Secret In The Sky

Round and round the Earth it goes, who or what it’s spying on very few people know.

Delta 4 rocket successfully lofts surveillance satellite

A Delta 4 rocket made a thunderous departure from California on Tuesday afternoon, only to slip into a news blackout minutes later while it climbed higher and faster to deploy a classified spy satellite, a success-defining milestone that was confirmed by hobbyist observers.

The United Launch Alliance-made booster roared away from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:12:57 p.m. local (7:12:57 p.m. EDT; 2312:57 GMT) on a southwesterly course to reach a retrograde orbit inclined 123 degrees relative to the equator.

. . .

The hush-hush nature for the rest of flight is all part of launching covert payloads for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, the secretive agency that operates the country’s fleet of spy satellites. The NRO does not disclose the purpose of its spacecraft being sent up on each launch, saying only that the flight was called the NROL-25 mission.

See also:
Rocket Launches Secret Spy Satellite for US Military
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
United Launch Alliance Delta IV Rocket Successfully Launches Payload for the National Reconnaissance Office
US launches new spy satellite NROL-25
Delta 4 lifts off
Spy satellite-carrying rocket blasts off
U.S. rocket carrying classified payload launches
ULA Successfully Launches Delta IV Rocket
Rocket carrying classified payload launches from California’s central coast
Rocket launch includes key parts from Utah’s ATK sites
List of NRO Launches
National Reconnaissance OfficeNational Reconnaissance Office

According to the listed launch designation, NROL-25 is a radar imaging satellite operating in a retrograde low Earth orbit.

/if I had to guess what it’s looking at, I’d guess Iran

Delivering Death In 30 Minutes Or Less

Unlike the disastrous HTV-2 program, it looks like DoD got this one right.

US tests hypersonic weapon which can hit any target on earth in 30 mins

The US military successfully conducted the first test flight of the Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW) concept.

In a statement issued by the US Department of Defence, the AHW is a first-of-its-kind glide vehicle, designed to fly long range within the earth’s atmosphere at hypersonic speed.

The hypersonic flying missile travels five times the speed of sound and is rumoured to gain up to mach 20 speeds. More impressively, it can strike a target in any location on Earth in just 30 minutes.

See also:
U.S. Army tests hypersonic weapon that travels five times the speed of sound… and can hit ANY target on earth in 30mins
America tests new hypersonic missile
Hypersonic bomb: One-hour delivery?
U.S. missile hits its target 2,300 miles away at 5 times the speed of sound
Hypersonic weapon flies 2,400 miles at Mach 8 without crashing
US army test flies advanced hypersonic weapon
Space and Missile Defense Command tests hypersonic glider for possible use as conventional weapon
Army Successfully Tests Hypersonic Missile
Hypersonic weapon tested by US Army
When you absolutely have to get there fast (and bomb something)
Matt Gurney: Even when broke, America can find cool ways to kill you
Advanced Hypersonic Weapon (AHW)

The problem with a lot of high value targets (HVTs) is the time gap between pinpointing their location and the ability to bring ordinance to bear. Hypersonic, kinetic kill vehicles would narrow that gap considerably, minimizing the chances that the target could move and escape before it can be hit.

/fewer lost opportunities, more dead evil doers

Two Up, Two Down

This is the second failed flight for the HTV-2, at $160 million per splash.

DARPA issues statement on failed flight of hypersonic aircraft

The Falcon launched at 7:45 a.m. from Vandenberg Air Force Base, northwest of Santa Barbara, into the upper reaches of Earth’s atmosphere aboard an eight-story Minotaur IV rocket, made by Orbital Sciences Corp.

After reaching an undisclosed sub-orbital altitude, the aircraft jettisoned from its protective cover atop the rocket, then nose-dived back toward Earth, leveled out and began to glide above the Pacific at 20 times the speed of sound, or Mach 20.

Then the trouble began.

“Here’s what we know,” said Air Force Maj. Chris Schulz, DARPA’s program manager. “We know how to boost the aircraft to near space. We know how to insert the aircraft into atmospheric hypersonic flight. We do not yet know how to achieve the desired control during the aerodynamic phase of flight. It’s vexing; I’m confident there is a solution. We have to find it.”

See also:
Pentagon’s hypersonic flight test cut short by anomaly
Pentagon’s Mach 20 Missile Lost Over Pacific — Again
DARPA drops another HTV-2
Second Flop: DARPA Loses Contact With HTV-2
DARPA Launches and Loses Hypersonic Aircraft: Update
The Air Force Loses a Second Superfast Spaceplane
Falcon HTV-2 is lost during bid to become fastest ever plane
Falcon hypersonic vehicle test flight fails
Review Board Sets Up to Probe HTV-2 L
DARPA loses contact with hypersonic aircraft
Lost at sea. Military loses contact with hypersonic test plane
Misdirection, Always Watch What The Left Hand Is Doing

So, in order to find out what went wrong, the Air Force needs to find this tiny HTV-2 drone, that they lost contact with, somewhere in the vast Pacific ocean. Good luck with that, they never lost the first one the dunked.

/why do I get the feeling there’s not going to be a third time?

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

Christmas Fail

India’s space program gets a lump of coal in their Christmas stocking.

Indian Rocket Explodes Seconds After Liftoff

An Indian space rocket carrying an advanced communications satellite exploded in smoke and fire just seconds after lifting off from a launch pad at the Sriharikota space center in Andhra Pradesh state, about 50 miles from the city of Chennai.

The Christmas Day launch of the satellite had originally been planned for December 20, but was delayed after engineers discovered a leak in one of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (GSLV) engines, the United News of India reported.

The GSLV was carrying a GSAT-5P communication satellite into orbit when it strayed from its planned flight path, and was deliberately blown up by mission control 47 seconds after liftoff, according to state-owned Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan.

Radhakrishnan said the GSLV developed an error shortly after takeoff, and then lost command, resulting in a higher angle in the flight.

“That caused a higher stress, breaking up the vehicle,” he said.

The GSLV exploded “at an altitude of 4.9 miles (8 km) and the debris have fallen in deep sea,” Radhakrishnan said.

See also:
Indian space rocket explodes soon after launchIndian rocket explodes after take-off
Indian rocket explodes on launch
Satellite-Carrying Indian Rocket Explodes After Launch
Unmanned Indian rocket explodes
GSAT-5P, GSLV-F06 were not insured
ISRO teams analysing data to pinpoint GSLV failure
Heavier payload caused Indian rocket’s failure: Expert
Disaster leaves Isro with 1 cryo engine
GSLV failures fuel disappointment and anxiety
GSLV failure sparks safety fears for 2016 manned space flight

Apparently, this isn’t the first time this particular type of rocket has failed.

/India might want to rethink their plans to use these rockets for manned flights