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Space United States Science

X-37B Secret Space Plane To Land Soon 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-secret-enough dept.
Phoghat writes "The highly classified X-37B Space Plane is scheduled to land soon. It was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida on April 22 atop an Atlas 5 rocket, and the Air Force is still being very secretive on all aspects of the flight. We do know that it's set to touch down at Vandenberg Air Force Base's 15,000-foot runway, originally built for the Space Shuttle program. In many ways, the craft resembles a Shuttle with stubby wings, landing gear and a powerful engine that allows the craft to alter its orbit (much to the dismay of many observers on the ground). Its success has apparently given new life to its predecessor, the X-34, which had been mothballed."
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X-37B Secret Space Plane To Land Soon

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  • Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aerorae (1941752) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @05:57PM (#34360282)
    Highly classified spaceship carrying highly classified cargo returns to earth semi-unclassifiedly. Slow news day on /.
  • by khallow (566160) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:27PM (#34360512)

    That somebody will explain how our superiority in the highly competitive black-ops space-plane carrying mystery cargo arena will eventually be converted into a solution for the fact that we can't seem to fight a ground war against a 14th century tribal rabble armed with 1950's eastern bloc shit without getting our stuff blown up all the time...

    You might find this surprising, but most military powers find it difficult to fight wars without getting their stuff blown up all the time. I think it has something to do with the presence of a "foe".

  • by mangu (126918) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:29PM (#34360520)

    I suspect it would still be cheaper to design the satellites for a shorter life span and keep launching them into different orbits.

    The cost of launching a satellite is in the tens of millions of dollars range.

    Satellites are made to have longer and longer lifespans as technology evolves, because the higher cost of a more sophisticated satellite is easily compensated by needing less of those costly launch missions.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:45PM (#34360620)

    I suspect it would still be cheaper to design the satellites for a shorter life span and keep launching them into different orbits.

    Consider the advantage of maneuverability in a hostile (as in being shot at) environment, or in a situation where the geographical points of interest keep changing, or changing the time required to orbit so that someone on the ground can not predict an overflight very easily. The X-37 may carry more fuel, or have engines offering greater delta-v, than a satellite.

  • Re:Offensive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tomhudson (43916) <.barbara.hudson. ... bara-hudson.com.> on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:49PM (#34360662) Journal

    which part of you got offended the most? The 49 yo, the grandmother, the feminist or the c programmer? I'm thinkin 20 years of programming is going to make anyone a bit touchy.

    I would suspect it's the "49 years old" ... no woman likes to admit they're about to hit the big 5-0, and many of us stay 39 years old well into our 50s just like most guys suddenly have a second childhood, complete with sports car and 20-something girlfriend, around that age. Neither sex is immune to denial :-)

    It can't be the 20 years of c programming, because I'm in the same situation - you generally don't stay a coder that long unless you enjoy it.

    And it certainly shouldn't be feminists, because feminists nowadays recognize that we don't all have to be pant-suit-wearing, bra-burning, man-hating asexual clones.

    And it can't be the "grandmother" thing ... unless you're granny and you re afraid that your relatives want to stick granny into one of these and fire you into orbit for 9 months without life support. We all probably have one relative who, in our darker moments, we like to imagine might "benefit" from such treatment, but we don't REALLY wish that on anyone.

    No, I'd guess it's the age thing.

    -- Barbie

  • by AJWM (19027) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @06:50PM (#34360672) Homepage

    we can't seem to fight a ground war against a 14th century tribal rabble armed with 1950's eastern bloc shit without getting our stuff blown up all the time...

    Because for some reason we insist on not using 14th century tactics, which would be roughly "kill them all, God will know his own" (actually, 13th century). If we didn't care about non-combatant casualties it'd be over in a week.

  • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:20PM (#34360878) Journal
    You missed the bit where they said:

    "highly classified...scheduled to land soon...very secretive on all aspects of the flight...set to touch down at Vandenberg ...powerful engine that allows the craft to alter its orbit (much to the dismay of many observers on the ground)."

    See what they did there? Oh man, this place is better than The Onion sometimes. And yes, an engine capable of orbital changes is easily capable of landing in northern Scotland instead of Vandenberg.
  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:23PM (#34360900)

    We could win a war against Afghanistan without putting one person on the group. We could bomb a country like that until not a structure stayed standing and the few who lived would be reduced to living in caves and living off of grass

    And they would still be trying to kill you whenever they could.

    We somehow today equate winning a war with winning over the people and making them love us.

    I thought you invaded Afghanistan to capture bin Laden, and bring democracy and human rights to the people there? Or is this one of those 'we had to kill the people in order to save them' things?

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:25PM (#34360912)

    everyone in the UN already agreed to not weaponize space. america would have hell to pay to the rest of the world if they ever found out.

    I'm sure the American government would be just _SO_ scared that the UN might get a bit upset with them.

  • by guyminuslife (1349809) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:31PM (#34360942)

    We somehow today equate winning a war with winning over the people and making them love us.

    Well, isn't that the point? I mean, why are we in Afghanistan? Because many of the people there hated us and blew up some buildings. So we decided to kill a bunch of the people who hate us and leave only the people who love us, and make them love us more because we've invaded their country.

    (I have to admit, it does sound pretty stupid when you put it like that.)

  • by jjohnson (62583) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @07:44PM (#34361006) Homepage

    Explain the Soviet Union's sojourn in the deserts of Afghanistan, then. They didn't seem to have a problem with civilian casualties.

    The answer to the grandparent is that military force can't create a particular civil society. It can sure as fuck destroy a particular civil society, but getting the populace to actually vote the way you want them to isn't easily done by bayonet, unless the bayonet is right there, pointing at them.

  • by 19061969 (939279) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @08:50PM (#34361382)

    Except the British in (what was then) Malaya managed it against a force of communist insurgents and they didn't have 4 x the population of the country. Malaysia (as it is now) is now one of the most developed, peaceful and stable Asian countries - a testament to so many people there striving hard for peace. Other advantages: a reasonably respected 'prime minister' and population who bought into the idea that independence had to wait (over a decade) until the insurgents were defeated and potential communist recruits / supporters being looked after instead of massacred (with one possible exception).

    Proviso: I say British, but the force that countered the insurgents was composed of Malayans, British, Gurkhas, Indians, New Zealanders and Fijians (possibly others too). The UK masterminded most of the plan. In case any reader is curious, the method was to consider it a police action - ie, really led by police intelligence working with civilians. The military was brought in only when killing was going to happen.

    It's worth reading about as it's one of the few times that insurgents have been soundly defeated and a stable country left behind once the military have left.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday November 27, 2010 @10:51PM (#34361932) Homepage Journal

    So the broke-ass, deficit-obsessed USA cannot afford to keep the Space Shuttle or any other NASA launch programme in operation for science, but no problem funding an even better shuttle for the CIA/NSA. Because those spooks are doing such a great job protecting us from the Qaeda and copycats, protecting our allies from N Korean bombing, protecting the world from Iranian nuke programmes...

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