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Space The Military Science Technology

It's Baaack! XB-37B Finally Lands 123

ColdWetDog writes "The US Air Force / DARPA 'baby shuttle,' the Boeing-built XB-37B has just landed after 469 days in orbit. No official explanation of why controllers kept the mission going past the original duration of 270 days other than 'because we could.' I, for one, welcome our long duration, unmanned orbital overlords."
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It's Baaack! XB-37B Finally Lands

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @12:35PM (#40344877)

    Same day the Chinese launch their most ambitious manned mission thusfar? Mmmkay.

  • Lets face it, it's just too expensive to keep puny humans alive in orbit, the advent of highly advanced space faring robotics will see the end of long endurance human spaceflight.

    20 years ago, I was all rah-rah for human spaceflight. Then I started reading more speculations of technological singularities and the integration of man and machine. I now see two futures as much more likely than manned spaceflight with life support systems as traditionally conceived.

    If wacky AI prophets like Kurzweil are right, the human race that expands to the stars and robotic unmanned exploration might be one and the same. If humans transcend biology, there is no longer a need for packing oxygen, radiation shielding and water into a spacecraft.

    Another possibility, proposed by Vernor Vinge in Marooned in Realtime [amazon.com] is that an intelligent race like ours might simply move into a virtual reality, populating and exploring that inner world of infinite possibilities instead of the cold, hard reality of outer space. Yeah, yeah, there's the possibilities of a catastrophic asteroid strike etc., but the human face is not especially adept at planning for the very longterm future, and simply moving towards the core of the planet might prove an attractive solution for the shorter term.

    Incidentally, the AC who also responded to you is a well-known troll (easily distinguished by his use of the term "space nutter"). While I agree with him that manned space exploration is not a likely future, his purpose here is more to mock and tear down than to contribute to meaningful discussion. Avoid his trap.

  • Re:man in space? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bevilr ( 1258638 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:06PM (#40345463)
    While the craft itself operates unmanned, it could be easily adapted for human cargo in a not so ridiculous way. In fact, 2 seconds of searching revealed the plan to used a modified (scaled up) version of this design to transport astronauts into space. http://www.space.com/13230-secretive-37b-space-plane-future-astronauts.html [space.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:12PM (#40345493)

    I'm glad to hear I'm well known. Sorry friend, but if you're behaving like a space nutter, I call it like I see it. Every time this type of article pops up, a bunch of naive idealists crowd in to tell us how stupid it is that we're not spending multiples of our GNP to send a handful of people to another planet to establish a colony, or mine iron ore from an asteroid, or some other foolishness that they claim (without justification) is "absolutely indispensable" to humanity's future.

    They take great joy in shouting down anybody who puts forth the rational (and quite likely) point that "manned space travel" is a dream, and barring a fundamental revolution in physics and our understanding of the universe, will always remain a dream. You want to explore the stars? Start launching robotic probes, because that's the only way any of us will ever learn what it's like in another solar system. And once those probes are launched, turn your vast intellect towards solving actual problems in the here and now on earth, because this is the only place we're gonna get.

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Saturday June 16, 2012 @02:19PM (#40345525) Homepage

    Although it's been proposed many times, nobody has ever put up a small, reusable manned spacecraft. The USAF had the DynaSoar program in the 1960s, but that was cancelled. Virgin Galactic is making noises about a small orbital spaceplane. Nothing like that has ever flown, but there's no fundamental obstacle.

    The near future of earth orbit space may be Space-X's Falcon Heavy for freight, something from Virgin Galactic for humans, and robotic vehicles for military tasks.

  • Kerbal Space Program (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 16, 2012 @03:12PM (#40345817)

    I've been addicted to building and launching my own multi-stage rockets into orbit (and beyond) in a Minecraft-esque (at least in business model) vidja game called Kerbal Space Program. They have an older version on their site that you can download for free so if you're interested Google it.

  • Re:An Explanation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Saturday June 16, 2012 @06:17PM (#40346967)

    Yeah, and drone missions over Iran continued unabated after the RQ-160 loss, why, then? Could it be that Iran didn't "spoof" anything, and it just made for a good propaganda win?

    (Hint: no, we didn't "quick patch" the "problem" — the aircraft simply malfunctioned and crashed in Iran. And you're buying Iranian propaganda hook, line, and sinker. Congratulations.)

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?