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…
And now for a little stimulation from the mental gymnasium. BB presents an interesting snippet on the Swiss solution for space junk. The Swiss in Space.
A Swiss team of scientist has initiated the CleanSpace One project. In a fit of obsessive compulsive cleaning the Swiss have had enough of everyone leaving their junk in low earth orbit and have taken it upon themselves to clean up our act. The Swiss Space Center at EPFL has indeed this week announced the their intentions. The CleanSpace One project has been initiated to develop and build the first installment of a family of satellites specially designed to clean up space debris.
“It has become essential to be aware of the existence of this debris and the risks that are run by its proliferation,” says Claude Nicollier, astronaut and EPFL professor. To move beyond mere rhetoric and take immediate action to get this stuff out of orbit, the Swiss Space Center at EPFL is launching CleanSpace One, a project to build the first prototype in a family of “de-orbiting” satellites.
Continue reading Swiss CleanSpace One, The Swiss Getting All OCD On Our Space Junk!…
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?…