Before we reopened Eden Park Bed and Breakfast ,the wife and I lived the the USA for 6 years. We saw a lot of things and the influence of the military is everywhere; so I find the X-37B very cool.
The X-37B unmanned space plane will be undergoing its third launch, set upon a top secret mission by the Air Force. The spacecraft has a payload capacity about the size of a small truck bed, the contents of which are unknown.
X-37B will be hitching a ride aboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket at 1:03 p.m. on Tuesday. Although the launch window is open until just after 6:00 p.m., there is just a 30 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for liftoff.
The mini-space shuttle is about a quarter of the size of the retired NASA orbiters and is both a reusable and a robotic vehicle.
The vehicle has no crew cabin, no support life systems, and is solar-powered, designed to remain up in orbit for 270 days. Although its max life is supposed to be 270 days, the second X-37B mission flew for 469 days.
X-37B is also famous for being able to launch, orbit the Earth and re-enter our planet’s atmosphere, all autonomously.
Many theorists have opinions on what the super secret spacecraft is tasked with doing. Some believe that the X-37B harbors the capability of striking anywhere in the world in less than an hour.
Some believe that the vehicle is meant to keep an eye on China and Russia, particularly China’s new space endeavors. Amateur astronomers keeping an eye on X-37B’s orbital patterns say that the spacecraft is following closely on China’s Tiangong 1 orbit.
Others simply believe that X-37B is just a platform to allow the Air Force to perform experiments in space, or that it is a test bed for advanced sensors or secret missions.
Whatever it does this is one seriously cool piece of hardware produced by the US of A.
And now for the latest in USA Military Tech.
An unmanned experimental aircraft designed to fly six times the speed of sound broke apart over the Pacific Ocean seconds into a military test flight due to a faulty control fin, the U.S. Air Force said on Wednesday. The problem with the fin on the craft known as the Waverider or X-51A was identified in a test flight on Tuesday, 16 seconds after a rocket booster on the remotely monitored craft was ignited to propel it forward. Fifteen seconds later, when the X-51A separated from the rocket booster, it lost control due to a faulty-control fin.The 31 seconds of flight fell far short of the military’s goal for the X-51A to fly for five minutes.
The aircraft broke apart immediately and fell into the Pacific Ocean near Point Mugu northwest of Los Angeles.
The Waverider was designed to reach speeds of Mach 6 or above, six times the speed of sound and fast enough to zoom from New York to London in less than an hour. The military has its eye on using the Waverider program to develop missiles with non-nuclear explosives that could strike anywhere in the world within an hour.
The cost of the experimental aircraft, which military officials said was dropped from a B-52 bomber before its rocket booster was ignited, has not been disclosed because many details of the program are classified. The aircraft is known as the Waverider because it stays airborne, in part, with lift generated by the shock waves of its own flight. The Boeing Co’s Phantom Works division performed design and assembly on the craft.
This was the third of four X-51A aircraft built for the military, one of which flew for over three minutes at nearly five times the speed of sound during a 2010 test flight.
The Waverider is part of efforts by the U.S. military to develop a prompt global strike capability to hit targets anywhere in the world within an hour. Over the years, the global strike program will likely eat up billions of dollars in development costs. If the program becomes operational, targets could include conventional military sites or militants.
A missile would likely not be fired from a vehicle like the X-51A, but the craft itself would be the missile.
That the test flight crashed early due to a problem with a fin would likely be frustrating for the military because that part was relatively easy to build, unlike the largely untested Scramjet engine
which uses the forward motion of the craft to compress air for fuel combustion.
At Eden Park Bed and Breakfast we are always monitoring our arrivals and maintain our own meter as to New Zealand’s Inbound Tourism Industry so, when I read that China is now our third-largest tourist market and just shy of the $568 million spent by visitors from the UK, I have to wonder where are they?
The reports say that China has surged ahead of the United States and is on the verge of becoming New Zealand’s second-biggest tourist market, according to the latest International Visitor Survey.
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s survey showed tourism spending was $5.6 billion for the year ending June 2012. This was flat on the previous year’s total spend of $5.5 billion, despite visitor numbers having risen 5 per cent to 2.6 million. However, expenditure from Chinese visitors increased by 27 per cent to $522 million.
China had already overtaken Germany and the United States and will soon become our second-largest visitor market, behind Australia. The number of Australian visitors to New Zealand increased 6 per cent to 1.17 million but spending stayed flat at $1.6 billion. Each tourist spent an average of 19.4 days in the country, down from 20.1 days in the year ended June 2011.
Wish I could some of this bonanza at Eden Park Bed and Breakfast !
If anyone thought that the USA was taking a back seat in space with the retirement of the shuttle fleet……..Think again ! The new piece of Tech is the X-37B and it has just returned to earth after spending 15 months on a clandestine mission in space.
The secretive unmanned US space shuttle landed at a California military base early Saturday.
It was the second such autonomous landing at the Vandenberg air force base, 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles. In 2010, an identical unmanned spacecraft returned to Earth after seven months and 91m miles in orbit.
The latest homecoming was set in motion when the stubby-winged robotic X-37B fired its engine to slip out of orbit, then pierced through the atmosphere and glided down the runway like an airplane.
The twin X-37B vehicles are part of a military program testing robotically controlled reusable spacecraft technologies. Though the air force has emphasized the goal is to test the space plane itself, there’s a classified payload on board – a detail that has led to much speculation about the mission’s ultimate purpose.
Some amateur trackers think the craft carried an experimental spy satellite sensor judging by its low orbit and inclination, suggesting reconnaissance or intelligence gathering rather than communications. The latest X-37B was boosted into orbit atop an Atlas 5 rocket. It was designed to stay aloft for nine months, but the air force wanted to test its endurance. After determining the space plane was performing well, the military decided in December to extend the mission.
Little has been said publicly about the second X-37B flight and operations. At a budget hearing before the Senate armed services subcommittee in March, William Shelton, head of the air force space command, made a passing mention. That the second X-37B has stayed longer in space than the first shows “the flexibility of this unique system”, he told lawmakers.
The arc of the X-37 program spans back to 1999 and has changed hands several times.
Originally a NASA project, the space agency in 2004 transferred it to the Pentagon’s research and development arm, Darpa, and then to the secretive air force rapid capabilities office.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been poured into development, but the current total spent remains a secret. Built by Boeing’s Phantom Works, the 11,000-pound space plane stands 9 1/2 feet tall and is just over 29 feet long, with a wingspan of less than 15 feet. It possesses two angled tail fins rather than a single vertical stabilizer. Once in orbit, it has solar panels that unfurl to charge batteries for electrical power. Controlled by a pilot back on earth with a joy stick this “drone” will allow the USA to control anything in space . It is possible that it could even capture other satellites! Very COOL …
You have to be concerned when you hear that the United States Government has taken the unprecedented step of asking scientists to censor key parts of their work describing how they managed to mutate the H5N1 bird flu virus into a strain that could be highly infectious.
Officials have become so alarmed at the prospect of the information falling into the hands of terrorists that they have asked for critical details of the experiments to be deleted before publication.
Two groups of scientists, in the Netherlands and the US, have submitted scientific papers describing how they managed to convert the virus, which does not spread easily between people, into an airborne form that can be transmitted in coughs and sneezes.
In a statement released yesterday, the US National Institutes of Health, which funded the research, says there are concerns that the virus could evolve naturally into a form that is transmissible between humans, which could result in a devastating pandemic.
“While the public health benefits of such research can be important, certain information obtained through such studies has the potential to be misused for harmful purposes,” the statement says. “These manuscripts … concluded that the H5N1 virus has greater potential than previously believed to gain a dangerous capacity to be transmitted among mammals, including perhaps humans.”
Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, deliberately mutated the virus before passing it from one group of ferrets to another, which led to five mutations in two genes. His work was submitted to Science, while the manuscript of a similar study carried out by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Wisconsin and Tokyo universities was submitted to Nature.
While supportive of preventing research details falling into the wrong hands, Bruce Alberts and Philip Campbell, editors-in-chief of Science and Nature respectively, spoke of concerns about withholding potentially important public health information from responsible researchers.
Some scientists question whether such research should have been done in a university that does not have sophisticated anti-terrorist security. They also warn that viruses kept in seemingly secure laboratories have escaped in the past to cause epidemics – such as a 1977 flu outbreak.
“The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive,” a senior scientific adviser to the US Government told the Independent. “The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine.”
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed hundreds of millions of birds since 1996, but has so far infected only 600 people who came into direct contact with infected poultry. It has killed about 60 per cent of those people, making it one of the most lethal known forms of influenza in modern history – a deadliness moderated only by its inability, so far, to spread easily.
Scientists are in little doubt that the new strain has the potential to kill tens of millions of people. Independent