Military Space Ops

#1
Chaps,

Given the increasing relevance of Space to military ops, and the burgeoning number of nations involved in such activity, the recent landing of a USAF X-37B made me think that there may be interest in a generic Military Space thread. I would suggest that this could include pure military as well as commercial support to military Space ops.

Anyway, without further ado, one of the USAF's 2 unmanned X-37Bs returned last week from Orbital Test Vehicle Mission 4 (OTV-4) after a record breaking 717 days and 20 hrs in orbit! Although officially a trials mission testing advanced thrusters and various materials in space, most of the mission was highly classified. Moreover, the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) characteristics are similar to ISR satellites and allow close flybys of Russian and Chinese assets.




In reality, the Shuttle style cargo bay presumably allows any number of payloads to be carrier as long as they meet weight and dimension limits. Interestingly, Boeing are quietly developing a larger X-37C variant which would be able to carry up to 6 astronauts in a pressurized crew cargo bay module.

A fifth USAF X-37B mission is planned for later this year.

Meanwhile, China is developing its own Shenlong spacecraft which, from pics taken during aerodynamic test drops, appears similar in configuration to the X-37B.


Anyway, feel free to comment on Space stuff (preferably no Star Wars/Space 1999 etc pics :) ) or allow the thread to slide down the ratings as interest dictates.

Regards,
MM
 
#6
Good thread. As a layman, it seems we are increasingly reliant on orbital systems. Satellite imagery as a first port of call for reconnaissance, RPVs communicating by satellite as the mainstay of recce (and strike), 5th generation aircraft sharing battlespace data by satellite link, satellite comms for troops on the ground and ships at sea. It seems obvious that knocking out our satellites would be an enemy priority on day 1 of any peer to peer war, and I'm guessing the US wants the capability to do that to its opponents. That's before anyone considers the possibility of basing offensive weapons in space, which I know the US looked at in the Reagan era.
 
#7
They'll need to do something with the space suits though... they won't recruit any death dealing Space Marine Corps types looking like "super beekeeper men"...
 
#8
So I presume that we're about to enter an era of the space powers bimbling around orbit in robotic vehicles, slapping remote control limpet mines on each other's satellites.

Maybe the US has just finished the job before China or Russia get their capability together...
 
#9
So I presume that we're about to enter an era of the space powers bimbling around orbit in robotic vehicles, slapping remote control limpet mines on each other's satellites.

Maybe the US has just finished the job before China or Russia get their capability together...
One would suspect that any object being attached to a satellite would alter its orbiting characteristics in a detectable manner. However, flying something small in relatively close proximity .....?
 
#10
They'll need to do something with the space suits though... they won't recruit any death dealing Space Marine Corps types looking like "super beekeeper men"...
just you wait till space bee's attack, who'll be laughing then eh?

 
#11
:rolleyes: Ah, come on. How can we have a space thread without declaring that the RAF must look to an independent access capability, and insist that it funds Skylon for access, and a militarised LAPCAT (renamed "Mosquito" or "Vulcan", obviously) for prompt strike? Possibly, (in a nod to @Magic_Mushroom) making it a joint UK/Japanese project?


 
#12
So I presume that we're about to enter an era of the space powers bimbling around orbit in robotic vehicles, slapping remote control limpet mines on each other's satellites.

Maybe the US has just finished the job before China or Russia get their capability together...
Nations have had antisat capabilities for decades and China conducted an anti-satellite trial with a ground launched interceptor in 2007 to widespread condemnation. However, the X-37B has particular potential for such a role.

Additionally, readers may recall the USAF F-15C launched ASM-135 weapon.

One would suspect that any object being attached to a satellite would alter its orbiting characteristics in a detectable manner. However, flying something small in relatively close proximity .....?
Modern Space surveillance systems can track extremely small items.

Regards,
MM
 
#13
I drive past the Boeing Space and intelligence center everyday by my office - I always wondered what was going on in that hangar.

717 days...it has to have that solar panel/antennae fitted doesn't it? Interesting times with SpaceX having rockets re-landing on floating platforms, mini shuttles and probably some things we dont know about.
 
#14
So I presume that we're about to enter an era of the space powers bimbling around orbit in robotic vehicles, slapping remote control limpet mines on each other's satellites.

Maybe the US has just finished the job before China or Russia get their capability together...
Blow something up, and suddenly you've got thousands of projectiles coming at you v fast. Or lots of projectiles orbiting the earth next time you go up. Not ideal.
 
#15
Blow something up, and suddenly you've got thousands of projectiles coming at you v fast. Or lots of projectiles orbiting the earth next time you go up. Not ideal.
Sandra Bullock's definitely not a fan of such Space debris!

Regards,
MM
 
#18
Apart from lack of oxygen in space, radiation, extremes of temperature?

They're worried about getting the celebratory ice-cream on their shirt.
I'm sure there's plenty of air on and around the runway,
 

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