Thursday, June 23, 2011

Meet the x37B, the Air Forces Unmanned Space Vehicle

Cape Canaveral, Fla.- The U.S. Air Force's robotic X-37B mini-shuttle "space plane" launched on its classified second mission Saturday March 5, 2011 at 5:46PM (2246 GMT). The unmanned X-37B lifted off from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas 5 rocket.

This is the second X-37B spacecraft built for the Air Force by Boeing's Space and Intelligence Systems division, and carries the name Orbital Test Vehicle 2, or OTV-2. The X37B OTV2 is capable of vastly extended orbital missions due to its solar array power system, which allows it to stay in orbit for up to 270 days

The first X-37B spacecraft launched in April 2010 and returned to Earth in December after an apparently successful test flight, though the details of that mission and that of the OTV2 – are classified. The first X-37B mission lasted 225 days. (Mike Wall,

X-37B (shown here in an illustration) is an unmanned, autonomous military space plane, capable of extended orbital missions followed by auto-touchdowns.

With its blunt nose and stubby wings, the Boeing spacecraft somewhat resembles the 40 year old NASA space shuttle, miniaturized and updated.
This graphic takes a look inside the X-37B space plane and its Atlas 5 rocket.

  But that's where the similarity ends.

The X37b is much smaller. Roughly 29 feet (almost 9 meters) long and 14 feet wide (nearly 4.5 meters). The single vertical stabilizer of the space shuttle has been replaced by two advanced "ruddervators" and the elongated fuselage sports a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed.

Designed to launch either vertically inside the nose cone of a rocket, or horizontally from a "white knight" aircraft launch platform [similar to Sir Richard Bransom's Virgin Galactic], the X37B can remain in orbit for extended periods, and then land horizontally on a runway, like its predecessor. (continued after photo)

Undated X37B runway photo, (Courtesy USAF)
Unlike the NASA space shuttle, however, the X37B has no human flight crew. According to a pre-launch statement issued by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, those "mundane" duties are now carried out autonomously by "Artificial Intelligence", without aid, assistance, or need of a human pilot.

"There is no one on the ground with a joystick flying it."- Lt. Colonel Troy Giese,  X37B Project Manager, AFRCO

Yes boys and girls, you read me right: "AI." (Sky Net, here we come...)

The X37B began life as a civilian project

A crew of vehicle handlers clad in suits to protect against hazardous materials like any "remaining rocket fuel" approach the X-37B robot space plane after its successful Dec. 3d. landing at Vandenberg AFB in California.
It was used as an experimental "test bed" for NASA in 1999, and continued in service of the space agency until project control shifted to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in 2004 when the NASA funding ran dry. After two years with DARPA at the helm, they ultimately passed control to the USAF in 2006.
The Air Force "Rapid Capabilities Office" currently oversees the X-37B space plane program, and offers little explanation as to why the former civilian project is now shrouded in secrecy.

So, what exactly does it DO?

Recovery crews take measurements and other readings after its Dec. 3 landing at Vandenberg. The X-37B's unique V-shaped "ruddervators" — which serve as its tail stabilizers — are visible as well as a deployed air brake.
Air Force officials have not said much about first X-37B mission, and they're been similarly tight-lipped about the second flight with the OTV-2 vehicle.
What the Air Force has said, is that the X-37B spacecraft "should help the Air Force test and demonstrate new 'technologies' — such as guidance, navigation, and control systems — that could be used on future satellites."

The secrecy surrounding the X-37B has led to extensive speculation that the plane could be a 'space weapon' of some sort, though Air Force officials have repeatedly denied that charge.  Some "experts" have postulated that it is a platform for 'space reconnaissance'.

X-37B space plane is seen in profile as post-landing work continues. The logos of Boeing and USAF are visible on the reusable spacecraft's hull. The payload bay can hold experiments and small satellites in addition to its solar array panel that it uses for long term, sustained power.
Photos released by the Air Force, show post-flight ground operations being conducted by 2 person crews working in high level "Hazardous Material" containment suits. Although attempts to explain this away as a precaution taken to protect against any remaining "rocket fuel"; the presence of the NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) suits only manages to increase speculation regarding the X37B's classified military purpose, and seems to run afoul to the 'space reconnaissance platform' hypothesis.

Could this be the beginning of the weaponization of space that Wernher von Braun warned us against?

It does indeed seem to have the 'requisite' curriculum vitae. It is a DoD (Department of Defense) project after all, and it appears to require more than your average, run of the mill ground crew to handle ground work, data retrieval and electronic "debriefing".

One HAS to wonder, where indeed has it been, that requires ground crews to wear "Nuclear-Biological-Chemical" suits post flight?

Has the X37B retrieved nuclear material from a defective satellite?

Do we have 'enemies' in space that 'we, the people' do not know about? (Intergalactic alien "Al-Queda" maybe?)

Has it been in contact with "Little Green Men" in flying saucers?

Or, has it been "hangin ten"& 'surfing' the Van Allen Radiation belt?

Chances are that we may never know, but it sure is something to think about. The Air Force says it should help "demonstrate new technologies", but "just to be cautious" they wear NBC suits to examine it when it returns from its classified mission.

I'll just leave the rest to you, my readers. Consider this the beginning of your journey to enlightenment. I formally challenge you to...THINK.

Question everything...The information I have presented to you in this article, and what you uncover on your own.


Form your own opinion, Think for yourself. Free yourself-

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