.

cspg
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posted 12-12-2013 02:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Jim Behling:
Why is that amazing and why wouldn't it be still working? It is just another spacecraft.
Seriously? None of spacecraft you refer to are winged vehicles last time I checked and none will return to Earth to be studied and I wouldn't place MSL and Cassini in the same category. As for my query regarding its operational status, the DoD is not NASA.

Jim Behling
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posted 12-12-2013 09:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Are you serious? What do wings have to do with the vehicle operating in space for longer than a year? And yes, Stardust did return to earth. But then again, what does any of this have to do with its orbital lifetime?

The wings, landing avionics and guidance, landing gear, etc. have no bearing on OTV operating as a spacecraft or orbit duration. It is "just another" spacecraft is space. It has an operational mission on orbit and "being studied" after landing is the least of it.

My point still stands, what is so "amazing" about being in space for a year? Or for the matter how does being sponsored by the DOD vs. NASA have an effect on whether the vehicle is still working?

SpaceCadet1983
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posted 12-13-2013 11:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I agree with Jim. There are numerous DoD sats that have outlasted their design times, DSP sats being one example. Also lost in this discussion is the fact that OTV-2 was on orbit for 469 days before returning to earth.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-27-2014 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceCadet1983:
...OTV-2 was on orbit for 469 days before returning to earth.
OTV-3 surpassed OTV-2's record on Wednesday (March 26).

SpaceCadet1983
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posted 03-27-2014 06:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
AWESOME! Now the question remains as to how far will the USAF push the duration envelope. My contact at VAFB says they've still expecting OTV-3 to land at Vandenberg, but that's contingent on how long it stays on orbit. I'd say a VAFB landing is a safe bet as the USAF tends to be cautious when testing new technologies, and the completion of the Boeing infrastructure at KSC seems too far off, but who knows!

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-24-2014 06:53 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As of today (April 24), OTV-3 has been in orbit for 500 days.
The current mission "seems long, but that's based off of the original [270-day] estimate. We don't have anything else to go on," [Brian Weeden, a technical adviser with the Secure World Foundation and a former orbital analyst with the Air Force] told Space.com. "And it's not long for other satellites. It's common for satellites, especially typical national security satellites that are well-designed, to be in orbit for years to decades."

dabolton
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posted 04-24-2014 08:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's okay for objects that aren't intending to return to earth to stay up for years but what about components that are needed for landing, such as tires or control surfaces?

SpaceCadet1983
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posted 09-06-2014 02:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
X-37B OTV-3 surpasses 600 days in space.
In December 2012, the U.S. Air Force launched a miniature space shuttle into orbit. By the end of August, the unmanned space plane had spent 627 days on its classified military mission that seems to have no end.

SpaceCadet1983
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posted 10-11-2014 02:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceCadet1983   Click Here to Email SpaceCadet1983     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Preparations for the third landing of the X-37B, the U.S. Air Force's unmanned, reusable space plane, are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
I would have bet on the X-37B OTV-3 landing at the Kennedy Space Center in December, shortly after achieving two-years on-orbit. I know with the upcoming Orion EFT-1 mission coming up around Dec. 4, personnel there are probably 110%+ focused on it, but still, it would have made more sense to land if/when Boeing completes work on the OPF.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-11-2014 02:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
An Air Force spokesperson in July confirmed that Vandenberg Air Force Base was to serve as the primary landing site for OTV-3, so it has been known for several months that it would be returning to California.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-12-2014 09:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to several media reports (including Reuters), the U.S. Air Force plans to land the X-37B on Tuesday (Oct. 14), though the exact time and date will depend on weather and technical factors.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-14-2014 10:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Irene Klotz (Reuters/Discovery News) notes on Twitter:
Looks like X-37B landing is off until tomorrow. New notice to pilots closes Vandy airspace from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m local time on Wednesday.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-15-2014 01:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Today's notice to airmen suggests a landing won't happen today. Runway is closed today, but airspace is closed tomorrow (Oct. 16).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-16-2014 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
No landing today; NOTAMs updated to close the airspace for Friday (Oct. 17).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2014 12:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Reports from locals coming in that the X-37B landed this morning on Runway 12 at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2014 01:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to the Air Force's 30th Space Wing, the X-37B landed at 9:24 a.m. PDT (1624 GMT) after 675 days in space.
The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2014 07:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Photos from today's (Oct. 17) landing are here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-17-2014 08:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Interesting factoid from Boeing:
With a program total of 1,367 days on orbit over three missions, these agile and powerful small space vehicles have completed more days on orbit than all 135 Space Shuttle missions combined, which total 1,334 days.

cspg
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posted 10-18-2014 01:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did they add fighter jet sound to the landing video to make it more "cool"? There's no reason for that vehicle to make any noise, is there?

As for the factoid, I can't help but think that there's a tiny note of sarcasm behind it...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-18-2014 03:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I don't think there was any sarcasm intended with the factoid. The comment was part of a longer quote by Ken Torok, Boeing's director of Experimental Systems.

As for the audio in the video, I believe what you're hearing the X-37B itself. It landed at a speed of about 300 miles per hour.

perineau
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posted 10-19-2014 11:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think it would make a lot more sense to pay Boeing to man-rate the X-37B instead of spending billions on a space capsule to ferry astronauts based on technology of a half-century ago (Apollo).

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-19-2014 11:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Although the X-37 began as a NASA project, now that it under the auspices of the Air Force, NASA nor Boeing can further develop the X-37B unless allowed by the military.

Beyond that though, winged spacecraft are just as old as capsules (e.g. X-15, X-20) and are no more modern a concept. Comparing winged craft and capsules is like comparing pencils and pens — they are both valid solutions to a similar need with different benefits and drawbacks.

Even were the military to allow for an advanced, civilian version of the X-37B, it would still cost billions to advance it to a crewed version capable of supporting the needs of the International Space Station.

Jim Behling
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posted 10-19-2014 01:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by perineau:
I think it would make a lot more sense to pay Boeing to man-rate the X-37B...
X-37B is too small to carry men, see earlier in this thread.

perineau
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posted 10-19-2014 01:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Points well taken although I believe that the Dream Chaser project, for example, is an example of a much simplier and modern way (and a lot more comfortable ride when it comes to re-entry!) for astronauts and others to reach space...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 10-19-2014 01:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wings offer their own complications. A capsule can self-right and follow a ballistic trajectory if need be, whereas a winged vehicle's return must be controlled.

With wings also comes concerns over the landing gear and additional training requirements.

As for the comfort upon landing, wings are not the only way to mitigate a "hard" landing (e.g. powered or propulsive descent).

Jim Behling
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posted 10-19-2014 01:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceCadet1983:
I know with the upcoming Orion EFT-1 mission coming up around Dec. 4, personnel there are probably 110%+ focused on it...
Personnel involved with EFT-1 would not be involved with X-37B if it were to have landed at KSC. There isn't a common pool of workers that support every operation.

X-37B is supported by Boeing. EFT-1 is a Lockheed Martin spacecraft on a ULA launch vehicle. TOSC (Jacobs) provided some support to LM for ammonia servicing.

Here is a list of operations and the contractors preforming the work in the next few weeks.

  • EFT-1 in the LASF for installation of the LAS - LM
  • D-IV Heavy at SLC-37 - ULA
  • D-IV at HIF - ULA
  • GPS in the DPF (DSCS processing facility) - LM (a different group from EFT-1)
  • Atlas at SLC-41 VIF - ULA
  • Atlas at ASOC - ULA
  • Falcon 9 at SLC-40 - SpaceX
  • Dragon at SPIF - SpaceX
In a few weeks:
  • MMS at Astrotech - GSFC inhouse
  • DSCOVR at Astrotech - GSFC inhouse (different from above)
  • MUOS at Astrotech - LM (still a different group)
These spacecraft arrive at the launch site much earlier than their launch vehicles.

X-37 would have just been another operation and Boeing would have sent people there to support it (just as they did prelaunch).

Just a point of info. Spacecraft that are sent to the launch site from the factory are accompanied by personnel from the factory, who perform the work on the spacecraft. The exception are spacecraft with high launch rates like GPS and Dragon, spacecraft with manufacturing collocated at the launch site (Orion) or reusable vehicles (shuttle and Spacehab).

perineau
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posted 10-19-2014 11:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for perineau   Click Here to Email perineau     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...your observations about the difficulties of winged flight are of course valid, but I think that the X-37B has well proven that we pretty much master the technology!


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