Wednesday, February 24

GMCstream: U.S. Air Force TOP Secret X-37B stationed at 30th Space Wing

GMCstream: U.S. Air Force TOP Secret X-37B stationed at 30th Space Wing

at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

The USAF X-37B spacecraft spent nearly two years circling Earth on a classified mission. Like the Space Shuttle it is designed with a cargo bay that can release satellites, capture the satellites of other nations or closely monitor the PRC’s space lab. The X-37B can stay in orbit or change orbits. The concept of the X-37B was first released in 1999 and utilized in several Federal Agencies speculated to be the NRO, NSA, NASA, and now under the Air Force’s Rapid Capabilities Office.

The X-37b, built by Boeing Space & Intelligence Systems, completed a 469-day mission. Designed to launch like a satellite and land like an airplane, the OTV-2 holds the record for the longest mission of a reusable space vehicle. Previously, the longest Space Shuttle mission was made by Columbia in 17 days, 15 hours. Discovery flew the most missions at 39, with an accumulated total of 365 days on orbit. OTV-2 has exceeded both by flying 469 days.

Boeing stated that “the vehicle was built using lighter composite structures, rather than traditional aluminum. A new generation of high-temperature wing leading-edge tiles will also debut on the X-37B. These toughened uni-piece ceramic tiles replace the carbon carbon wing leading edge segments on the Space Shuttle. The X-37B also uses toughened uni-piece silica tiles, which are significantly more durable than the first generation tiles used by the Space Shuttle. The X-37B was also the first to use advanced conformal reusable insulation (CRI) blankets. All avionics on the X-37B are designed to automate all de-orbit and landing functions. Additionally, there is no hydraulics onboard the X-37B; flight controls and brakes use electromechanical actuation.”

According to the USAF, “the X-37B is one of two built by Boeing. This is the program’s third mission, which began in December 2012. The X-37B stands 9 1/2 feet tall and is just over 29 feet long, with a wingspan less than 15 feet. It weighs 11,000 pounds and has solar panels that unfurl to charge its batteries once in orbit. In 2015, the U.S. Air Force said it plans to launch the fourth X-37B mission from Cape Canaveral, Florida… The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle, or OTV, is an experimental test program to demonstrate technologies for a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force. The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America’s future in space and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth.”