Friday, October 23, 2009

NASA's X-37 Project, New Technologies, and - EEEK! the Military!!

"Air Force's Secretive Space Plane Nears Maiden Voyage " (October 22, 2009)

"You would think that an unpiloted space plane built to rocket spaceward from Florida atop an Atlas booster, circle the planet for an extended time, then land on autopilot on a California runway would be big news. But for the U.S. Air Force X-37B project — seemingly, mum's the word.

"There is an air of vagueness regarding next year's Atlas Evolved Expendable launch of the unpiloted, reusable military space plane. The X-37B will be cocooned within the Atlas rocket's launch shroud — a ride that's far from cheap.

"While the launch range approval is still forthcoming, has learned that the U.S. Air Force has the X-37B manifested for an April 2010 liftoff...."

The practical side of this article tells that the X-37 project is moving along. Slowly, but it's moving. That part is, for me, rather exciting. It's good to see that NASA is doing research and development for next-generation reusable vehicles like the Space Shuttle.

The rest is a discussion of the serious concerns of globally-minded persons, diligent in their efforts to constrain efforts by the military-industrial complex (the phrase isn't used, BTW) to sully the purity of space with their engines of oppression. Or, this culture's usual background noise of peackniks: it depends on your point of view.

Here's a sample:

"...'The problem with it [X37-B] is whether you see it as a weapons platform,' said Theresa Hitchens, former head of the Center for Defense Information's Space Security Program, now Director of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva, Switzerland...."

Me? I think it would be very nice if everybody would be nice, and agree to stop being nasty. I also think that there's little in the five millennia or so of human history to suggest that the world's Caligulas and Pol Pots will be willing to go along with such a nice idea. (I'm pretty sure Pol Pot still has his fans - after all, there's the 79% of Cambodia's population that he didn't kill.)

Isn't the Lemming Supposed to be Apathetic?

I've posted an explanation of this blog's name. Briefly, the Lemming is "apathetic" in the sense that I don't care deeply, passionately, irrationally, about the 'right' things.

X-37 and NASA

For a super-secret, hush-hush project, NASA has quite a bit about the X-37 online:


"NASA's X-37 is an advanced technology flight demonstrator, which will help define the future of space transportation - pushing technology into a new era of space development and exploration at the dawn of the new century. The X-37 will test and validate...."

There are quite a few pictures, too: Artists' renderings of the X-37, for the most part.

On the other hand, the most recent press release I saw was from April, 2004. So, if I wanted to, I could weave a tale of suspense and intrigue about what the X-37 project is really about. It wouldn't be true (at least I seriously doubt that space aliens, the Girl Scouts, and Elvis are involved), but it might be fun.

Sadly, for that I don't have time.

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