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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     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?

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 believe what you're hearing the X-37B itself. It landed at a speed of about 300 miles per hour.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-30-2015 02:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The next X-37B (OTV) will launch atop an Atlas V on the Air Force's AFSPC-5 mission, currently scheduled for May 6, 2015. According to Spaceflight Now:
The Air Force won't yet confirm which of the Boeing-built spaceplanes will be making the voyage. The first craft returned in October from a 675-day mission in space following a 224 day trek in 2010. OTV No. 2 spent 469 days in space in 2011-2012 on its only mission so far.

"The program selects the Orbital Test Vehicle for each activity based upon the experiment objectives," said Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesperson.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2015 04:13 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 Robert Pearlman:
The next X-37B (OTV) will launch atop an Atlas V on the Air Force's AFSPC-5 mission, currently scheduled for May 6, 2015.
Update from United Launch Alliance:
The ULA Atlas V launch of the AFSPC-5 mission has been delayed to no earlier than May 20, 2015 at the request of the U.S. Air Force to accommodate a spacecraft issue.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-27-2015 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Update from United Launch Alliance:
The ULA Atlas V launch of the AFSPC-5 mission has been confirmed on the Eastern Range for May 20, 2015. The U.S. Air Force has confirmed the spacecraft is on track to meet this launch date.
U.S. Air Force release
AFRL thruster experiment to fly on X-37B

The Air Force Research Laboratory, Space and Missile Systems Center, and Rapid Capabilities Office are collaborating to host a Hall thruster experiment onboard the X-37B flight vehicle.

The experiment will be hosted on Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4, the fourth flight of the X-37B reusable space plane.

The first three OTV flights have accumulated a total of 1367 days of on-orbit experimentation prior to successful landings and recoveries at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA. The X-37B program performs risk reduction, experimentation, and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies, and it is administered by RCO.

The Hall thruster that will fly on the X-37B experiment is a modified version of the units that have propelled SMC's first three Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications spacecraft. A Hall thruster is a type of electric propulsion device that produces thrust by ionizing and accelerating a noble gas, usually xenon. While producing comparatively low thrust relative to conventional rocket engines, Hall thrusters provide significantly greater specific impulse, or fuel economy. This results in increased payload carrying capacity and a greater number of on-orbit maneuvers for a spacecraft using Hall thrusters rather than traditional rocket engines.

This experiment will enable in-space characterization of Hall thruster design modifications that are intended to improve performance relative to the state-of-the-art units onboard AEHF. The experiment will include collection of telemetry from the Hall thruster operating in the space environment as well as measurement of the thrust imparted on the vehicle. The resulting data will be used to validate and improve Hall thruster and environmental modeling capabilities, which enhance the ability to extrapolate ground test results to actual on-orbit performance. The on-orbit test plans are being developed by AFRL and administered by RCO.

The experiment has garnered strong support from AFRL senior leadership.

"Space is so vitally important to everything we do," said Maj. Gen. Tom Masiello, AFRL commander. "Secure comms, ISR, missile warning, weather prediction, precision navigation and timing all rely on it, and the domain is increasingly contested. A more efficient on-orbit thruster capability is huge. Less fuel burn lowers the cost to get up there, plus it enhances spacecraft operational flexibility, survivability and longevity."

Dr. Greg Spanjers, the AFRL Space Capability Lead and Chief Scientist of the Space Vehicles Directorate, added, "AFRL is proud to be able to contribute to this research teamed with our partners at SMC, RCO, NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Aerojet-Rocketdyne. It was great to see our Gov't-Contractor team identify an opportunity and then quickly respond to implement a solution that will offer future Air Force spacecraft even greater capabilities."

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-06-2015 01:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Test Materials to Fly on Air Force Space Plane

Building on more than a decade of data from International Space Station (ISS) research, NASA is expanding its materials science research by flying an experiment on the U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane.

By flying the Materials Exposure and Technology Innovation in Space (METIS) investigation on the X-37B, materials scientists have the opportunity to expose almost 100 different materials samples to the space environment for more than 200 days. METIS is building on data acquired during the Materials on International Space Station Experiment (MISSE), which flew more than 4,000 samples in space from 2001 to 2013.

"By exposing materials to space and returning the samples to Earth, we gain valuable data about how the materials hold up in the environment in which they will have to operate," said Miria Finckenor, the co-investigator on the MISSE experiment and principal investigator for METIS at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "Spacecraft designers can use this information to choose the best material for specific applications, such as thermal protection or antennas or any other space hardware."

The International Space Station is a unique orbiting laboratory used to conduct hundreds of investigations each year, with half of the research resources designated as a U.S. National Laboratory for investigations selected through the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) to provide direct benefits to people living on Earth. NASA research focuses on advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating technologies to enable human exploration into deep space through investigations such as the current one-year mission with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly.

It is difficult to simulate all the aspects of the space environment, so testing materials for extended durations is particularly important. Programs across the aerospace industry, including NASA's Mars Curiosity rover, the James Webb Space Telescope, and SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft have improved performance by selecting materials tested on the space station. All of the data from the MISSE investigations are available in the Materials and Processes Technical Information System, where the METIS data also will be made available.

Researchers are flying some materials as part of METIS that also were tested during MISSE. Testing the same types of materials again can help scientists verify results obtained on the orbital outpost. If researchers see different results between the same type of materials used on both METIS and MISSE, it would help scientists learn about the differences experienced in various orbital environments.

"When we flew newly developed static-dissipative coatings on MISSE-2, we did not know they would be used for both the Curiosity rover and the SpaceX Dragon," said Finckenor. "Some program we don't know about now will be successful because engineers found the data they needed."

The METIS experiment complements the station research, looking at a variety of materials of interest for use on spacecraft built by NASA, industry, and other government agencies. The materials flown in space are potential candidates to replace obsolescent materials with environmentally-friendly options.

Finckenor leads a diverse team of investigators from other NASA centers, aerospace companies, and universities. For both MISSE and METIS, the customers supply small quarter-size samples. METIS will fly a variety of materials including polymers, composites, and coatings. Finckenor prepares the samples for flight and helps with post-flight sample analysis.

"Data from the space station and METIS materials experiments will improve the lifetime and operations of future spacecraft needed for NASA's journey to Mars," said Lisa Watson-Morgan, Marshall's chief engineer.

Marshall provided the hardware for the experiment, while the Air Force is providing NASA the opportunity to fly the experiment. The flight provides researchers an opportunity to collect additional data in advance of the next MISSE experiment aboard the space station in a couple of years.

The Air Force operates the unpiloted, robotically controlled and reusable X-37B space plane to test technology during long-duration missions. It has completed three missions launching from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, with the last mission ending in October 2014 after 674 days in orbit. It takes off vertically, lands horizontally, and continues to further industrial advancement for reusable space test vehicles.

Data in the Materials and Processes Technical Information System are available to U.S. citizens, who can apply for an account here.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 05-20-2015 10:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The U.S. Air Force's fourth X-37B mission lifted off at 11:05 a.m. EDT (1505 GMT) on Wednesday (May 20).
The X-37B's ascent marked the start of a new direction for the 29-foot-long (9-meter) classified shuttle.

"With the success of the first three missions, we're able to shift our focus from checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads," Randy Walden, director of the Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement.

Jim Behling
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posted 05-20-2015 07:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Payload patch for today's launch:

dabolton
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posted 05-21-2015 12:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Why the need for a payload fairing on the X-37B?

Jim Behling
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posted 05-21-2015 10:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jim Behling   Click Here to Email Jim Behling     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Winged vehicles put asymmetrical loads into the booster.

gliderpilotuk
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posted 05-22-2015 09:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for gliderpilotuk   Click Here to Email gliderpilotuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Quote borrowed from Hannibal: "I will either find a way or make a way." In his case it was to cross the Alps by elephant.

In the case of the USAF, who knows?


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