Air Force Mystery Toy, The Sequel

Up and into orbit it goes, what it does, nobody knows. Although, the fact that it’s a military and not a civilian program should be a big clue.

2nd Boeing-built Orbital Test Vehicle X-37B Begins Flight

Boeing . . . today announced the successful launch of the second Boeing-built X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) for the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO). The OTV was launched on an Atlas V rocket into a low-Earth orbit today at 5:46 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral Launch Complex 41.

“History was made in December when the X-37B became the United States’ first unmanned vehicle to return from space and land on its own,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems. “The success of that mission validated this reusable and effective way to test new technologies in space and return them for examination.

“Today, we took another important step with the successful launch of the second OTV, enabling the RCO to further experiment with the vehicle and its ability to operate in low-Earth orbit,” Cooning continued. “Close teamwork between the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the United Launch Alliance Atlas team, and the 45th Space Wing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station made this launch a success.”

See also:
Space weaponry in focus as US Air Force launches mysterious X-37B robotic plane
Second Orbital Test Vehicle X-37B Begins Flight
Air Force X-37B space plane launched into orbit
Air Force launches unmanned spacecraft
X-37B, super-secret experimental Air Force space plane, launches into orbit
The Air Force’s X-37B space plane reaches orbit for the second time
Second x37b Super-Secret Mission Launched into Space
The X 37B: Unmanned ‘Classified’ Space Plane Launched – Why?
Secretive plane raises flags as it heads for orbit
U.S. ‘space plane’ in orbit
Secret space mission blasts off
Atlas V Rocket Roars Toward Space
Atlas 5 rocket rumbles into sunny sky
X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle
Boeing X-37
It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Mystery Toy!
The Mystery Toy Comes Home To Roost

Well, today’s Air Force launch certainly went better than Thursday’s NASA launch.

/and that’s all you’ll hear about the X-37B until it comes back down to Earth sometime in the next nine months

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Going Nowhere Not So Fast

I think the old girl is trying to tell NASA something, she doesn’t want to fly.

Space shuttle Discovery’s mission delayed again

Space shuttle Discovery’s final flight keeps getting delayed.

The space station delivery mission is now off until the end of February. NASA had been aiming for an early February liftoff, but managers decided Thursday to take more time to complete repairs to Discovery’s external fuel tank.

Following a failed launch attempt in early November, cracks were found in metal struts of the massive tank. More cracks were discovered last week, after the shuttle was returned to its hangar. NASA is considering reinforcing all 108 struts on the central part of the tank for extra safety, NASA spokesman Allard Beutel said Friday.

The initial cracks were so big that the insulating foam on top of the damaged struts, or so-called stringers, split open. That’s NASA’s main concern: Cracking could cause foam to break away during liftoff and slam into Discovery. Columbia ended up being destroyed in 2003 after a slab of foam gouged a wing.

See also:
Discovery To Miss Early February Launch
Repairs Delay Discovery Launch as Shuttle Program Winds Down
Shuttle Discovery’s launch delayed for further repairs
US Shuttle Launch Delayed Again
Safety probe delays space shuttle launch until late February
NASA Pushes Space Shuttle Discovery Launch to Late February
NASA Rules Out Early February Launch for Discovery
Fuel tank woes delay space shuttle launch again
More delay for space shuttle Discovery launch
Shuttle Discovery’s launch postponed
Discovery launch delayed
Space Shuttle Discovery
Space Shuttle Discovery
STS-133 Mission Information
STS-133

Discovery is more than 25 years old and even when these space shuttles are in perfect shape they’re the most inherently unsafe manned spacecraft the U.S. has ever flown. Personally, I say pull the plug now, Discovery belongs in a museum, not on a launch pad. She obviously doesn’t want to fly, why tempt fate?

/is it really worth risking another shuttle crew to deliver some equipment to a space station that’s probably going to be abandoned within ten years anyway?

The Ultimate Estes Rocket Takes Off

Straight from the pages of the Estes catalog, the dreams of generations of kids have been realized and private sector orbital flight has been achieved. Their video feed capability leaves a bit to be desired though.

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 private rocket is a success

The Falcon 9, the first of a new generation of private rockets that could one day make space travel commonplace, successfully launched from Cape Canaveral on Friday.

The 180-foot rocket put a model of its Dragon capsule into orbit about 160 miles up, setting the stage for possible flights to the international space station early next year. The flight came after an initial abort right at ignition.

The launch gives a major boost to the rocket’s builder, SpaceX, and its Internet-tycoon founder, Elon Musk. But the launch was almost as important to the Obama administration, which has proposed a far greater role for commercial space companies in the future of NASA.

After Friday’s successful test launch — unusual for a maiden voyage — SpaceX plans to send a fully operational rocket and capsule into orbit this summer, and one to the space station next year.

See also:
Falcon 9 rockets into space in dramatic maiden flight
SpaceX Rocket Achieves Earth Orbit on First Flight
SpaceX Falcon 9 achieves orbit on maiden flight
Falcon 9, world’s first private rocket launched
Obama Space Plan ‘Vindicated’ by Private Rocket Launch, Builder Says
SpaceX fans and foes speak out
Spirialing ‘UFO’ Over Australia Was Likely Falcon 9 Rocket
SpaceX – Falcon
Falcon 9

/well hey, it’s not the Saturn V, but if it can save us from having to rely on hitching space rides with the Russians, bring it on

32nd Time’s A Charm?

So far, so good, Atlantis is less than twelve days, reentry, and a touchdown away from a well deserved retirement after two and a half decades of service.

Shuttle Atlantis streaks into orbit on final planned flight

The shuttle Atlantis blasted off on its 32nd and final planned mission Friday, closing out 25 years of service with a 12-day flight to deliver a Russian docking module and critical spare parts to the International Space Station.

With its three hydrogen-fueled main engines roaring at full thrust, the shuttle’s twin solid-fuel boosters ignited on time at 2:20 p.m. EDT, instantly pushing the fully fueled 4.5-million-pound spacecraft away from pad 39A.

Accelerating through 100 mph–straight up–in just eight seconds, Atlantis wheeled about its long axis and lined up on a trajectory paralleling the East Coast. Liftoff was timed for roughly the moment Earth’s rotation carried the launch pad into the plane of the space station’s orbit, the first step in a two-day rendezvous procedure.

Atlantis quickly arced away to the northeast, putting on a spectacular afternoon sky show for area residents and tourists who gathered along Florida’s “Space Coast” to witness the shuttle’s final planned flight.

Commander Kenneth Ham, pilot Dominic Antonelli, and flight engineer Michael Good monitored the shuttle’s computer-controlled ascent, joined by Stephen Bowen, a former submariner, Piers Sellers, and Garrett Reisman, who spent three months aboard the space station in 2008.

“We’re going to take her on her 32nd flight and if you don’t mind, we’ll take her out of the barn and make a few more laps around the planet,” Ham radioed launch director Mike Leinbach a few minutes before takeoff.

The shuttle’s ascent appeared normal with no obvious impacts from external tank foam insulation. Video from a camera mounted on the side of the tank showed a few bits of insulation separating and falling away, but by that point the shuttle was out of the dense lower atmosphere where debris impacts pose a more significant threat.

See also:
Space shuttle Atlantis soars on final voyage
Space Shuttle Atlantis Blasts Off on Final Mission
Shuttle Atlantis Lifts Off for Final Planned Flight
Shuttle Atlantis launches on its last mission
Space shuttle Atlantis soars on final voyage
Space Shuttle Atlantis: A View from the Launch
View of Atlantis launch from over 22,000 miles up
No rookies allowed on Atlantis’ last flight‎
Space Shuttle Atlantis: 25 years of service
STS-132 Begins On-Orbit Operations
STS-132 Mission Information
STS-132
Atlantis
Atlantis (OV-104)
Space Shuttle Atlantis

Godspeed Atlantis, perform your last mission flawlessly and bring your crew home safely.

/and then there will be only two shuttle flights remaining before the United States manned spaceflight program is grounded indefinitely on Obama’s orders

Obama Adds Astronauts To The No Fly List

No Shuttle plus no Constellation program equals U.S. manned space flight grounded.

White House won’t fund NASA moon program

NASA’s plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there, if President Obama gets his way.

When the White House releases its budget proposal Monday, there will be no money for the Constellation program that was to return humans to the moon by 2020. The Ares I rocket that was to replace the space shuttle to ferry humans to space will be gone, along with money for the Ares V cargo rocket that was to launch the fuel and supplies needed to return to the moon. There will be no lunar landers, no moon bases.

“We certainly don’t need to go back to the moon,” one administration official said.

Instead, according to White House insiders, agency officials, industry executives and congressional sources familiar with Obama’s plans, NASA will look at developing a “heavy-lift” rocket that one day will take humans and robots to explore beyond low-Earth orbit. That day will be years away.

The White House will direct NASA to concentrate on Earth-science projects — principally, researching and monitoring climate change — and on a new technology research and development program designed to someday enable human exploration of asteroids and the inner solar system.

See also:
Obama aims to ax moon mission
Obama to End NASA Constellation Program
US plan to return to moon ‘is dead’: administration advisor
White House killing NASA’s moon mission, reports say
President Obama to Propose Abandoning NASA’s Moon Plan
Obama to suggest end of NASA moon program
Speculation about NASA’s future swirls in advance of Obama’s budget request
Battle brewing over Obama’s NASA plan
NASA Workers Anxious About Obama’s Commitment to Space
Rebel Engineers Sit With NASA to Chart Future of Manned Space
Good Night Moon
Obama Says, No Moon For You!

To put things in perspective, Obama and the Democrats are now talking about wasting another $80-200 billion on another unnecessary, worthless “stimulus” after already wasting $1 trillion on the first worthless “stimulus”. Just yesterday, Obama announced that he was passing out $8 billion for unprofitable choo choo trains!

NASA’s annual budget is less than $20 billion, yet these out of control, tax and spend peons can’t dig in our taxpayer pockets for a few measly billion dollars more to fund something worthwhile, U.S. manned space flight. I guess they can’t figure out how funding space exploration translates into buying Democrat votes.

/the moral of this story is, if any of your children are dreaming of growing up to be an astronaut, they’d better learn how to speak Chinese and/or Russian