The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle also referred to as the Advanced Technology Demonstrator is set for launch tonight, April 22, 2010. It will be taken aloft by The Atlas V in the 501 vehicle configuration with a five-meter fairing, no solid rocket boosters and a single-engine Centaur upper stage from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 41. The planned liftoff time is 7:52 p.m. and the launch window will extend through 8:01 p.m.
The X-37B OTV is not your everyday launch. First of all, this is not a NASA program, but a U.S. government launch that is cloaked in secrecy. Shuttle Atlantis only this morning has reached its seaside perch on launch pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. It is targeted for a six crew, May 14 launch to the International Space Station. http://flametrench.flatoday.net/
The X-37 program, while originally a NASA initiative, is now led by Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office officials, which expedite development and fielding of select Defense Department combat support and weapons systems. AFRCO officials are currently working on the X-37B program, building upon early development and testing conducted by officials from NASA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Air Force Research Laboratory. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123199790
Angie Blair, an Air Force spokeswoman for the project added, “that the X-37B will be operated by contractors under the direction of Air Force Space Command’s 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron.”
The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_14924089?source=rss said the launch was being done by the Centennial-based United Launch Alliance. This will be United Launch Alliance’s third launch of the year and the 21st Atlas V launch in program history. http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/.
Featured above is one of, “Trevor Paglen’s “I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to Be Destroyed By Me: Emblems From the Pentagon’s Black World.” Paglen, an “artist, writer and experimental geographer,” has assembled about 40 colorful patch insignia from secret, military “black” programs that are hardly ever discussed in public… Almost every patch has a Latin phrase at the bottom, e.g. Semper en Obscurus, or “Always in the Dark,” the motto of the Air Force’s Special Projects Office.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/opinion/08iht-edbeam.1.9872586.html
On this AFRCO patch, ” The Latin at the bottom of the patch translates as “Doing God’s work with other people’s money.” The image is part of the http://www.naderlibrary.com/index.htm.
The Air Force interest in military spaceplanes stretches back nearly 40 years from the first Aerospaceplane program and Dyna-Soar/X-20 program (late 1950s-early 1960s); to the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization’s Single-Stage Rocket Technology program that built the Delta Clipper-Experimental (DC-X) experimental reusable spaceplane. http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/launch/msp.htm
From a 1999 Report via http://www.globalsecurity.org/space/library/report/1999/99-154.htm “The Air Force must quickly develop doctrine and command relationships designed to maximize the contributions routine space access brings to the joint warfighter. Doctrinal constructs for the effective use of USAF expeditionary aerospace power will help ensure our nation maintains its lead as the preeminent aerospace power. This paper specifically uses the near-future advent of Reusable Launch Vehicles and their implications for an Expeditionary Air Force as an illustration of how future Joint Force Commanders may effectively bring aerospace power to bear in the battlespace as a combined, synergistic whole.”
Basically, 11 years later America is about to officially weaponize space, or should we say at least for the first time, admitting it.
The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle will provide a flexible space test platform to conduct various experiments and allow satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be efficiently transported to and from the space environment where it will need to function. Read the X-37B fact sheet. The X-37B will also prove new technology and components before they are committed to operational satellites.
“The X-37B is an important step in the effort to make space access more routine, affordable, and responsive,” Mr. Gary Payton, Air Force Under Secretary for Space Programs, said. “The technologies and concepts of employment that are proven by the Orbital Test Vehicle will be folded into development programs that will provide capabilities for our warfighters in the future. http://www.dodlive.mil/index.php/2010/04/air-force-bloggers-roundtable-air-force-set-to-launch-first-x-37b-orbital-test-vehicle/
Just how important could the X-37B in defending our nation?
Columnist Charles Krauthammer reiterates President Obama lackluster nuclear policy at WaPo, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/08/AR2010040804507.html-
Under President Obama’s new policy, however, if the state that has just attacked us with biological or chemical weapons is “in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT),” explained Gates, then “the U.S. pledges not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against it.”
Besides our horrible policy on deterrence, officials are warning that the U.S. is being subject to increasing threats.
WASHINGTON, April 20, 2010 – Ballistic missiles are an increasing threat to the United States, and the Defense Department must keep up with them, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy said today. James N. Miller, speaking about the department’s Nuclear Posture Review before the Senate Armed Services Committee, said several nations are developing nuclear, chemical or biological warheads for their missiles.
The threat to the U.S. homeland is most acute from states such as North Korea and Iran, Miller said. “Neither has yet acquired ICBMs that could reach the United States, but both are working to acquire and/or develop long-range ballistic missile capabilities – including space-launched vehicles – which include many of the necessary technologies,” he said.
“The exploration and use of outer space … shall be for peaceful purposes and shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interest of all countries, irrespective of their degree of economic or scientific development. …prevention of an arms race in outer space would avert a grave danger for international peace and security — Prevention of an arms race in outer space, United Nations General Assembly Resolution, A/RES/55/32, January 2001. (PDF Document)
Whether we are militarizing space for peaceful purposes, attack purposes or economic purposes; the X-37B is set for blastoff today, which in total irony is designated Earth Day.
Viewing the Launch Online: A live simulcast of the TV broadcast will be available here http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Multimedia_Webcast.shtml on the ULA Web site, at 7:32 p.m. EDT or follow http://twitter.com/ulalaunch.
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