Quantcast

«

»

Jun 17 2012

Secret shuttle lands after secret mission

You didn’t know we had a secret space shuttle? I thought everyone knew! Well, this one is pretty small, and it’s unmanned. Which helps explain why it spent over a year in orbit:

Space Daily– There’s been some speculation that X-37B was spying on ground targets with cameras inside the payload bay. This is certainly possible, but it’s important to distinguish a camera test from an operational spying mission. We don’t even know for sure if spy cameras were inside the payload bay. This author believes that the parts under the hood were less exciting, and probably include mechanical hinges, batteries, insulation samples and electronic boards.

Such things are not very sexy, but they’re vital. Several NRO spy satellites have suffered untimely demises when parts inside them suddenly failed. Developing and testing quality satellite parts is probably the most critical challenge currently facing the NRO.

The X-37B offers a unique opportunity to fly these parts in space for lengthy periods, expose them to the rigours of orbit, and return them to Earth for analysis. Plus, the spacecraft is operated by the military, which can provide an appropriate level of secrecy for the mission.

Really? We don’t have enough surveillance capacity with our army of spy sats and drones and signal intel and pay offs and the whole bit? One of these days, if this madness ever ends, we’re gonna see just what kinds of nifty gizmos our trillions bought. I bet it’s more than a couple of spare hubble-like telescope.

9 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    leftwingfox

    One of these days, if this madness ever ends, we’re gonna see just what kinds of nifty gizmos our trillions bought. I bet it’s more than a couple of spare hubble-like telescope.

    And yet we still had 9/11 and continue to drone-strike civilians. Probably isn’t helping us much with North Korea’s massive underground tunnel complex either.

  2. 2
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    You didn’t know we had a secret space shuttle?

    Actually I did, althought calling the X-37* a “Space Shuttle” is a bit like calling a tow truck a road train! ;-)

    Good to hear its landed and seems to be a successful spaceplane. Cheers! Wonder when it’ll fly next and what it’ll be doing in future?

    ==================================================

    * See : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_X-37

  3. 3
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Oh & in case folks are unfamilar with the idea, not sure if they are, here’s the wiki-lik for road trains :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Road_train

  4. 4
    Reginald Selkirk

    You need to see the infrared video of the landing.
    .
    Also in the video, the side of the craft looks different, with some kind of structure above the wing where the Boeing logo should be.

  5. 5
    YankeeCynic

    Let’s be honest: military technology spending tends to provide a lot of technology that can be used later. Would we have had the ability to develop the Apollo Program without the need for more reliable ICBMs with greater throw-weight? Mould we have the Internet without the military’s need for redundant communications? How about computers without the need to crack German and Japanese encryption? The basic ideas and technology was out ere, but military necessity allowed for that technology to get the attention it needed.

  6. 6
    jufulu

    @4 Reginald Selkirk,
    There seems to be an air break that has been raised at the top of the craft between the two tails. Could that be what you are referring to?

  7. 7
    jufulu

    Er, that would be brake.

  8. 8
    Reginald Selkirk

    @ #5: No, not on top. What I’m looking at is a black panel or stripe along the side, above the wing. A friend took it for a row of windows, but I just don’t know. It is not present on the X37A (which appears to be the subject of DarkSyde’s image).

  9. 9
    Trebuchet

    I think you’re seeing some thermal protection for the hinge line for the cargo bay, as well as three hinges themselves.

Leave a Reply