mikegarrison

X-37B staying up for two years?

Recommended Posts

The current X-37 mission launched on Sept 7, 2017. That's 709 days ago. The previous mission lasted 717 days.

So in about a week, the current mission could become the longest so far. But if they wait about another month they can pass the two-year mark. I wonder if they will.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spoiler

A system log:
"709 days without incidents."
"718 or bust!"

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For that duration it's likely either a recon mission or some form of long duration exposure experiment. Potentially for weapon systems or some scientific development they've got under wraps. Either way- we'll hear about it in 2070 ish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spoiler
48 minutes ago, ZooNamedGames said:

we'll hear about it in 2070 ish.

Didn't you hear about the Great Atlantic Disaster of 2032 ?

Oops, forget it. It's okay.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read that they use the EDL capability to adjust their orbit, as well. Ie: burn at apogee to lower perigee slightly into atmosphere, use aero forces to alter orbit, burn at new apogee to raise perigee.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, tater said:

I read that they use the EDL capability to adjust their orbit, as well. Ie: burn at apogee to lower perigee slightly into atmosphere, use aero forces to alter orbit, burn at new apogee to raise perigee.

That is an interesting idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, Cheif Operations Director said:

That is an interesting idea.

Works in KSP ;)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Cheif Operations Director said:

I wonder if any emergencies could be salvaged in such a way

Once you get a vehicle capable of EDL from orbit, it seems like that opens all sorts of novel mechanics usually off limits for "pure" spacecraft (emphasis on the space part of spacecraft).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, tater said:

I read that they use the EDL capability to adjust their orbit, as well. Ie: burn at apogee to lower perigee slightly into atmosphere, use aero forces to alter orbit, burn at new apogee to raise perigee.

The Sec of Air Force said something to this effect, but observers have claimed that there is little evidence it has been done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That might be where I read it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, tater said:

I read that they use the EDL capability to adjust their orbit, as well. Ie: burn at apogee to lower perigee slightly into atmosphere, use aero forces to alter orbit, burn at new apogee to raise perigee.

So, definitely a combat ship. Recon/bomber, changing the inclination to pass above a random target. If it did it with engines, it would require tons of fuel.
Probably not an interceptor, as the orbit must be too low to have a target there.

Though, a small one, so can't spread gliding or ballistic warheads by this maneuver, unlike Buran or Shuttle probably could do / were purposed to.

Unlikely a carrier hunter, as not so much carriers for him to hunt.

So, either a recon, or an anti-submarine bomber. Probably the first, but maybe both.

P.S.
Still sure that highly likely has a warhead mockup onboard to study its degradation in orbit. Otherwise why stay there so long.

Edited by kerbiloid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Still sure that highly likely has a warhead mockup onboard to study its degradation in orbit. Otherwise why stay there so long.

Pretty sure you can test this with an ICBM. And it's probably been done or at least studied already.

My guess would be a satellite interceptor. If there's anything to intercept that would be spy sats. The plane has an arm so I can easily imagine using it to knock some sats around.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Wjolcz said:

Pretty sure you can test this with an ICBM.

ICBM doesn't spend years in LEO conditions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Iirc this spacecraft also has like 4.5km/s of Delta V so It could go around the moon if it wanted to.

It's not doing that but it would be cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

ICBM doesn't spend years in LEO conditions.

Because:

1. (AFAIK) Orbital ICBMs are banned.

2. They don't really need to.

I'm really not sure why anybody would test this kind of ICBM scenario.

5 hours ago, Ultimate Steve said:

Iirc this spacecraft also has like 4.5km/s of Delta V so It could go around the moon if it wanted to.

It's not doing that but it would be cool.

It's surprisingly a lot. Fueled by UDMH, IIRC?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Wjolcz said:

Because:

1. (AFAIK) Orbital ICBMs are banned.

2. They don't really need to.

I'm really not sure why anybody would test this kind of ICBM scenario.

I mean, if I was X-37B, I would have a disabled real warhead onboard to ensure it stays operational after years in LEO, because what if in future the treaties get gone.

***

I guess, 4.5 km/s it can have if fill its cargo bay with fuel instead of cargo, i.e. a theoretical upper limit.

Mass ratio for UDMH = exp(4.5 / 3.3) ~= 4:1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Wjolcz said:

Because:

1. (AFAIK) Orbital ICBMs are banned.

2. They don't really need to.

I'm really not sure why anybody would test this kind of ICBM scenario.

It's surprisingly a lot. Fueled by UDMH, IIRC?

Nuclear subs are better than orbital deployment. 
The Soviet nightmare was an US first strike with their very accurate Ohio's  from the arctic edging Russia, time this with stealth bombers. 
Yes obviously violating national borders doing an nuclear first strike, kind of make it illegal but who would you complain to :)

Most likely some long term exposure tests they want to keep secret.
Second is trolling seeing how well the shuttle trolled Soviet. Here is an large troll. 
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd assume the primary use is recon. A reusable vehicle can provide interesting options---iteration, for example. As a testbed, you fly novel recon tech, then you can land it, and tweak it, and try again. Of course if they were iterating, I would have expected shorter duration flights (because each flight is an  innovation opportunity).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm about 99% sure that the primary purpose of the X-37B flights is to troll the rest of the world.

What is the US doing? Why is it up there for so long but then comes back again? How long will it stay up there this time?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don’t think it’s just latched onto a spysat, and adjusting it’s orbit or extending its useful  life somehow?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I think that close encounters or even actual rendezvouses are plausible. If you had a spy sat and saw another one slowly approach it would you do anything? Running away is a waste of fuel since the X-37 has so much of it. Not only that, changing orbit by "running away" really messes with the objectives and makes your sat run out of fuel sooner or later.

I really like the idea of it just scaring away other satellites like a shepherd dog scaring sheep, or something. Especially since it's reusable. Not many spy sats can do that.

Edited by Wjolcz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.