The journey to space is still to this day the most difficult journey any person can take; breaking the surly bonds of Earth’s gravity, releasing ourselves from its grip is no small feat.
While the world looks on in wonder at NASA’s Orion launch system it is in fact at least two steps backwards from the space shuttle. The technology used by Orion to achieve the incredible journey to space is based on the work of Erik Von Braun and other geniuses from the 30’s. Sure the materials we use to make rockets have advanced and the technology has become far more reliable but it is still a technology that was born in the 30’s and represents zero advancement.
For the next generation launch vehicle you must look elsewhere. Look towards the end of a runway to the Skylon space plane, the real next generation space shuttle.
Continue reading The Skylon Hypersonic Space Plane, the Real Next Generation Shuttle…
After a mysterious 15 month, 469 day mission the X-37B space plane has returned. Touching down at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on a cold Saturday night the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) returned to Terra-firma.
When the X-37B was initially launched from Cape Canaveral atop an Atlas rocket the mission was intended to last only 9 months. Not that any information was available on the original mission objectives. When the mission was extended for an unknown period, 6 months as it turns out, the rumour mill started churning at an even faster rate.
There are currently two X-37B’s in testing, OTV-1 and OTV-2, usually one is in the workshop while the other is in orbit.
The X-37B was originally designed as a portable toolbox for the space shuttle, with the dimensions designed to allow it to fit snugly in the shuttles pay load bay. When the shuttle was retired the X-37B stepped up to the mark.
Continue reading Return of The Spy In The Sky, The X-37B Touches Down…
The X-37B, a Space Plane with many masters, a true multi-purpose platform jointly developed by NASA, Boeing, DARPA, the US Air Force and more widely the US Defense Department. Starting life as the Space Shuttle utility belt the X-37B has evolved to be one of the most flexible and economical space platforms in use today.
Dressed in its black and white tux – heat shield – this James Bond wanna-be has once again disappeared from view, in easy to spot low Earth orbit – 300km -. Off on another top secret mission, what tales will he tell his masters upon his return? Orbital tracking records indicate the X-37B has been off station since the 12th of January, 2012. This is the third such disappearance of an X-37B since orbital testing began in 2010.
The tale of the X-37 Program is filled with mystery and intrigue, pleasant surprises from unexpected potential. Starting life as a blue collar maintenance droid, refueling and repairing satellites, the X-37B has by far exceeded those original aspirations. Partly out of necessity, with the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program leaving a large gap in NASA’s launch capabilities, and partly due to the X-37Bs brilliant design it has risen to every challenge. It is now a true multi-mission autonomous space plane. A little mini space shuttle that just gets the job done. What is the X-37B? A high flying spy in the sky, next generation research tool, weapons platform or all of the above!?
Continue reading NASA X-37B Space Plane MIA. High Flying Spy In The Sky, Next Generation Research Tool or Weapons Platform?…