Tag: Marshall

Secretive X-37B Military Space Plane Preps for Another Mystery Mission


X-37B Space Plane in Orbit: Artist’s Concept
Artist's illustration of the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane in orbit. The mysterious spacecraft is scheduled to launch on its fourth mission on May 20, 2015.
Credit: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center




Excerpt from space.com


The United States Air Force's X-37B space plane will launch on its fourth mystery mission next month.
The unmanned X-37B space plane, which looks like a miniature version of NASA's now-retired space shuttle orbiter, is scheduled to blast off atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on May 20.

"We are excited about our fourth X-37B mission," Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, said in a statement. "With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we’re able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads." 

The X-37B's payloads and specific activities are classified, so it's unclear exactly what the spacecraft does while zipping around the Earth. But Air Force officials have revealed a few clues about the upcoming mission.

"The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO) are investigating an experimental propulsion system on the X-37B on Mission 4," Capt. Chris Hoyler, an Air Force spokesman, told Space.com via email.  

"AFRCO will also host a number of advance materials onboard the X-37B for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to study the durability of various materials in the space environment," Hoyler added.

The Air Force owns two X-37B space planes, both of which were built by Boeing's Phantom Works division. The solar-powered spacecraft are about 29 feet long by 9.5 feet tall (8.8 by 2.9 meters), with a wingspan of 15 feet (4.6 m) and a payload bay the size of a pickup-truck bed. The X-37B launches vertically atop a rocket and lands horizontally on a runway, like the space shuttle did.

One of the two X-37B vehicles flew the program's first and third missions, which were known as OTV-1 and OTV-3, respectively. ("OTV" is short for "Orbital Test Vehicle.") The other spacecraft flew OTV-2. Air Force officials have not revealed which space plane will be going to orbit on the upcoming mission.

OTV-1 launched in April 2010 and landed in December of that year, staying in orbit for 225 days. OTV-2 blasted off in March 2011 and circled Earth for 469 days, coming down in June 2012. OTV-3 launched in December 2012 and stayed aloft for a record-breaking 675 days, finally landing in October 2014.

Recovery Crew Processes X-37B Space Plane
A recovery team processes the U.S. Air Force's X-37B space plane after the robotic spacecraft's successful landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Oct. 17, 2014. The touchdown marked the end of the X-37B’s third space mission.
Credit: Boeing

If Air Force officials know how long OTV-4 is going to last, they're not saying.

"The X-37B is designed for an on-orbit duration of 270 days," Hoyler said. "Longer missions have been demonstrated. As with previous missions, the actual duration will depend on test objectives, on-orbit vehicle performance and conditions at the landing facility."

The secrecy surrounding the X-37B and its payloads has fueled speculation in some quarters that the vehicle could be a space weapon of some sort. But Air Force officials have repeatedly refuted that notion.

"The primary objectives of the X-37B are twofold: reusable spacecraft technologies for America's future in space, and operating experiments which can be returned to, and examined, on Earth," Air Force officials wrote in on online X-37B fact sheet. 

"Technologies being tested in the program include advanced guidance, navigation and control; thermal protection systems; avionics; high-temperature structures and seals; conformal reusable insulation, lightweight electromechanical flight systems; and autonomous orbital flight, re-entry and landing."

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Shortest Total Lunar Eclipse of the Century Visible Early Saturday


 


Excerpt from space.com 
By Calia Cofield 

Don't forget to look skyward in the early hours of Saturday morning (April 4), to catch a glimpse of the shortest total lunar eclipse of the century.

The moon will be completely swallowed by Earth's shadow for just 4 minutes and 43 seconds on Saturday morning, according to NASA officials. During that time, the moon may change from its normal grayish hue to a deep, blood red. The total eclipse begins at 6:16 a.m. EDT (1016 GMT). You can watch a live webcast of the eclipse on the Slooh Observatory website, Slooh.com, or here at Space.com courtesy of Slooh, starting at 6 a.m. EDT (1000 GMT).
That color change can make for a dramatic display, especially for humans in the distant past, NASA officials said. 


"For early humans, [a lunar eclipse] was a time when they were concerned that life might end, because the moon became blood red and the light that the moon provided at night might have been taken away permanently," Mitzi Adams, an astronomer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, said during a news conference today (April 3). "But fortunately, [the light] always returned." 

The April 4 eclipse is the third in a series of four total lunar eclipses — known as a lunar tetrad — visible in the United States. Each of the eclipses is separated by about 6 months. The final installment of this four-eclipse series will occur on Sept. 28. Saturday's lunar eclipse follows closely behind the total solar eclipse that took place on March 20.

Earth's shadow has an outer ring, called the penumbra, and an inner core, called the umbra. Where the moon passes into the penumbra, it appears dark, as if a bite had been taken out of it. When the moon passes though the umbra, it turns a deep, red color.

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon is totally submerged in the umbra. On Saturday, the moon will begin to enter the umbra at about 6:16 a.m. EDT (1016 GMT) but will not be completely covered by the shadow until about 7:57 EDT (1157 GMT), after the moon has set in most locations east of the Mississippi River.

While the total eclipse will last less than five minutes, the moon will be partially submerged in the umbra for about one hour and 40 minutes. The dark shadow of the penumbra will first be visible on the moon's surface starting at about 5:35 a.m. EDT (0935 GMT), according to Sky and Telescope magazine.

Viewers west of the Mississippi River will be able to see the total lunar eclipse, starting at about 4:57 a.m. PDT (1157 GMT). Skywatchers in Hawaii and western Alaska will be able to watch the entire eclipse, from the moon's entrance to its exit from the penumbra.

Viewing Guide for Total Lunar Eclipse, April 4, 2015
This world maps shows the regions where the April 4 total lunar eclipse will be visible. The best viewing locations are in the Pacific Ocean.

This weekend's eclipse is extremely short because the moon is only passing through the outskirts of the umbra. (The shortest total lunar eclipse in recorded history, according to Adams, was in 1529 and lasted only 1 minute and 41 seconds).

The eclipse will not be visible in Europe or most of Africa. The partial eclipse will be visible in all except the easternmost parts of South America. The best viewing locations for the total eclipse will be in the Pacific region, including eastern Australia, New Zealand and other parts of Oceania.

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Giant Dunes on Saturn’s Moon Titan





Excerpt from space.com

The towering dunes on Saturn's largest moon, Titan, may look similar to the sandy hills of Earth's Sahara, but their origins are completely different, researchers say. Instead of forming continuously over time like on Earth, Titans dunes are forged by short, powerful rogue winds.

Reaching heights of more than 300 feet (91 meters), the dunes of Titan present a puzzling mystery: they seem to form in the opposite direction as Titan's steady east-to-west winds. Two new studies suggest that rare bursts of wind blowing westward are responsible for these enormous structures. The findings shed light on the remote satellite that shares many qualities with Earth.

"It was a bear to operate, but Dr. Burr's refurbishment of the facility as a Titan simulator has tamed the beast. It is now an important addition to NASA's arsenal of planetary simulation facilities," John Marshall, of the SETI Institute, and a co-author on the new research, said in the statement.

Titan's dunes are not made of the kind of sand found in deserts on Earth, but a more viscous material. Scientists don't know exactly what it is, only that it is made of hydrogen and carbon — two ingredients that can be used to create a laundry list of different materials on Earth, from methane to paraffin wax. According to Burr, the hydrogen-carbon material may coat particles of water ice.
The researchers found that the regular east-to-west winds are not strong enough to shape the viscous material into the massive dune shapes that are observed. Instead, they believe the dunes are shaped by short, rapid bursts of westerly wind. The winds on Titan "occasionally reverse direction and dramatically increase in intensity due to the changing position of the Sun in its sky," the statement said.

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Benjamin Fulford Interview by Sean David Morton, October 13, 2011

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An excerpt from Divine Cosmos

Transcript by David Wilcock: 

INTRODUCTION TO BEN FULFORD

Link to Fulford / Morton Interview

http://www.americanfreedomradio.com/archive/Strange-Universe-32k-101311.mp3

...

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Power Path: Full Moon Update 10-11-11 with Pat Liles

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10 October 2011

Channeler: Lena Stevens

Dear Friends,

The Full Moon is Tuesday, October 11at 8:06PM Mountain Daylight Time. This is a beautiful and practical time full of feeling, of love, of possibilities, of w...

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Peer Claims ‘Foundation X’ Will Pay UK Debt

9:41pm UK, Thursday November 04, 2010

Ruth Barnett, Sky News Online

A shadowy organisation has apparently offered to lend the UK £75bn to clear the national debt and "help save the world", a peer has told Sky News.

...

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