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X-37B


Kerbal01
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9 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

And yet no space at all to explain why need a whole winged spacecraft to deliver 1.5 t per decade in 7 flights.

Just because it does not align with your speculation does not mean the other speculation up thread is incorrect... or that any of it is.

Point being - when you don't have information, putting your money on the least likely or most conspiracy-related 'theory' isn't the best use of your time.

 

 

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54 minutes ago, JoeSchmuckatelli said:

Just because it does not align with your speculation does not mean the other speculation up thread is incorrect... or that any of it is.

So, why need a whole spaceplane system to deliver almost nothing, when any regular cargo craft would even not see a difference?

Why leave the expensive spaceplane (with almost no room for payload) in space for years, instead of reusing it as often as possible or just keeping it in a safe storehouse?

Why need a maneuvering spaceplane for anything but combat purpose? (Its payload is ridiculous even for a spyscope).

Edited by kerbiloid
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58 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

So, why need a whole spaceplane system to deliver almost nothing, when any regular cargo craft would even not see a difference?

Why leave the expensive spaceplane (with almost no room for payload) in space for years, instead of reusing it as often as possible or just keeping it in a safe storehouse?

Why need a maneuvering spaceplane for anything but combat purpose? (Its payload is ridiculous even for a spyscope).

Just because one can’t see any other purpose for a thing besides what they believe makes sense to themself, does not mean that is the only justification the party actually using the thing sees.

On both sides of the globe, each can’t see each other doing anything for peaceful or defensive purposes. X country’s stuff must be for offense according to Y, and Y country’s stuff must be for offensive according to X.

IMO none of this is supposed to make sense. It’s two male cats fighting for dominance. Logic is a means to an end, and thus bent as needed, rather than making decisions based on logic.

Either one day the documents will be declassified and this can become a cool tidbit in history, or the documents will be incinerated in 400 kiloton blasts, along with the rest of us. The former is the only way we will know.

Operating based on conjecture and circumstance is very dangerous. I (and probably others) prefer to rely on facts, and there are none to be seen regarding the use of the X-37B to test nuclear weapons.

It’s as absurd as the Chinese orbital bombardment stations from the USSF Bezos briefing, insofar as there is no evidence for it.

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1 hour ago, SunlitZelkova said:

Just because one can’t see any other purpose for a thing besides what they believe makes sense to themself, does not mean that is the only justification the party actually using the thing sees.

Of course. But I don't ask about the exact precise purposes. What are at least possible ones? Physics is physics.

1 hour ago, SunlitZelkova said:

On both sides of the globe, each can’t see each other doing anything for peaceful or defensive purposes. X country’s stuff must be for offense according to Y, and Y country’s stuff must be for offensive according to X.

I didn't say opposite. I speak about exactly X-37(B,C).

1 hour ago, SunlitZelkova said:

It’s two male cats fighting for dominance.

It's > 2 human communities doing this. Cats don't build spaceplanes, they collect chunks of food, their ideas are rather simple.

1 hour ago, SunlitZelkova said:

It’s as absurd as the Chinese orbital bombardment stations from the USSF Bezos briefing, insofar as there is no evidence for it.

Idk about the Chinese plans, and I'm letting this alone.

I just notice that the whole X-37 programs is looking like a development of a space-based covert strike weapon, and as well the SLS+Orion are barely lunar, but perfectly HEO.

And all of them are ancested from Space Shuttle, maintained by military-oriented companies,
Every mentioned thing planned readiness date is mid-2030s, so the whole infrastructure completion looks planned on 2040.

A global distributed communication network (Starlink) is currently being tested in real conditions.

Btw, W93 is for UK fleet also. So, kinda Space AUKUS.

It looks very close to an attempt to establish a space monopoly and cut others from space, and then slowly walk to the Moon.

Just a shower thought conspiracy theory, of course. All mentioned actors are known for their pacifism.

Edited by kerbiloid
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9 hours ago, SunlitZelkova said:

It’s as absurd as the Chinese orbital bombardment stations from the USSF Bezos briefing, insofar as there is no evidence for it.

9 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Idk about the Chinese plans, and I'm letting this alone.

Although comparing with X-37B, the Chinese one may still be a rookie but... today is its fourth month in orbit

 

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7 hours ago, mikegarrison said:

It's because a certain poster keeps obsessing about it for no rational reason.

No, it's because nobody can give answers to very simple three questions.

For example:

5 hours ago, SunlitZelkova said:

It’s physically possible that the Moon landing was faked yet we don’t discuss that for obvious reasons.

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8 hours ago, SunlitZelkova said:

It’s physically possible that the Moon landing was faked yet we don’t discuss that for obvious reasons.

No, it is not possible it was faked.  The craft that landed on the Moon, both uncrewed and crewed, can and have in many cases be resolved from Earth and many more resolved by Moon orbiting satellites.  There's also the laser reflectors on the Moon that can be still used.  And there's all the hardware and documentation and still living witnesses (like me) who saw it all done.  That's a hell of a lot of work and broken lives and marriages for something that was "faked".

The only other possible explanation is that Stanley Kubrick was hired but he insisted on filming on-site, so they forged on with all the projects anyhoo.

 

2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

No, it's because nobody can give answers to very simple three questions.

What are the other two questions?  I just disposed of one of them above.

Oh, BTW, simple questions don't necessary have simple answers.  Explain the double-slit experiments briefly and completely.  I'll wait.

As for the X-37B, take its known specs and mission parameters.  Adopted from the X-37A, NASA uncrewed orbital test vehicle.  Uncrewed, vertical launch, horizontal landing, long duration LEO, low cargo.

I'd rule out orbital weapons because 1: that's a treaty violation and never done glibly (except by authoritarian madmen), and 2: why put a weapon in a less secure location and harder command and control environment when there's so many other weapons--with better security and command and control--already available that cover needed scenarios.

And remember, for Mathematics, the Sciences, and Intelligence, if you don't know enough to make a judgement of sufficient certainty, you leave it as undecided with current knowledge (maybe with a list of possibilities and how certain each).  Trying to narrow it down when there isn't enough information leads to mistakes.

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1 hour ago, Jacke said:

What are the other two questions?  I just disposed of one of them above.

Here you go.

Quote

Why need a whole spaceplane system to deliver almost nothing, when any regular cargo craft would even not see a difference?

Why leave the expensive spaceplane (with almost no room for payload) in space for years, instead of reusing it as often as possible or just keeping it in a safe storehouse?

Why need a maneuvering spaceplane for anything but combat purpose? (Its payload is ridiculous even for a spyscope).

 

1 hour ago, Jacke said:

Oh, BTW, simple questions don't necessary have simple answers. 

It's exactly the case when the answers can be quite simple, and the rocket science is not required, lol.

1 hour ago, Jacke said:

As for the X-37B, take its known specs and mission parameters. 

It's exactly what I did in the posts above.
 

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On 12/4/2022 at 7:36 AM, kerbiloid said:

So, why need a whole spaceplane system to deliver almost nothing, when any regular cargo craft would even not see a difference?

Why leave the expensive spaceplane (with almost no room for payload) in space for years, instead of reusing it as often as possible or just keeping it in a safe storehouse?

Why need a maneuvering spaceplane for anything but combat purpose? (Its payload is ridiculous even for a spyscope).

Why leave it in space for years? Obvious answer is to test stuff long term in space, stuff you don't want to test on the IIS as its multi national. 
Why use the x-37b? because they have it and it can stay in space for a long time. That other options is it?
You could use an dragon capsule. SpaceX has tried to sell an cargo dragon as an free flying laboratory. Probably harder to expose samples to space and might not handle an year free flying space. It also involves an 3rd party company.  
You could develop something new, yes it could be smaller with just an return pod but it would have even less cargo capacity and it would cost money to develop.

Most other uses could been done cheaper and more discreet with an small satellite, like spying on satellites or testing new technology you don't need to return to earth. 
It makes no sense as an active weapon, it might well be for testing components for space based weapons however. 

In short the x-37b is used as its one of the two ways the US can put something into space and return it. 

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18 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Why leave it in space for years? Obvious answer is to test stuff long term in space

Again, what stuff? A specplane with its wings, fins, etc., is not a stuff to stay in space for years. It's a stuff to deliver and return. It doesn't make sense to jhang it there for years.

20 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Why use the x-37b? because they have it and it can stay in space for a long time. That other options is it?

Before they began having it, they were designing it. Why need a 227 kg capable spaceplane? This puny payload makes no sense for anything but something tiny what you can't let be detected.

21 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

You could use an dragon capsule.

They could. And they didn't. For some mysttrious reasons they preferred to develop a spaceplane able to carry almost nothing.

Dragon was an obvious choice.

22 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

Most other uses could been done cheaper and more discreet with an small satellite, like spying on satellites or testing new technology you don't need to return to earth. 

Any reasonable payload by billions of money cheaper to send as a Cygnus regular cargo or a purposed satellute, without fins and wings.

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4 hours ago, Jacke said:

No, it is not possible it was faked.  The craft that landed on the Moon, both uncrewed and crewed, can and have in many cases be resolved from Earth and many more resolved by Moon orbiting satellites.  There's also the laser reflectors on the Moon that can be still used.  And there's all the hardware and documentation and still living witnesses (like me) who saw it all done.  That's a hell of a lot of work and broken lives and marriages for something that was "faked".

The only other possible explanation is that Stanley Kubrick was hired but he insisted on filming on-site, so they forged on with all the projects anyhoo.

I said physically possible, not “circumstantially” possible, or possible based on evidence.

I.e. like how a crewed Mars landing last year is physically possible, yet based on evidence, it is impossible.

Writing about all the lengths the US government would need to go to to implement a hypothetical fake Moon landing conspiracy can be done within the laws of physics, but there is no evidence that happened, and there is evidence that the Moon landings did happen, and so is pointless.

EDIT- I will add that kerbiloid is making his argument based on physics alone, so what I am trying to point out with my fake Moon landing example is that just because something is within the laws of physics does not mean it is plausible or worth discussion. To put it simply- it’s silly.

7 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

No, it's because nobody can give answers to very simple three questions.

There is no evidence that the X-37B is being used as a test platform for nuclear weapons or will be turned into a strike system in the future.

That’s the answer. Things are proven as fact when there is evidence to support them, not because no evidence against them exists.

EDIT- I will add that it is fact that the X-37B is a long duration materials test platform.

https://www.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/104539/x-37b-orbital-test-vehicle/

“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.“

Edited by SunlitZelkova
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First off, dude, slow down.  Really intelligence analysts, even field intel, take things less intensely.  Partly because it's often worse to get things wrong.  And you're in this for the long run, so pacing!

Also, you're going it back to front.  Assume whoever's running things is competent.  That means the X-37B fits the bill close enough for what they want.

 

2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

A specplane with its wings, fins, etc., is not a stuff to stay in space for years. It's a stuff to deliver and return. It doesn't make sense to jhang it there for years.

Why not?  There's two X-37B's.  If there was enough justifiable demand for the program to need another or even two more, I'm sure that would happen.  They're still a orbital test vehicle, just a classified one now.

Leaving the cargo inside the craft means there's less revealed about what the cargo is.  As LEO satellites can photograph the ground, ground and airborne cameras can get good photos of LEO satellites.

Also, if the cargo was deployed, the cargo would have to be designed for independent long-duration missions, just like an independent satellite.  Staying inside the X-37B means the X-37B provides power, environment, control, and communications.  That means the X-37B replaces the satellite bus, which for LEO/GTO satellites is about 20% of their cost (5 parts: Mission Payload, Bus, Launch Vehicle, Integration, Launch Site).  There's also no need to design and provide a way to deploy the cargo or recover it.  The X-37B was designed to do long duration testing, with the spacecraft capable of long on-orbit duration, and that's what it's doing.

 

2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Before they began having it, they were designing it. Why need a 227 kg capable spaceplane? This puny payload makes no sense for anything but something tiny what you can't let be detected.

Because the X-37B was developed from NASA's X-37A, which was a smaller Shuttle-like orbital test vehicle.   The USAF and DARPA were involved from the start and saw it as matching a need for long-duration orbital testing that they wanted to do. 

And why is 227kg puny?  Significant satellites were about that mass or less.  Because it's a cargo left in the X-37B which provides the satellite bus (usually over half the mass of a satellite), 227kg is rather significant.  The USAF and DARPA are very competent.  It must be good enough for what they're using it for,   And because this is classified program, they want to conceal as much as possible about it.  Leaving the cargo inside the long-duration vehicle does that very well.

 

2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

For some mysttrious reasons they preferred to develop a spaceplane able to carry almost nothing.

Dragon was an obvious choice.

Any reasonable payload by billions of money cheaper to send as a Cygnus regular cargo or a purposed satellute, without fins and wings.

Nothing mysterious about it.  In 1999 (long before Dragon or Cygnus), NASA and partners has the X-37A--an X-series experimental aircraft--built as a smaller Shuttle test article for the combined purposes of all the participants.  The USAF and DARPA continued the program as more closely classified with the similar X-37B.  First orbital flight of the X-37B was in 2006.  It's reusable, has a long working life, and appears to be adequate for what is wanted, so no need to replace it until the size and nature of the desired payload radically changes.

While Boeing designed and built the X-37A to the original spec, then the X-37B to the USAF/DARPA spec, it's the USAF that operates the X-37B.  That's not how Dragon nor Cygnus are operated.  And I don't think either has the ability to free-fly in LEO for the duration the X-37B does.  This is a traditional high security program.  The outside shape and some specs are known, but the insides and the contents are secret.  And it's the US Government Agencies that operate it in high security.

All this has happened before and all this will happen again.  Back in the day, I knew about the Discoverer satellites.  It wasn't until much later that I learned about CORONA.

Edited by Jacke
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59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

First off, dude, slow down.  Really intelligence analysts, even field intel, take things less intensely. 

I'm absolutely calm, that's some others are taking this too personally.
And I'm obviously not an intelligence analyst, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this on a game forum instead of reports.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

Assume whoever's running things is competent.  That means the X-37B fits the bill close enough for what they want.

That's exactly what I'm trying to demonstrate and explain.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:
3 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

A specplane with its wings, fins, etc., is not a stuff to stay in space for years. It's a stuff to deliver and return. It doesn't make sense to jhang it there for years.

Why not?  There's two X-37B's.  If there was enough justifiable demand for the program to need another or even two more,

Because so much expensive hardware should work or be stored in a sare place. You don't leave your Lamborghini on the street for years, you either ride it, or hide in garage.

(A "ride it or hide it!" strategy, I would say.)

The space conditions are definitely not the best place to store spaceplanes when they are not needed.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

As LEO satellites can photograph the ground, ground and airborne cameras can get good photos of LEO satellites.

Its payload is just 227 kg. No need to keep it in LEO just to ensure that a photocamera with 20 cm telescope can make some shots.

Serious spysats are 15 t heavy.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

Also, if the cargo was deployed, the cargo would have to be designed for independent long-duration missions, just like an independent satellite.  Staying inside the X-37B means the X-37B provides power, environment, control, and communications.  That means the X-37B replaces the satellite bus, which for LEO/GTO satellites is about 20% of their cost (5 parts: Mission Payload, Bus, Launch Vehicle, Integration, Launch Site).  There's also no need to design and provide a way to deploy the cargo or recover it. 

Exactly. And what cargo is worth a whole spaceplane system which has performed 7 flights to deliver 1.5 t of such crago to LEO.

Any Cygnus could take the whole 1.5 t in one flight an deliver to ISS.

Any Dragon could return it back to Earth.

Any Falcon could deliver this as an expendable sat.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

Because the X-37B was developed from NASA's X-37A, which was a smaller Shuttle-like orbital test vehicle. 

It was derived from the Shuttle aerodynamics, NASA was just a contractor.

Say, Dreamchaser is an absolutely another project.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

And why is 227kg puny?  Significant satellites were about that mass or less. 

Exactly. An none of them require a personal spaceplane which weights several times more than the cargo which is anyway expendable.

59 minutes ago, Jacke said:

The USAF and DARPA are very competent.  It must be good enough for what they're using it for

Exactly. That's why it would be very strange to develop a 227-kg-capable spaceplane for a regular cargo which they deliver in hundreds of tonnes amounts.

Edited by kerbiloid
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5 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

And I'm obviously not an intelligence analyst, otherwise I wouldn't be writing this on a game forum instead of reports.

In this day and age, we all have to be our own intelligence analyst and news reporter.  Learn somewhat how they do their jobs.  Because that's what's needed to understand this world.

But you are not taking account of what other people are saying.  You're just coming back and making more assumptions and going off onto tangents. 

Stop assuming.  Start with what is in the public knowledge confines what the X-37B is and does.  That's the way to understanding.

This isn't about massive cargo volume or rates.  This is one or more R&D or small production projects needing small payloads in LEO for long periods of time.

The X-37B isn't being "stored" in orbit.  It's there doing its job.  Orbital Test Vehicle.  It's in orbit, allowing its cargo to be tested and used under LEO conditions.  And LEO is relatively safe.  It's easy to watch it all the time.  Sure there's a bit of a hazard from space debris, but that's why that stuff is tracked.

The cargo isn't just another 15t spysat.  It doesn't have to be, as there are other satellites that do that.  Remember what is known.  Orbital Test Vehicle.  In the LEO environment.  Microgravity, LEO radiation, and a hard vacuum included.

 

5 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

And what cargo is worth a whole spaceplane system which has performed 7 flights to deliver 1.5 t of such crago to LEO.

This ain't about a massive quantity of cargo.  This is about getting an R&D job done.  These classified projects get approval. monitoring, and reviews.  They have to show what they're doing is worth the cost and effort.  That it's continued for 23 years means that it's gone through several reviews and continues.

 

5 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Any Cygnus could take the whole 1.5 t in one flight an deliver to ISS.

Any Dragon could return it back to Earth.

Any Falcon could deliver this as an expendable sat.

Doesn't matter.  The X-37B predates all these.  And is obviously adequate for the job.  Which ISN'T taking anything anywhere near the ISS.  So why change to another, less secure option.  This is CLASSIFIED.  They worry about information getting out.  So who knows what is minimized.  And new partners and new vehicles are not brought in unless absolutely needed.

You aren't paying attention to anything I'm saying.  Read what I've posted and try to understand it.

Edited by Jacke
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3 hours ago, Jacke said:

In this day and age, we all have to be our own intelligence analyst and news reporter.  Learn somewhat how they do their jobs.  Because that's what's needed to understand this world.

But you are not taking account of what other people are saying.  You're just coming back and making more assumptions and going off onto tangents. 

Stop assuming.  Start with what is in the public knowledge confines what the X-37B is and does.  That's the way to understanding.

This isn't about massive cargo volume or rates.  This is one or more R&D or small production projects needing small payloads in LEO for long periods of time.

The X-37B isn't being "stored" in orbit.  It's there doing its job.  Orbital Test Vehicle.  It's in orbit, allowing its cargo to be tested and used under LEO conditions.  And LEO is relatively safe.  It's easy to watch it all the time.  Sure there's a bit of a hazard from space debris, but that's why that stuff is tracked.

The cargo isn't just another 15t spysat.  It doesn't have to be, as there are other satellites that do that.  Remember what is known.  Orbital Test Vehicle.  In the LEO environment.  Microgravity, LEO radiation, and a hard vacuum included.

 

This ain't about a massive quantity of cargo.  This is about getting an R&D job done.  These classified projects get approval. monitoring, and reviews.  They have to show what they're doing is worth the cost and effort.  That it's continued for 23 years means that it's gone through several reviews and continues.

 

Doesn't matter.  The X-37B predates all these.  And is obviously adequate for the job.  Which ISN'T taking anything anywhere near the ISS.  So why change to another, less secure option.  This is CLASSIFIED.  They worry about information getting out.  So who knows what is minimized.  And new partners and new vehicles are not brought in unless absolutely needed.

You aren't paying attention to anything I'm saying.  Read what I've posted and try to understand it.

This, x-37b predate dragon, Cygnus can not return cargo to earth, also dragon is pressurized outside the trunk who does not return, Dragon can be depressurized but is not designed to fly like this for over a year. Yes you could put some can inside the door but you probably need to extend samples past the shielding. More g load in odd angles during reentry, and you can just roll the x-37b into an hangar on the military airbase you landed  where the black suits remove the payload.

And space planes has some benefit like lower g load during landing.  Nice for the high energy laser  system  fraction you are testing. I never said x-37b was not weapon related, just that  it was not an weapon system. 
Targeting is more  important however. 

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@kerbiloid Regarding the long flights, I'd guess they are making long-term tests of exposure for some materials.

What materials you'd say ? Probably some of them are fissile. :sealed: But they can be many other things as well. Mystery goo comes to mind...
Maybe some satellite imagery gear as well, but I doubt it. Maybe only for testing purposes.

 

To answer your second question (why use the X37 ?), I'd say just because, it fits the requirements needed for the experiments aboard. And it happens to have the benefit of giving the USSF more knowledge in reusable winged spacecrafts. It's a win-win situation.

 

Take it or leave it that's my uninformed opinion !

Thoughts ? :ph34r:

Edited by grawl
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5 hours ago, grawl said:

@kerbiloid Regarding the long flights, I'd guess they are making long-term tests of exposure for some materials.

What materials you'd say ? Probably some of them are fissile

Obviously, I even had listed them, lol.

Spoiler
  • delta-phase plutonium-239-gallium alloy (inner sparkplug layer)
    + its plutonium-240/241 and americium parasite impurities
  • uranium-233 deuteride (outer sparkplug layer)
    + its uranium-232 parasite impurities
  • highly-enriched uranium-235 (tamper/pusher)
  • reactor-grade uranium-238/235 (radiation case liner)
  • deuterized polyethylene (sparkplug laying and shock barrier)
  • metal tritide-deuteride (DT-boosting and neutron tube)
  • cesium (neutron source, maybe)
  • germanium-impregnated FOGBANK plastic/"aerogel" (radiation channel filler)
  • beryllium (pusher/reflector)
  • lithium-6 deuteride (fusion fuel, but probably already tested before, cuz just salt)
  • tungsten, titanium, stainless steel - in assortment, just as a part of the assembly in whole
  • carbon fiber, silicon carbide (cuz spysat film capsules didn't need it for heatshield)
  • hafnium carbide, tantalum carbide (as an improvement of the previous item)
  • nickel, copper, gold, rhenium (liners, plutonium insulation, tamper admixture)
  • PBX-blah-blah-digits super-fine safe explosive (implosive sphere and initiation layer)

Probably, missed something.

Two layered balls of materials, primary and secondary, inside a layered material case, that's it.

 

5 hours ago, grawl said:

But they can be many other things as well.

The keyword is "many". You can't test many things in a 227 kg bay used seven times last twelve years. You can test only the My Precious one.

For everything other there is the ISS.

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[snip]

Why a nuclear weapon(s) in orbit when that breaks the Outer Space Treaty?  The consequences of that would be catastrophic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

That's included in there because there's no benefit of putting a nuke in orbit.  There's plenty of ICBMs, SLBMs, and cruise missiles that can deliver nukes, some in less time that an nuke from orbit can do.  Even the Russians eventually gave up on their Fractional Orbit Bombardment System (got around the Treaty because the platform never stayed up for a full orbit) because there were no advantages to it and many drawbacks.  An Orbital Bombardment System would suffer the same drawbacks.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fractional_Orbital_Bombardment_System

 

17 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

The keyword is "many". You can't test many things in a 227 kg bay used seven times last twelve years. You can test only the My Precious one.

You must never had worked in any sort of laboratory.  Many experiments are tiny, even if they have to be adjusted for the LEO environment.  What about material testing for exposure to LEO environment?  Like what if a mechanism of various new materials is subject to vacuum welding or radiation damage?  And many many more.

A simple example.  The Viking Program Landers from the 1970's each massed about 600kg after landing.  The lab on them was a fraction of that mass, well under 227kg I imagine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_program#Viking_landers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_program#Biological_experiments
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viking_lander_biological_experiments

The cargo on the X-37B is stuff that they think is worth testing long-term in the actual LEO environment as opposed to what can be simulated on the ground.  And likely has already gone through ground testing for revision and refinement prior to going up on the X-37B so that there's an actual benefit to putting it in LEO for long term testing.

 

17 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

For everything other there is the ISS.

This is CLASSIFIED R&D.  Which may use information from other projects that have been on the ISS, but what's being done for it on the ground and in LEO will never go near such an insecure location.

Edited by Gargamel
Portions Redacted by Moderator
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46 minutes ago, Jacke said:

Why a nuclear weapon(s) in orbit when that breaks the Outer Space Treaty?  The consequences of that would be catastrophic.

Besides, what would be the need? The US already has weapon systems that can sneak into enemy territory and deliver nuclear packages on short notice: the B-2. It was designed to fly into Siberia unseen to hunt mobile missile launchers or drop bunker busters on storage sites. No need for a fancy space weapon lighting up like a Christmas tree on radar with the blazing heat of reentry. As evidenced by how Ukraine managed to strike a strategic air force base using modified drones from the 1970's, flying across the direction of a war zone for some 600 km without being intercepted, it's reasonable to assume the B-2 would have been able to snoop around for quite a while without being detected. Possibly while all the relevant intelligence assets had their eyes glued to the fancy little distraction in orbit.

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[snip]

14 hours ago, Jacke said:

Why a nuclear weapon(s) in orbit when that breaks the Outer Space Treaty?  The consequences of that would be catastrophic.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outer_Space_Treaty

 

As history clearly shows, any treaties are concluded just to not bother each other for nothing, when the parties are interested in the same, and agree to not disturb each other on subjects treated as currently impossible or commonly undesirable to the moment. When there appears a necessity or a possibility, the treaties quickly get obsolete and annoying, and they conclude another treaty based on the status-quo.

The same is about this one.

14 hours ago, Jacke said:

Was not a space weapon, as didn't perform at least one revolution about the Earth. It wasn't to place weapons in space, it was in fact an ICBM. Actually, it was suborbital by purpose and by the flight plan,

14 hours ago, Jacke said:

You must never had worked in any sort of laboratory.  Many experiments are tiny, even if they have to be adjusted for the LEO environment.  What about material testing for exposure to LEO environment? 
Like what if a mechanism of various new materials is subject to vacuum welding or radiation damage?  

Thousands of such experiments are cheaply done on board of the ISS (actually, it's what it exists for), on expendable satellites, on board of SpaceLab (never exceeded two weeks, like it should be for a spaceplane), and in returnable satellites. 
Also, there is Dragon for that, no need in an expensive spaceplane with almost zero capability.

It's obviously no need in a dedicated spaceplane to send another plastic box among thousand of others just to expose another aluminium-carbon-plastic sandwich.
The secrecy also doesn't play role here. Nobody knows, what's inside the box, as the astronaut is just taking the box #654 from Cygnus payload, puts it outside the station on the truss #45A, and six month later does the same in reverse order. What's inside the box, who is contractor, ain't of his business, he's just hands with attached head to manage them.

This doesn't work when the exposed material is emitting rays which penetrate any envelope and allow to detect them, study the composition of emitting isotopes (I did it not once in a civil lab. lol), and even picture the geometric distribution of the isotopes by moving a sensor from place to place and watching what's shaded by what looking from where.
It's basics since the 1990s treaties, and the published control mechansms for nuclear seaships control measurements. It was described in public press, how a guard is moving around a nuclear cruiser and the radiation is changing.

So, the only two things the ISS is absolutely not appropriate for, are: some RTG or reactor fuel (obviously no sense to study them in a spaceplane, they were used for decades and don't require that great precision), and a nuclear warhead (consists of a complicated sequence of thin isotope layers, being irradiated by various sorts of space radiation, radiating themselves, quickly changing their isotope and chemical composition say, Pu→Am, and thus requiring a long-term study to ensure that being put in LEO it won't rot or pop three years later).

14 hours ago, Jacke said:

A simple example.  The Viking Program Landers from the 1970's each massed about 600kg after landing.  The lab on them was a fraction of that mass, well under 227kg I imagine.

Viking was expendable, it was equipped with an expendable set of tools to perform the Mars mission and send data.
Viking is exactly an equivalent of expendable satellite, just with landing gear. It's rather normal when its ungeared siblings are orbiting around the Earth and measuring something. And - they don't use spaceplanes, they just fly and die.

14 hours ago, Jacke said:

This is CLASSIFIED R&D

How were the classified R&D being run without a spaceplane? And that's almost all space R&D at all,
Are there non-classified materiel R&D performed in space at all? Hardly can't imagine them. ISS is for any kind of R&D, Just everyone is running them in his own corner.

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2 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

...a nuclear warhead (consists of a complicated sequence of thin isotope layers, being irradiated by various sorts of space radiation, radiating themselves, quickly changing their isotope and chemical composition say, Pu→Am, and thus requiring a long-term study to ensure that being put in LEO it won't rot or pop three years later).

Quickly changing? I don't think the numbers support this idea. A kilogram of Pu 239 has hundreds of billions of radioactive decays occurring within in every second. Cosmic ray flux of GeV particles is only 10^4 per square METER per second (the flux of TeV cosmic rays is only 1 per m^2 per second, and the flux rate for even higher energy particles falls off precipitously). And a kilogram of Pu has a cross-section of much less than a square meter. The number of Pu atoms being converted by cosmic rays (even assuming a 100% efficiency of conversion) is going to be insignificant compared to the number of conversions going on naturally inside the Plutonium all the time...and the chunks of Plutonium metal take that vastly greater number of disruptions to its crystal structure in stride without affecting its ability to go boom when you squeeze it. At least not on the time scales of our civilizations. 

The structures that make up a nuclear weapon are not nearly as susceptible to radiation damage as fragile biological and electronic components of spacecraft (and we already study those effects). Also, the outer layer of the physics package that makes up the radiation channel reflector outer layer will act to shield the internal components from external radiation. Your concern makes no sense to me.

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13 minutes ago, Brotoro said:

Quickly changing? I don't think the numbers support this idea. A kilogram of Pu 239 has hundreds of billions of radioactive decays occurring within in every second. Cosmic ray flux of GeV particles is only 10^4 per square METER per second (the flux of TeV cosmic rays is only 1 per m^2 per second, and the flux rate for even higher energy particles falls off precipitously). And a kilogram of Pu has a cross-section of much less than a square meter. The number of Pu atoms being converted by cosmic rays (even assuming a 100% efficiency of conversion) is going to be insignificant compared to the number of conversions going on naturally inside the Plutonium all the time...and the chunks of Plutonium metal take that vastly greater number of disruptions to its crystal structure in stride without affecting its ability to go boom when you squeeze it. At least not on the time scales of our civilizations. 

The structures that make up a nuclear weapon are not nearly as susceptible to radiation damage as fragile biological and electronic components of spacecraft (and we already study those effects). Also, the outer layer of the physics package that makes up the radiation channel reflector outer layer will act to shield the internal components from external radiation. Your concern makes no sense to me.

https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Америций

Google:

Quote

Since 241Pu is usually present in freshly produced weapons-grade plutonium, 241Am accumulates in the material as 241Pu decays. In this regard, it plays an important role in the aging of plutonium weapons. Freshly produced weapons-grade plutonium contains 0.5-1.0% 241Pu, reactor-grade plutonium has from 5-15% to 25% 241Pu. In a few decades, almost all 241Pu will decay into 241Am. The energy of alpha decay of 241Am and the relatively short lifetime create a high specific radioactivity and thermal output (106 W/kg, for example, 241Pu has a thermal output of 3.4 W/kg). Most of the alpha and gamma activity of old weapons-grade plutonium is due to 241Am.

Also do not forget the helium, xenon, etc.

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