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Space Transportation

Classified X-37B Space Plane Breaks Space Longevity Record 123

Posted by timothy
from the staying-power dept.
itwbennett (1594911) writes "A little-known U.S. space plane quietly broke its own space endurance record this week as its current unmanned mission surpassed 469 days in space. What it was doing up there for so long is a secret closely held by the Air Force, but Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an authority on satellites and launches, thinks it's serving a similar role as the space shuttle by carrying a science or intelligence payload. 'I believe it's testing some kind of experimental sensor for the National Reconnaissance Office; for example, a hyperspectral imager, or some new kind of signals intelligence package,' said McDowell. 'The sensor was more successful than expected, so the payload customer asked the X-37 folks to keep the spacecraft in orbit longer.'"
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Classified X-37B Space Plane Breaks Space Longevity Record

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  • Wait a moment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee (243626) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @03:15AM (#46608529)

    Space longevity record"

    Theres been (unmanned) stuff up in space for longer than a few years before, what record?

    How about those Voyagers now in (or not) interstellar space? Their missions have beem over 30 years and still going

  • by GuitarNeophyte (636993) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @03:20AM (#46608539) Homepage Journal

    Have you noticed that not too many years ago, Americans would hear about some neat new technical military thing and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's on OUR side!" And now, they just expect it to be used for domestic purposes.

  • Re:Wait a moment (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @03:23AM (#46608549)
    Its all about being able to land again in the future and then take off for another mission.
  • by BlueStrat (756137) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @05:39AM (#46608759)

    Have you noticed that not too many years ago, Americans would hear about some neat new technical military thing and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's on OUR side!" And now, they just expect it to be used for domestic purposes.

    And yet, many of these same people will attack you and call you all sorts of names if you dare suggest reducing the Federal government's size, power, & scope. They just seem incapable of connecting the growth of government size, power, and scope to the government abuses of their civil rights that they're becoming increasingly aware of.

    The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

    All governments get their power from the citizens. The more power the government has, the less power and protections from government abuse the individual citizen will have. All governments get their wealth from their citizens. The more wealth the government has/spends, the less wealth citizens will have or be able to borrow for homes, businesses, schooling, raising kids, giving to charities, etc.

    Strat

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @07:30AM (#46608905)

    The difference between now, and before snowden is simple. Before Snowden, the majority of the public thought the government and politicians were up to no good, and would bend the spirit of the law and constitution to suit their purposes. After Snowden we now know that the Government and politicians think their goals are just and righteous enough that they feel justified in just flat out ignoring the law and the constitution. That's an entirely different game.

  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:56AM (#46609295)

    That's a very simplistic view. And obviously flawed. It neglects to consider that the government gives as well as takes.

    It gives freedoms: Without those government-run police departments, what is there to stop someone stabbing me in the back and robbing me, or breaking into my home, or just murdering me over a petty dispute or because I offended them?

    It gives wealth: Reliably maintained roads, free or subsidised schooling and healthcare, welfare. True, it has to take the wealth first, but when done properly that means taking a fraction of the wealth from those who can spare it and giving to those who need it more.

    There are certainly examples of governments acting oppressively, and many of governments acting incompetantly or being over-influenced by special interests. But that doesn't automatically mean all government is bad. It's a matter of finding the right balance and setting up the right limits.

  • by Sentrion (964745) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:15AM (#46609381)

    The problem is that the powers that be know how to milk the cow from both ends. If you reduce the power of government then they just exercise more power and control via global corporatocracies. While on paper existing as separate organizations, what we have today in the US and many other parts of the world is a government-industrial oligarchy, with executives exerting influence on political leaders in ways that the average citizen cannot endeavor or even understand. Our anti-trust laws discourage companies from secretly colluding on price, but all the major competitors in any industry tend to be members of the same industry trade organizations that represent their interests to our legislators and to the general public with PR campaigns, which can be overt or subliminal. Even across non-competing entities, the boards of directors of public companies are occupied by CEOs of other Fortune 500 companies. When you look at who the bureaucrats are at our nation's most powerful offices, you often see a revolving door from industry to political office and back to industry again. The regulators have a vested interest in looking out for the top players in the industries they are supposed to regulate, as they will earn for themselves top executive roles as long as they don't ruffle any feathers during their political tenure. Our system of government is growing more toward feudalism or the guilds of Florence, where wealth and power is not obtained from individual effort (ie meritocracy) but through cronyism or gaming our legal/political system.

    For the global corporatocracy to succeed they do not need totalitarian authority, just a "controlling interest", a skill they mastered in the manner of which they control and profit the most from publicly listed companies while owning less than 50% of outstanding shares. In fact, by promoting the appearance of freedom and "unfettered" competition they exercise more control than an authoritarian regime, since totalitarianism comes with very high operating costs.

    Totalitarian regimes often face a united opposition. The cooperation of Western democracies with the Soviet Union against the Fascists of Europe is one example. The cooperation of Communists and Nationalists against French colonial rule in Indochina is another. After victory the alliance typically splinters, and the previously united parties usually return to their natural opposition to each other. Global corporatocracy makes use of totalitarianism where it exists, such as in Fascist China (along the trade coast, not to be confused with the communist agricultural peasant interior of China), but thrives where it can exert influence over seemingly oppositional political movements, such as with the Republican and Democrat parties of the United States. The majority of corporations that contribute to political campaigns tend to donate almost equally to candidates from both parties.

    For the most part there is no conspiracy. It is the natural product of the consolidation of mature industries where there is little or no government action to prevent companies from growing "too big to fail." Those who are successful at climbing the corporate ladder eventually discover how the game works, which is a system of reciprocity - quid pro quo, and spin doctoring.

    I consider corporatocracy to be a significant threat to democracy and freedom for individuals, especially harmful to those who have humble ambitions such as to raise a family, enjoy their privacy, reap the fruit of their own labor, and live healthy. What is needed is a balanced approach to limiting the power of "Big Government" while also limiting the power of global conglomerates. But if I had to live in a nation with a "Big Government" I would prefer a benevolent, people-friendly society like what is found in Scandinavia, not an equal-opportunity plantation where I might have a shot at retirement so long as I never get sick or if I'm promoted high enough up the scrotumpole to afford my in-network deductible.

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