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Suggestion that the X-37B spaceplane is 'spying on China'

Posted by: SANEAlex - Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:17 pm
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Suggestion that the X-37B spaceplane is 'spying on China' 
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Post Suggestion that the X-37B spaceplane is 'spying on China'   Posted on: Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:17 pm
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16423881

I am all for a good conspiracy but i would have thought if it were spying it would be in a shadowing orbit rather than an occasional intersecting one or has the US military managed to perfect fast scanning long distance SQUID'S in recent years :?: and the CTC*1 has withheld that info from me. :wink: :twisted:




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Post Re: Suggestion that the X-37B spaceplane is 'spying on China'   Posted on: Fri Jan 06, 2012 10:47 am
On the other hand, the orbit is very similar, and while X-37B is supposed to have some plane-changing capabilities, those are still going to cost fuel. So, it still makes sense to launch it to where you want to have it, and 0.01 degrees difference is within the margin of error of a launcher's guidance system.

Was it the US military or NASA that has been experimenting with a pair of satellites that could dock automatically? Sure, refueling and fixing satellites is one thing, but the same technology could be used to dock and deorbit a satellite (shooting satellites would be a bad idea because of orbital debris). Going around in an orbit that's close to your opponent's satellites and eavesdropping on them as you fly by fits in with that. Think of it as an orbital version of intercepting those big Tupolev bombers testing out NATO's defenses...

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Post Re: Suggestion that the X-37B spaceplane is 'spying on China'   Posted on: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:23 pm
"Docking" with an uncooperative object is much harder than with something you designed to do so, from the latest ones, all the way back to the first Agena experiments. And maneuvering it is even harder. The visible center of mass of an object is not necessarily its center of gravity. A badly placed "deorbiter" could just wind up spinning the target uncontrollably, to the point where it breaks up.

Its interesting that the X-37 has the potential to return "things", and that is really the only utility worth the extra cost (in terms of money and launch mass) of a reusable craft in this context. That its introduction to service coincided with the sunset of the STS is either just a coincidence or the USAF has had and has an ongoing requirement to place and return cargo from LEO.

Anyone who actually knows why won't be saying.


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