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

The Mystery Toy Comes Home To Roost

The X-37B and it’s seven month mission are so secretive, not even Julian Assange knows what the hell it’s all about.

Secretive X-37B robot space plane returns to Earth

After seven months in space, the U.S. Air Force’s secretive X-37B unmanned space plane returned to Earth today to wrap up a debut flight shrouded in secrecy.

The robotic X-37B space plane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to end its maiden voyage. The space plane, also known as Orbital Test Vehicle 1, glided back to Earth over the Pacific Ocean before landing at the revamped Vandenberg runway at about 1:16 a.m. PST (0916 GMT) Dec. 3.

“Today’s landing culminates a successful mission based on close teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office,” said Lt Col Troy Giese, X-37B program manager from the AFRCO, which oversaw the mission. “We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission.”

See also:
Secret Space Plane Finally Lands; Twin Preps for Launch
A successful mission, but Air Force won’t say more
Air Force’s Secret Space Plane Lands In California
X-37B, which officially was not on a secret unmanned mission, returns from secret, unmanned mission
Secret X-37B Mini Space Shuttle Lands
US military spacecraft back on ground after 7 months
Unmanned X-37B spacecraft lands at VAFB
Unmanned X-37B Spacecraft Returns to Earth
X 37b Mini Space Shuttle Lands Safely
It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Mystery Toy!

Gee, I’m curious, I sure wish I knew what the X 37b program was all about. Acknowledging the existence of the program while keeping its purpose a secret is tantamount to teasing.

/where’s WikiLeaks when you really need them?

Misdirection, Always Watch What The Left Hand Is Doing

While everyone was busy watching the classified launch of the X-37B in Florida, the Air Force was up to even more classified hijinxs in Califiornia.

New Minotaur rocket launches on suborbital flight

A new Minotaur launch vehicle derived from retired missile parts successfully blasted off from the California coast Thursday, but officials lost contact with a hypersonic glider testbed for a U.S. military quick-response global strike system.

The Minotaur 4 booster, flying in a downsized three-stage configuration, launched on a suborbital mission at 4 p.m. local time (7 p.m. EDT; 2300 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 8 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

The three-stage version of the launcher uses retired Peacekeeper missile motors. The configuration is called the Minotaur 4 Lite.

A small winged glider designed by Pentagon researchers was the payload for Thursday’s launch. The craft, called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2a, apparently did not complete all of its planned maneuvers to demonstrate new hypersonic flight systems.

“Preliminary review of technical data indicates the Minotaur Lite launch system successfully delivered the Falcon HTV 2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a statement. “The launch vehicle executed first of its kind energy management maneuvers, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV 2 deployment.”

See also:
Air Force launches hypersonic glider over Pacific
DARPA confirms mission’s failure
U.S. Air Force launches back-to-back secret missions – coincidence?
Unmanned military space planes usher in new weaponry era
Hyperfast missile to hit anywhere in an hour
A weapon that can strike anywhere on Earth in 30 minutes
5 Ways to Kill Osama Bin Laden in 2 Hours or Less
DARPA’s Mach 20 Hypersonic Glider and Air Force’s X-37B Space Plane Make Their Debuts
First Minotaur IV launches with Hypersonic Test Vehicle
Obama administration spending billions on new global strike weapons
US moving towards ‘high-altitude’ weaponry era with Falcon, X-37B launches
DARPA Falcon HTV-2: Frequently Asked Questions

Taking the high ground with space weapons.

/hmmm, a Mach 20 glider, payloads anywhere on earth within an hour and there’s nothing you can do about it

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s A Mystery Toy!

Air Force’s Mystery X-37B Space Plane Fuels Speculation

The U.S. Air Force is on the verge of showcasing a new and long-sought after spaceflight capacity with its X-37B space plane, but it will do so on a space mission that’s cloaked in secrecy.

What the X-37B mission truly portends is in the eye of the beholder, from a game-changing tool to hone military hardware to a provocative harbinger of things-to-come in terms of space warfare.

Now ready for an Atlas boost into Earth orbit from Florida on April 20, the reusable robotic X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) is a small space shuttle-like craft. The craft will wing its way into Earth orbit, remain aloft for an unspecified time, then high-tail its way back down to terra-firma – auto-piloting down to a landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, or at neighboring Edwards Air Force Base as back-up [more photos of the X-37B space plane].

The X37-B craft was built by Boeing’s Phantom Works with the mission run under the wing of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office. The reusable and diminutive OTV space plane is the first vehicle since the space shuttle orbiter able to return experiments to Earth for further inspection and analysis.

Its stats are modest: The vehicle tips the scales at 11,000 pounds (4,989 kg) and is just over 29 feet (8.8 meters) in length and stands slightly more than 9 1/2 feet (2.9 meters) in height. It sports a wingspan of a little over 14 feet (4.2 meters).

The designed maximum on-orbit duration for the X-37B is 270 days, said Angie Blair, an Air Force spokeswoman for the project, but that flight time will be driven more by success in achieving demonstration objectives.

“The X-37B is a risk reduction vehicle for space experimentation and to explore concepts of operation for a long duration, reusable space vehicle. The first flight will focus on vehicle checkout and test of subsystems such as thermal management, power control and distribution, and attitude control,” Blair said.

See also:
Space shuttle sequel slated for liftoff
Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane
Air Force prepping robot spacecraft for launch
U.S. Air Force X-37B Reusable Spacecraft to Launch Into Orbit Later This Month
Mystery Space Plane’s Mystery Mission Approaches
Air Force Space Plane to Launch After Long, Twisted Past
Air Force to Launch Robotic Space Shuttle, No One’s Really Sure Why
Boeing X-37
Boeing Phantom Works
Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office

Hmmm, I wonder what they’re up to with this? It’s too small to be of much practical use.

/hopefully we’ll find out before Obama cancels the program