Boeing X-37 Space Plane

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Boeing X-37 Space Plane

Post by Silverfox_Blade » Sat Dec 17, 2011 7:28 am ... ght/17209/

So, while the shuttles are gone - sadly - does the new X-37b spaceplane represent something of a step in the right direction?

I'm intrigued by it, as it seems to be a test for all manner of new technologies and concepts. It's also interesting that it's operated by the USAF rather than by NASA, who seem to have little-to-no involvement with the project so far, although details and specifics are hard to come by.

It's less enthralling that it's an unmanned program, but that's probably due to the current driving trend for unmanned vehicles, and the fact that the removal of humans from the design means that it's much, much easier to build something to go into space if you don't have to include environmental systems.

Still, I'm interested in the potential of the X-37, and what it could - potentially - mean for future space developments and technologies, and if nothing else, that government-funded space development isn't dead in the USA, at least. Here in the UK, we have no space programme at all!

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Re: Boeing X-37 Space Plane

Post by Ryujin » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:48 pm

The Shuttle was always a political compromise of a beast, made so in order to serve two different masters. The USAF has always been big on space exploitation (not exploration--big difference in mission profiles there) and has had a long history with the development of space vehicles before everything got lumped in with NASA. They were planning some really ambitious projects back during the Fifties & early Sixties (like putting nuclear missile launch facilities on the Moon).

As for civilian projects, at least private enterprise has been stepping up to the plate and beginning to make up for the slack. For example, there's the recent announcement of a partnership between Burt Rutan, SpaceX, and Microsoft's Paul Allen to develop the Stratolaunch System, a reusable carrier aircraft for launching rockets at high altitude instead of from the ground.
Silverfox_Blade wrote:Here in the UK, we have no space programme at all!
Kinda sad, really. The UK has cooked up lots of really advanced aerospace projects since the end of WWII, but very few of them ever came to fruition.

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