Search My Blog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Boeing X-37 - Info and Links

Boeing X-37


X-37B being prepared for launch
Role Spaceplane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Boeing
First flight 7 April 2006 (drop test);
22 April – 3 December 2010 (first spaceflight)
Status Development and testing, one spaceflight completed
Primary users NASA/DARPA (X-37A)
USAF (X-37B)
Number built 2
Developed from Boeing X-40
Update (06-14-12) Go here...

Boeing X-37 - Space Plane Videos and info

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from X-37)

The Boeing X-37 (also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle) is an American unmanned vertical-takeoff, horizontal-landing (VTHL) spaceplane. The X-37 is operated by the United States Air Force for orbital spaceflight missions intended to demonstrate reusable space technologies.[1] It is a reusable robotic spaceplane that is a 120% scaled derivative of the X-40A.
The X-37 began as a NASA project in 1999, then was transferred to the U.S. Department of Defense in 2004. It had its first flight as a drop test on 7 April 2006, at Edwards Air Force Base. The spaceplane's first orbital mission, USA-212 was launched on 22 April 2010 using an Atlas V rocket. Its return to Earth on 3 December 2010 was the first test of the vehicle's heat shield and hypersonic aerodynamic handling. A second X-37B was launched on 5 March 2011 with the mission designation USA-226.



[edit] Development

In 1999, NASA selected Boeing Integrated Defense Systems to design and develop the vehicle, built by the California branch of Boeing's Phantom Works. Over a four-year period NASA contributed $109 million, the US Air Force $16 million, and Boeing $67 million to the project. In late 2002 a new $301 million contract was awarded to Boeing in the framework of NASA's Space Launch Initiative.[2]
The X-37 was transferred from NASA to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on 13 September 2004.[3] The program has become a classified project, although it is not known whether DARPA will maintain this status for the project. NASA's spaceflight program may be centered around the Crew Exploration Vehicle, while DARPA will promote the X-37 as part of the independent space policy that the US Department of Defense has pursued since the Challenger disaster.
The X-37 was originally designed to be carried into orbit in the Space Shuttle cargo bay, but underwent redesign for launch on a Delta IV or comparable rocket after it was determined that a shuttle flight would be uneconomical.[4] The X-37's aerodynamic design was derived from the Space Shuttle, hence the X-37 has a similar lift-to-drag ratio, and a lower cross range at high altitudes and Mach numbers than DARPA's Hypersonic Technology Vehicle.[5]
As part of its Space Support mission goals, X-37 was designed to rendezvous with friendly satellites to refuel them, or to replace failed solar arrays using a robotic arm. Its payload could also support Space Control (Defensive Counter-Space, Offensive Counter-Space), Force Enhancement and Force Application.[6] An early requirement for the spacecraft called for a delta-v of 7,000 mph (3.1 km/s) to change its orbit.[7]

[edit] Glide tests

The vehicle that was used as an atmospheric drop test glider had no propulsion system. Instead of an operational vehicle's payload bay doors it had an enclosed and reinforced upper fuselage structure to allow it to be mated with a mothership. In September 2004 DARPA announced that for its initial atmospheric drop tests the X-37 would be launched from the Scaled Composites White Knight, a high-altitude research aircraft.[8]
On 21 June 2005 the X-37 completed a captive-carry flight underneath the White Knight from Mojave Spaceport, Mojave, California.[9] Through the second half of 2005, the X-37 underwent structural upgrades including reinforcement of the nose wheel supports. Further captive-carry flight tests and the first drop test were expected mid-February 2006. The X-37's public debut was scheduled for its first free flight on 10 March 2006, but was canceled due to an Arctic storm.[10] The next attempt at flight on 15 March 2006 was canceled due to high winds.[10]
On 24 March 2006, the X-37 flew, but a data link failure prevented the free flight and the vehicle returned to the ground still attached to its White Knight carrier. On 7 April 2006, the X-37 made its first free glide flight. During landing, the vehicle overran the runway and it sustained minor damage.[11]
Following an extended downtime while the vehicle was repaired, the program moved from Mojave to Air Force Plant 42 (KPMD) in Palmdale, California for the remainder of the flight test program. White Knight continued to be based at Mojave, but would ferry over to Plant 42 when flights were scheduled. Five additional flights were performed,[12] two of which resulted in X-37 releases with successful landings. These free flights occurred on 18 August 2006 and 26 September 2006.[13]

[edit] X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle

X-37 spacecraft, artist's rendering from 1999
On 17 November 2006 the U.S. Air Force announced it would develop the X-37B from the NASA X-37A. The Air Force version is designated X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV). The OTV program builds on industry and government investments by DARPA, NASA and the Air Force. The X-37B effort will be led by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, and includes partnerships with NASA and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Boeing is the prime contractor for the OTV program.[14][15][16] The X-37B can remain in orbit for up to 270 days at a time.[17]
The Secretary of the Air Force states the OTV program will focus on "risk reduction, experimentation, and operational concept development for reusable space vehicle technologies, in support of long-term developmental space objectives."[14]
The X-37B was originally scheduled for launch in the payload bay of the Space Shuttle, but following the Columbia accident, it was transferred to a Delta II 7920. It was subsequently transferred to a shrouded configuration on the Atlas V following concerns over the unshrouded spacecraft's aerodynamic properties during launch.[18] Following their missions, X-37B spacecraft are to land on a runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, with Edwards Air Force Base as an alternate site.[19][20]
Manufacturing on the second X-37B, OTV-2 was underway in 2010;[21] it was completed and was first launched in March 2011.[22]

[edit] Design

The X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle is a reusable robotic spaceplane. It is a 20% larger derivative of X-40.[2] The OTV has a length of over 29 feet (8.8 m) and features two angled tail fins.[1][23] The spaceplane's payload bay is available for experiments and other space payloads. It features thermal protection systems that are improved from previous generations of spacecraft.[6] The thermal protection system uses improved silica ceramic tiles.[24]
The X-37 is expected to operate in a velocity range of up to Mach 25 on reentry. Among the technologies to be demonstrated with the X-37 are improved thermal protection systems, avionics, the autonomous guidance system and an advanced airframe.[4] The vehicle is powered by a Rocketdyne AR2-3 engine.[25] The AR2-3 was the human-rated rocket powerplant for the dual-power NF-104A astronaut training vehicle and was given a new flight certification for use on the X-37 with hydrogen peroxide/JP-8 propellants.[26] The X-37B now uses a hydrazine monopropellant rocket.[24]
Because the X-37 is a robotic vehicle, it is capable of landing automatically upon returning from orbit. It is the second reusable spacecraft to have such a capability, the first being the Soviet Buran.[27]

[edit] Operational history

OTV-1 sits on the runway at Vandenberg AFB after landing
The first orbital flight of OTV-1, the first X-37B, with a mission name of USA-212, was launched on an Atlas V rocket at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida on 22 April 2010, at 23:58 GMT. The spacecraft was placed into low Earth orbit for testing.[15]
While the U.S. Air Force revealed few orbital details after the first X-37B was successfully placed in orbit due to the secretive nature of the mission, amateur astronomers claimed to have identified the experimental spacecraft in orbit and shared their findings. A worldwide network of amateur astronomers reported that on 22 May it was in an inclination of 39.99 degrees, circling the Earth once every 90 minutes on an orbit 249 by 262 miles (401 by 422 km).[28][29] The amateur sky watchers reported the spacecraft's track went over North Korea, Afghanistan, and other trouble spots. They reported that the spacecraft passed over the same given spot on Earth every four days, and operated at an altitude of 255 miles (410 km), which is typical for a military surveillance satellite.[30]

Personnel inspect OTV-1, the first X-37B, after its return
The U.S. Air Force announced on 30 November 2010 that the X-37 would return for a landing during the 3–6 December timeframe.[31][32] As scheduled, OTV-1 de-orbited, reentered Earth's atmosphere, and landed at Vandenberg AFB on 3 December 2010, at 1:16 PST (09:16 UTC).[33][34][35] The X-37B had a tire blowout during landing and sustained minor damage to its underside.[21]
A second X-37B mission, designated USA-226,[36] was launched aboard an Atlas V rocket, on 5 March 2011.[37] The mission was classified and described by the US military as to test out new space technologies.[38]

[edit] Controversy

In April 2010, the China Daily newspaper wrote that the X-37B program raised concerns about an arms race in space.[39] The Xinhua News Agency took a more moderate tone in questioning if the secretive program might lead to weapons in space.[40] Tom Burghardt wrote for that the X-37B could be used as a spy satellite or to deliver weapons from space.[41] The Pentagon has denied claims that the X-37B's mission supports the development of space-based weapons.[41]

[edit] Specifications

[edit] X-37B

Data from USAF,[1][6] Boeing,[42] Air & Space Magazine[43],[44]
General characteristics
  • Orbital speed: 17,500 mph (28,200 km/h)
  • Orbit: Low Earth orbit
  • Orbital time: Up to 270 days[45]

[edit] See also

Related development
Comparable aircraft

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d "Factsheet: X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle". US Air Force, 14 April 2010
  2. ^ a b "X-37 Technology Demonstrator: Blazing the trail for the next generation of space transportation systems". NASA, September 2003. Retrieved: 23 April 2010.
  3. ^ Berger, Brian. "NASA Transfers X-37 Project to DARPA"., 15 September 2004.
  4. ^ a b Yenne 2005, p. 277.
  5. ^ "Air Force Bloggers Roundtable: Air Force set to launch first X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle". Department of Defense, 20 April 2010. Retrieved: 23 April 2010.
  6. ^ a b c Jameson, Major Austin D., USAF. "X-37 Space Vehicle: Starting a New Age in Space Control?", April 2001.
  7. ^ "X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle". Retrieved: 8 December 2010.
  8. ^ Berger, Brian. "DARPA takes on space plane project". MSNBC, 16 September 2004.
  9. ^ David, Leonard. "White Knight carries X-37 aloft". CNN, 23 May 2005
  10. ^ a b "Mojave web log entries". 23 April 2010. Retrieved: 4 June 2006.
  11. ^ David, Leonard. "X-37 Flies At Mojave But Encounters Landing Problems"., 7 April 2006.
  12. ^ Source of flights: mission markings posted on side of White Knight
  13. ^ "X-37 Test Flight B-Roll (No Audio)". US Air Force via, 22 April 2010.
  14. ^ a b David, Leonard. "U.S. Air Force Pushes For Orbital Test Vehicle.", 17 November 2006. Retrieved: 17 November 2006.
  15. ^ a b Clark, Stephen. "Atlas rocket delivers Air Force spaceplane to orbit". Spaceflight Now, 22 April 2010.
  16. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Air Force spaceplane is an odd bird with a twisted past". Spaceflight Now, 2 April 2010. Retrieved: 3 April 2010.
  17. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Air Force X-37B spaceplane arrives in Florida for launch". Spaceflight Now, 25 February 2010. Retrieved: 3 March 2010.
  18. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "X-37B". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved: 5 August 2008.
  19. ^ Covault, Craig. "USAF To Launch First Spaceplane Demonstrator". Aviation Week and Space Technology, 3 August 2008.
  20. ^ "Unmanned US spacecraft returns after 7-month trip".[dead link] Associated Press story via Yahoo News, 3 December 2010.
  21. ^ a b Norris, Guy. "Second X-37B Prepared For Launch". Aviation Week, 7 December 2010.
  22. ^ Second secret space shuttle blasts into orbit... but what does it actually do up there? | Mail Online
  23. ^ Miller 2001, p. 377.
  24. ^ a b "Mr. Gary Payton, Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs, Media Teleconference (Pentagon), X-37B Launch"., 20 April 2010. Retrieved: 3 December 2010.
  25. ^ "Boeing X-37 Technology Demonstrator, USA". Retrieved: 6 December 2010.
  26. ^ Hebert, Bartt. "Peroxide (H2O2) Test Programs, AR2-3 Flight Certification". SDC Operations, NASA Engineering and Test Directorate, 24 July 2009.
  27. ^ Chertok, Boris. "Rockets and People" Raketi i lyudi. NASA History Series, January 2005, p. 179. Retrieved: 8 July 2011.
  28. ^ David, Leonard. "Secret X-37B Space Plane Spotted by Amateur Skywatchers"., 22 May 2010.
  29. ^ "Amateur astronomers unravel X37-B orbit, say likely use for deploying spy satellites"., 24 May 2010.
  30. ^ "Surveillance Is Suspected as Spacecraft’s Main Role". New York Times on-line, 21 May 2010. Retrieved: 22 May 2010.
  31. ^ "Preparations underway for first landing of X-37B". U.S. Air Force, 30 November 2010
  32. ^ "USAF X-37B Landing Slated for Dec. 3-6". Aviation Week, 30 November 2010. Retrieved: 1 December 2010.
  33. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Home again: U.S. military space plane returns to Earth". Spaceflight Now, 3 December 2010. Retrieved: 3 December 2010.
  34. ^ a b "X-37B Completes 220-Day Mission". Aviation Week, 6 December 2010. Retrieved: 7 December 2010.
  35. ^ "X-37B US military spaceplane returns to Earth". BBC, 3 December 2010. Retrieved: 3 December 2010.
  36. ^ OTV 2 (USA 226) Satellite details 2011-010A NORAD 37375
  37. ^ LA Times (retrieved 5 March 2011)
  38. ^ Wall, Mike, "Secretive X-37B Space Plane Launches on New Mystery Mission[dead link]", Yahoo! News, 5 March 2011; retrieved 7 March 2011.
  39. ^ Dingding, Xin. "US spacecraft sparks arms race concerns". China Daily, 24 April 2010. Retrieved: 15 July 2010
  40. ^ Xiang, Zhang. "U.S. military launches unmanned 'space plane'." Xinhua News Agency, 23 April 2010. Retrieved: 15 July 2010.
  41. ^ a b "The Militarization of Outer Space: The Pentagon's Space Warriors"., 11 May 2010.
  42. ^ "X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle". Boeing. Retrieved: 6 December 2010
  43. ^ Klesius, Michael. "Space Shuttle Jr." Air & Space Magazine, 1 January 2010.
  44. ^ Antczak, John for Associated Press. "Air Force to launch robotic winged space plane"., 3 April 2010.
  45. ^ Evans, Michael. "Launch of secret US space ship masks even more secret launch of new weapon". The Times, 24 April 2010. Retrieved: 25 April 2010.

[edit] External links

Go there...

X-37 - Space Plane
X-37B: the space plane of mystery (pictures) | TechRepublic
X-37B space plane - Google Search
Air Force's Secret X-37B Space Plane Mission Ending Soon |
USAF X-37B Space Plane Landing Soon | Secret X-37B Project |
Super Secretive X-37B Space Plane To Land [Infographic] | WebProNews
Secret Mission of Air Force's X-37B Robot Space Plane May Go Into Overtime | Space Weapons & X-37B Unmanned Space Plane | Unmanned Spaceflight & Spy Satellites |
Boeing X-37 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
X-37B space plane - Google Search
X-37B space plane - Google Search
X-37B space plane - Google Search
boeing x-37 - Google Search
boeing x-37 - Google Search
X-37 News - Marshall Space Flight Center News
X-37 News - Marshall Space Flight Center News
EC01-0107-01.jpg (JPEG Image, 2400 × 3350 pixels) - Scaled (26%)
boeing x-37 - Google Search
boeing x-37 - Google Search
boeing x-37 - Google Search
Air Force's Secretive X-37B Space Plane May Land Friday - YouTube
Boeing's New Crew-Carrying Spaceship Taking Shape | Private Spaceflight |
Test Flight of X-37, predecessor of X-37B - YouTube
X-37B - Google Search
X-37B: Secret space plane 1 year on mystery mission — RT
X-37B - Google Search

No comments: