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Classified X-37B Space Plane Breaks Space Longevity Record

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the staying-power dept.

Space 123

itwbennett (1594911) writes "A little-known U.S. space plane quietly broke its own space endurance record this week as its current unmanned mission surpassed 469 days in space. What it was doing up there for so long is a secret closely held by the Air Force, but Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an authority on satellites and launches, thinks it's serving a similar role as the space shuttle by carrying a science or intelligence payload. 'I believe it's testing some kind of experimental sensor for the National Reconnaissance Office; for example, a hyperspectral imager, or some new kind of signals intelligence package,' said McDowell. 'The sensor was more successful than expected, so the payload customer asked the X-37 folks to keep the spacecraft in orbit longer.'"

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Looking for (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#46608517)

a Malaysian airliner perhaps

Re:Looking for (2)

NVW55V (994264) | about 6 months ago | (#46608585)

Maybe. Probably not.

"The space agency solicited proposals in 1998 for projects that would push the boundaries of space development and exploration, and later awarded Boeing a $137 million contract for the X-37"

That's a bargain. Most commercial passenger jets cost more than that.

Re:Looking for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609373)

Most passenger jets carry hundreds of lives on them. This is an unmanned vehicle. Lives cost money

Re:Looking for (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46610283)

They do? Eliminate them, saves heaps of money!

Re:Looking for (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 6 months ago | (#46611003)

So, are you advocating shooting everybody on planes to save money?

Re:Looking for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611607)

"Can I get all my frequent flyer miles in advance, please? Thanks."

Re:Looking for (5, Informative)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 6 months ago | (#46609563)

...awarded Boeing a $137 million contract for the X-37... That's a bargain. Most commercial passenger jets cost more than that.

Ah, the hopeless naivete of someone unfamiliar with government contracting for military and aerospace programs.

The first four years of the program actually cost $192 million [wikipedia.org] , though to be fair Boeing "contributed" a nominal $67 million of that, presumably with the expectation of future contracts if the program continued. (Not if it was successful, necessarily, just as long as it continued. And the $67 million probably included significant in-kind contributions of labour and materials, where Boeing would 'bill' itself market rates for parts and labour, rather than their actual internal cost.)

In 2002, Boeing picked up a subsequent $301 million government contract; their investment paid off quite handsomely. In 2004, the X-37 became a classified DARPA project, so we don't really know how much more it cost over the last decade, but I would be shocked if the total program cost didn't run into ten figures. The first X-37 mission didn't occur until 2010.

So no--not a 'bargain'. Two modest-sized, unmanned, robotic space vehicles (space drones) at a quarter billion each, plus whatever secret development costs accrued between 2004 and 2010. It's a neat technical achievement, and putting drones in space is certainly less costly than putting warm bodies up there, but don't delude yourself by thinking that it's cheap.

Re:Looking for (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46609031)

Looking for? Or shot it down?

Re: Looking for (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609147)

And I'll bet you believe Bush did 9/11 and the government invented AIDS to kill off gays and blacks and all sorts of other bullshit like that. Take your tinfoil hat and stick the pointy end up your ass, moron.

How rude! (1, Troll)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46609247)

You make your hat into a point? What out for lightning! Learn a little about static discharge, and keep yourself well grounded.

And I'll take that bet. I could use a little cash.

Re:How rude! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609973)

You goddamn pricks think you can mod me down into posting restrictions?! Fuck yourselves sideways! What the hell you think sockpuppets and proxies are for? You want me to do like the spammers do, fine.

Re:Looking for (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46610049)

X-37B's secret mission? Proof of concept. See if fly-by-wire aircraft can be hacked remotely. Perfectly plausible in today's post 9/11 world where everything is top secret. And it seems to have worked. Somebody should track the two and see if they were in line of sight of each other, not that they would have to be. The signal can be relayed to another bird above the area.

Wait a moment (3, Insightful)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#46608529)

Space longevity record"

Theres been (unmanned) stuff up in space for longer than a few years before, what record?

How about those Voyagers now in (or not) interstellar space? Their missions have beem over 30 years and still going

Re: Wait a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608533)

Da plan... Da plan. Boss

Re:Wait a moment (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608549)

Its all about being able to land again in the future and then take off for another mission.

Re:Wait a moment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608597)

Space longevity record"

Theres been (unmanned) stuff up in space for longer than a few years before, what record?

The record for reusable/recoverable space vehicles.

Re:Wait a moment (5, Funny)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 6 months ago | (#46608995)

The summary just says it broke its own space endurance record.

But it gets better: tomorrow, it's going to break its own space endurance record again!

Re:Wait a moment (2)

Chelloveck (14643) | about 6 months ago | (#46609733)

So when this story is re-posted tomorrow, don't you dare call it a dup! It's a brand new story of the plane breaking its own record again!

Re:Wait a moment (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46609955)

wtf is dup? did you mean derp?

Re:Wait a moment (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | about 6 months ago | (#46609063)

Space longevity record"

Theres been (unmanned) stuff up in space for longer than a few years before, what record?

How about those Voyagers now in (or not) interstellar space? Their missions have beem over 30 years and still going

I believe they mean a record for a reusable, recoverable vehicle.

Re:Wait a moment (2)

rthille (8526) | about 6 months ago | (#46611283)

Did you not see Star Trek? The voyagers will come back!

Re:Wait a moment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609851)

This isn't a satellite. It's a reusable aircraft like the space shuttle. And it is unmanned. Both these things are actually first, and the reason why it is a record at 469 days.

Re:Wait a moment (1)

distilate (1037896) | about 6 months ago | (#46611657)

Bullshit! Buran was unmaned on its first flight. the only thing new is the longer duration

Re:Wait a moment (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 6 months ago | (#46610335)

I'd like to see Voyager handle reentry through Earth's thick atmosphere and land gracefully on a runway. THAT would be a sight to see. Voyager 2 technically survived going through the rings of Saturn, but even that managed to take out several instruments (even though, to save someone's career that's not the official reason why they mysteriously failed immediately after)

Introductions... (2)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | about 6 months ago | (#46608537)

Negotiating First Contact?

Re:Introductions... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46609013)

Or Alienating First Contact.

Heard from the bridge of the emissary ship:

They're not ready ambassador. This sentient race's exploration of their own universe is limited to remote activity and they've no settlement on even their own primary satellite.

Want to check back in 80 quargs?

At least it's on our side! (4, Insightful)

GuitarNeophyte (636993) | about 6 months ago | (#46608539)

Have you noticed that not too many years ago, Americans would hear about some neat new technical military thing and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's on OUR side!" And now, they just expect it to be used for domestic purposes.

Which side are you on? (1, Offtopic)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 6 months ago | (#46608755)

As usual, the hoboroadie is way ahead of the curve.
I figured out my government was being run by criminal fucks in 1978. The evidence has been piling up in massive toxic heaps ever since.

Re:Which side are you on? (4, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46608905)

The difference between now, and before snowden is simple. Before Snowden, the majority of the public thought the government and politicians were up to no good, and would bend the spirit of the law and constitution to suit their purposes. After Snowden we now know that the Government and politicians think their goals are just and righteous enough that they feel justified in just flat out ignoring the law and the constitution. That's an entirely different game.

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

Sentrion (964745) | about 6 months ago | (#46608951)

But now Obama is overhauling how the NSA collects data. The public will believe that privacy rights have been restored, and the NSA can start remotely monitoring the mics in our cellphones. I'm not going to wear a tinfoil hat, but am I really paranoid or schizo if I wrap my phone in tinfoil?

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46609061)

AND people still believe that lying sack of shit....why?

Re:Which side are you on? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 6 months ago | (#46610309)

Well, what's the alternative? Whether head or tail does not matter, the coin is still the same.

Re:Which side are you on? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46611257)

dont blame me, I voted Kodos

Re:Which side are you on? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 6 months ago | (#46609425)

...am I really paranoid or schizo if I wrap my phone in tinfoil?

Only if you want to use it...

Re:Which side are you on? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46609967)

i covered the camera on my laptop and cell phone with black static cling. its easy to nudge if I want a photo and otherwise helps me out. not sure yet what to do about the microphone.

Re: Which side are you on? (1)

Type44Q (1233630) | about 6 months ago | (#46610089)

Find a phone that you can run Replicant on...

Re: Which side are you on? (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 6 months ago | (#46610133)

what is replicant

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 6 months ago | (#46609297)

"After Snowden" -- people didn't call me a conspiracy theorist for saying what Snowden revealed. That's the main difference for me.

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46610041)

"After Snowden" -- people didn't call me a conspiracy theorist for saying what Snowden revealed. That's the main difference for me.

Evidence is the difference between facts and conspiracy theories. If something really is true, and not a conspiracy theory, evidence will leak out. “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.”

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609227)

1978? BC or AD? Welcome to adulthood.

Re:Which side are you on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611641)

> 1978? BC or AD? Welcome to adulthood.

11,978 HE [wikipedia.org]

Re:At least it's on our side! (4, Insightful)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 6 months ago | (#46608759)

Have you noticed that not too many years ago, Americans would hear about some neat new technical military thing and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's on OUR side!" And now, they just expect it to be used for domestic purposes.

And yet, many of these same people will attack you and call you all sorts of names if you dare suggest reducing the Federal government's size, power, & scope. They just seem incapable of connecting the growth of government size, power, and scope to the government abuses of their civil rights that they're becoming increasingly aware of.

The cognitive dissonance is astounding.

All governments get their power from the citizens. The more power the government has, the less power and protections from government abuse the individual citizen will have. All governments get their wealth from their citizens. The more wealth the government has/spends, the less wealth citizens will have or be able to borrow for homes, businesses, schooling, raising kids, giving to charities, etc.

Strat

Re:At least it's on our side! (4, Insightful)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about 6 months ago | (#46609295)

That's a very simplistic view. And obviously flawed. It neglects to consider that the government gives as well as takes.

It gives freedoms: Without those government-run police departments, what is there to stop someone stabbing me in the back and robbing me, or breaking into my home, or just murdering me over a petty dispute or because I offended them?

It gives wealth: Reliably maintained roads, free or subsidised schooling and healthcare, welfare. True, it has to take the wealth first, but when done properly that means taking a fraction of the wealth from those who can spare it and giving to those who need it more.

There are certainly examples of governments acting oppressively, and many of governments acting incompetantly or being over-influenced by special interests. But that doesn't automatically mean all government is bad. It's a matter of finding the right balance and setting up the right limits.

Re:At least it's on our side! (0)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 6 months ago | (#46609527)

It neglects to consider that the government gives as well as takes.

Pull that bus over right now.

Government gives *nothing*.

All government is, is force. It has no wealth of it's own. Anything it "gives" in entitlements/benefits/bread & circuses/etc comes from taking wealth, under threat of lethal force and imprisonment, from those who worked to produce it and transfer it to someone else or to some other group.

TANSTAAFL

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

Even more so with layer upon layer of government red-tape, incompetence, ideological social-engineering foolishness, and bureaucracy.

All that government has and all the powers it exercises are voluntarily granted to government temporarily, with the sworn & solemn agreement that the government will not exceed the bounds of that which is loaned to them, in exchange for the privilege of exercising those agreed-upon powers using the agreed-upon wealth exclusively for the agreed-upon purposes.

Furthermore, the citizens have a right and a duty to alter or abolish a government that violates that trust.

Government is a necessary evil. The less the better.

A powerful central government, necessary to support and administer/enforce a centrally run government entitlement infrastructure, even if run benevolently *now*, only requires a change of politicians/party for that same power to be used for corruption, oppression, and tyranny.

Strat

The government does give (2)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 6 months ago | (#46609871)

The government gives, but not in the way you think.

The government provides the entire framework for an orderly society, without which we would not have roads, air travel, financial intercourse, or a level of personal, financial, and societal stability and safety every single person in a first world country takes for granted every day.

That's not to say that the don't screw some things up, or misplace priorities, or have management issues - but without government there would be anarchy.

Re:The government does give (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 6 months ago | (#46610573)

Its important to point out that anarchy is not inherently bad. It is actually a utopian ideal, 'human nature' is what fucks it up.

Re:The government does give (1)

rthille (8526) | about 6 months ago | (#46611307)

Anarchy is something you could use to describe what happens on the floor of a rainforest, or between the bacteria in your gut. I'd rather not live in a society like that. It's not just human nature, it's evolved nature due to limited resources and game theory.

Re:At least it's on our side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611109)

Excuse me for pointing this out, but why the fuck is the parent comment modded "Troll"??

WTF mods????

It's obviously a cogent, honestly presented, well thought-out and written reply I've seem much worse pieces from highly respected & tenured professors at major colleges and universities.

Is defending your ideology worth it when you're forced to suppress/censor/silence opposing viewpoints because you cannot refute an intelligent challenge to their basis?

What does that say about the validity of your ideological beliefs, that they cannot withstand a challenge?

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46609625)

That's a very simplistic view. And obviously flawed. It neglects to consider that the government gives as well as takes.

I was arguing with someone over a similar issue when I decided to just look at US federal level government spending - including off budget things like Social Security. For about half the life of the US (140 years from 1790 through to 1930), the federal government was able to provide all these things for about 2-3% of estimated GDP with the exceptions of three major wars that happened over that period.

Now that is a bit over 20% of GDP. We're just speaking of the federal level, state and local governments do their own thing too.

So what is that spending providing now that is so much better than what they were providing before?

Re:At least it's on our side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611347)

You know what spending is providing now: Huge amounts of corruption and waste.

In 1940, the federal spending budget was $9 billion. In 2007, it had reached $3700 billion. That's about 8.5% yearly inflation over the 67-yr period. But wage inflation and the population increase (x2.3) over that same time period only resulted in about 3.5% yearly. In other words, the federal government is expanding much faster than we can afford to pay for it.

That's why the government budget is now padded with 25% to 40% borrowing. In 2012, the top 4 budget items (SS, military, DHSS (incl. Medicare/Medicaid) and debt interest consumed just over 100% of the earned revenue. Nobody will cut those top 4 items. The rest of the government runs on borrowed money, that means borrowed time. And however outrageous that seems, it must only get worse. Much worse.

This is how empires COLLAPSE.

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

rthille (8526) | about 6 months ago | (#46611381)

Interesting. You included Social Security in the expenses, and divide the time range up in 'before SS' and 'after SS'

Also, look at health and life expectancy before 1930. Now realize that huge amounts of the federal budget is SS & Medical (Medicare & Medicaid). If we didn't care about the indigent old, or the fact that national health insurance is more efficient (see what we spend on medical vs other advanced countries and the outcomes), and we didn't feel the need to be the world's police and paid down our debt, we could probably get back to ~4-5%...

Re:At least it's on our side! (2)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#46611605)

You included Social Security in the expenses, and divide the time range up in 'before SS' and 'after SS'

The first thing is because Social Security is part of the expenses. Due to the games played and depending on whether it's running a surplus or deficit that year, money from Social Security is dumped into or taken out of the general fund.

As to the second observation, Social Security was implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt who also was the first president to really cut loose with federal level spending in peace time.

Also, look at health and life expectancy before 1930. Now realize that huge amounts of the federal budget is SS & Medical (Medicare & Medicaid). If we didn't care about the indigent old, or the fact that national health insurance is more efficient (see what we spend on medical vs other advanced countries and the outcomes), and we didn't feel the need to be the world's police and paid down our debt, we could probably get back to ~4-5%...

Even if we did "care about the indigent old", the opinion "that national health insurance is more efficient" or a Cold War level national defence, the budget cuts would still leave the US in pretty good shape to deal with these issues.

There's this magic thinking that spending money on something is the same as getting results. I'd say the current state of the US government's functioning indicates this need not be the case.

Re:At least it's on our side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611311)

Without those government-run police departments, what is there to stop someone stabbing me in the back and robbing me, or breaking into my home, or just murdering me over a petty dispute or because I offended them?

The right to keep and bear arms.

Your ignorance or statist conditioning is truly astounding.

Re:At least it's on our side! (2)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 6 months ago | (#46609331)

Reducing the governments "size" isn't the issue. Most of the money collected is used for real things and goes into the pockets of real people -- like retiring or sick folks. Do we have to point out that we've got roads and electronics now and that "infrastructure" is more involved than clearing a path for a horse to poop on?

We need transparent government and no secret is a good secret. If something cannot be explained to the public -- it should not be done. We need real representation and election reform.

The problem is not the size -- it's the corruption. You translating this issue into your pet libertarian solution has nothing to do with the actual problem. Wealth disparity and representation; Everything flows from that. If I don't have money my vote is pointless.

Reduce the Federal Government and who builds the roads and redistributes the wealth? The States won't because they will compete with each other to give the wealthy and business a "better deal." The marketplace won't, because without enforcement and regulation, money always pools and you end up with one company providing all of one good or service and maximizing scarcity, not efficiency.

Government gets it's power from the Citizens IF there is representative Democracy -- if there isn't -- then government tends not to give a fuck what the population wants. That's the same here as it is in Russia.

Re:At least it's on our side! (2)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46610239)

People would take you more seriously if you didn't get your market analysis from Carl Marx.

Left to themselves, markets do not end in monopolies. Only Marx makes this preposterous, a-historical claim. It's one of his greatest failed predictions.

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 6 months ago | (#46610451)

We have the example of America to show what happens when markets are left to themselves. The successful do whatever it takes to make a monopoly or oligarchy including taking over the government.
America has the government it has due to market forces.

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46610591)

Surely you can point to one or more of these common monopolies?

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

dryeo (100693) | about 6 months ago | (#46610717)

Sure, I need to buy gas today. 6 brands that are priced identically and seem to perform exactly the same. When the price changes, it changes for all at almost the same time. When Russia does something, the price of the gas in the service station tanks changes price everywhere by the same amount. .

Re:At least it's on our side! (4, Insightful)

Sentrion (964745) | about 6 months ago | (#46609381)

The problem is that the powers that be know how to milk the cow from both ends. If you reduce the power of government then they just exercise more power and control via global corporatocracies. While on paper existing as separate organizations, what we have today in the US and many other parts of the world is a government-industrial oligarchy, with executives exerting influence on political leaders in ways that the average citizen cannot endeavor or even understand. Our anti-trust laws discourage companies from secretly colluding on price, but all the major competitors in any industry tend to be members of the same industry trade organizations that represent their interests to our legislators and to the general public with PR campaigns, which can be overt or subliminal. Even across non-competing entities, the boards of directors of public companies are occupied by CEOs of other Fortune 500 companies. When you look at who the bureaucrats are at our nation's most powerful offices, you often see a revolving door from industry to political office and back to industry again. The regulators have a vested interest in looking out for the top players in the industries they are supposed to regulate, as they will earn for themselves top executive roles as long as they don't ruffle any feathers during their political tenure. Our system of government is growing more toward feudalism or the guilds of Florence, where wealth and power is not obtained from individual effort (ie meritocracy) but through cronyism or gaming our legal/political system.

For the global corporatocracy to succeed they do not need totalitarian authority, just a "controlling interest", a skill they mastered in the manner of which they control and profit the most from publicly listed companies while owning less than 50% of outstanding shares. In fact, by promoting the appearance of freedom and "unfettered" competition they exercise more control than an authoritarian regime, since totalitarianism comes with very high operating costs.

Totalitarian regimes often face a united opposition. The cooperation of Western democracies with the Soviet Union against the Fascists of Europe is one example. The cooperation of Communists and Nationalists against French colonial rule in Indochina is another. After victory the alliance typically splinters, and the previously united parties usually return to their natural opposition to each other. Global corporatocracy makes use of totalitarianism where it exists, such as in Fascist China (along the trade coast, not to be confused with the communist agricultural peasant interior of China), but thrives where it can exert influence over seemingly oppositional political movements, such as with the Republican and Democrat parties of the United States. The majority of corporations that contribute to political campaigns tend to donate almost equally to candidates from both parties.

For the most part there is no conspiracy. It is the natural product of the consolidation of mature industries where there is little or no government action to prevent companies from growing "too big to fail." Those who are successful at climbing the corporate ladder eventually discover how the game works, which is a system of reciprocity - quid pro quo, and spin doctoring.

I consider corporatocracy to be a significant threat to democracy and freedom for individuals, especially harmful to those who have humble ambitions such as to raise a family, enjoy their privacy, reap the fruit of their own labor, and live healthy. What is needed is a balanced approach to limiting the power of "Big Government" while also limiting the power of global conglomerates. But if I had to live in a nation with a "Big Government" I would prefer a benevolent, people-friendly society like what is found in Scandinavia, not an equal-opportunity plantation where I might have a shot at retirement so long as I never get sick or if I'm promoted high enough up the scrotumpole to afford my in-network deductible.

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

rasmusbr (2186518) | about 6 months ago | (#46609721)

The government is such a wonderful thing to have for owners of large businesses that if it didn't exist they would invent it almost instantly and impose it on everyone else.

Citizens struggling to get rid of the government are about as likely to succeed as people with shovels trying to reshape the Earth into a cube.

Re:At least it's on our side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46611415)

That's hysterical. You're trying to use the specter of domestic surveillance to bolster your general small govt beliefs, as if reducing the number of EPA inspectors, or the number of SEC compliance auditors, will stop the NSA from reading our emails. No wonder people call you all sorts of names when you spew this shit; it's nonsensical.

Re:At least it's on our side! (2)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | about 6 months ago | (#46608857)

Have you noticed that not too many years ago, Americans would hear about some neat new technical military thing and think, "Wow, I'm glad that's on OUR side!" And now, they just expect it to be used for domestic purposes.

I know. This thing is awesome. Just think about the advances we're going to see in vacuum cleaner and dishwasher tech from this project.

Re:At least it's on our side! (1)

Vitriol+Angst (458300) | about 6 months ago | (#46609287)

I'm sure someone might also notice that a lot of dart boards have pictures of a billionaire or banker on them, rather than Saddam Hussein or Bin Laden.

We've grown up a bit and the same old tricks won't work again.

Re: At least it's on our side! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609951)

Because the terrorists have won. They won as soon as W declared war on them instead of being brave and saying "We will not allow fear to erode our freedoms" and moving on. Instead we are now encouraged to live in a constant state of fear. Ie, the terrorists have won.

I know what it's doing... (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46608567)

Kicking ass!!!

Srsly I love these space drones. Should have had them 20 years ago.

That is all.

Re: I know what it's doing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608631)

It's costing 137 million, that's what! And it's giving the bird ( ya know, the finger ) to our competition, saying, ours is better than yours! If you believe it only cost 137, I've got some swamp land you'll also be interested in... I'd believe 137 thousand million! Nothing costs millions these days. It is cool though. I can't imagine it's for a new sensor, that's easy enough for the NRO to launch otherwise. It would need to be physically returning something useful from the sensor back to earth, so that sounds false, but who knows?

Re: I know what it's doing... (4, Informative)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46608663)

I'd say there's even money that it's essentially a remote control X-Wing fighter.

It's a scaled down version of what was originally a concept for a next generation shuttle. It's /5 scale from the original design (this all comes from wikipedia)

I can't imagine it *not* having some sort of weapon or ability to grab/move anything it wants.

I think it's very important to have these for security reasons. We're to the point where a criminal kingpin could afford to surreptitiously (Russians) put up some sort of ballistic projectile disguised in a different payload or launched independently. Even a crude space weapon can ravage a downtown.

These drones rock IMHO.

Re: I know what it's doing... (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 6 months ago | (#46608839)

New TV show:

Next gen tow truckers.

Re: I know what it's doing... (1)

knarf (34928) | about 6 months ago | (#46609009)

"I, for one, will not go to sleep under the light of a communist moon"

Swap "communist" for whatever you want.

Rapid Capabilities Office (1)

hoboroadie (1726896) | about 6 months ago | (#46608789)

"The Air Force now has a policy of acquiring capabilities rather than missions."

Thus spake Jonathan McDowell. Sounds like somebody needs a fatter booklet of blank cheques.

Re: I know what it's doing... (1)

aliquis (678370) | about 6 months ago | (#46608835)

It obviously carries a cloaking ray powerful enough to hide a passenger jet.

Re: I know what it's doing... (1)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 6 months ago | (#46608985)

Or it shoots black holes at them.

Another blow for Redmond (0, Flamebait)

jovius (974690) | about 6 months ago | (#46608573)

It did it without windows.

Re:Another blow for Redmond (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608859)

It did it without windows.

Oh, so this was rated Flamebait?

So ah, who out there in the peanut gallery is standing up right now, defending the use of Windows 8 with your rating here?

Oh, so suddenly there's not a single soul standing...I see how you are...

Re:Another blow for Redmond (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46609081)

Flamebait? probably not, but offtopic yes

dauda (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608601)

Have you noticed that not too many years ago,
lioa [lioa.net.vn]
on ap [lioa.net.vn]
sua lioa [lioa.net.vn]
sua on ap [standavietnam.vn]

UFOs, parallel space projects exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608615)

this is horseshit if you think it is all we know. We met with an alien called Krill in the 40s, where the fuck do you think the PS4 comes from?

Re:UFOs, parallel space projects exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609663)

ps4 is a crappier pc, can't these krill give us something at least as good as we already had years ago.

Obviously a Space Prison (-1, Troll)

lucm (889690) | about 6 months ago | (#46608621)

They said 'unmanned', not that it did not carry ennemy combattants waiting for a place at Gitmo or in Yemen torture camps.

Now let's see Stallone escape from that one.

OR...... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608747)

...it's failed and they can't get it down.....

Entertainment News, Latest News about Celebrities (-1, Offtopic)

vikesh310 (3596587) | about 6 months ago | (#46608763)

Overallsite.com is a big unique collection of celebrities news, entertainment news, latest news and much more..... www.overallsite.com

Re:Entertainment News, Latest Spam (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609681)

Another Dice Holding?

What exactly is the record? (0)

Chrisq (894406) | about 6 months ago | (#46608777)

Unmanned satellites have certainly worked for much longer than this. And the voyager probes have been going since 1977!

fr1st psot (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608791)

Paid for by taxpayers for those who... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 6 months ago | (#46608873)

lie to the taxpayers... fitting the general theme of government today.
Where can I find a really good paying job that as an employee I control the companies bank, as I please?
Military industrial complex addiction wims???

Okay, seriously now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608901)

Why the fuck is everything the US government produces always classified? Why can't the things the US taxpayers pay to create actually be shared with the US taxpayers?

Re:Okay, seriously now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608915)

We really need a Constitutional Amendment banning any and all secrecy by the government. This shit has gotten completely out of control and virtually none of it is used for "good" despite what the propaganda says.

How about an amendment that says nothing may be kept secret except during times of war formally declared by Congress using the words "declare war", and never under any circumstances may anything remain secret for more than ten years. Any and all crimes that may have been kept secret will not have their statute of limitations begin until after all secrecy has been ended.

This way, we will no longer have all these evil "black programs". All taxpayer-funded research and development will go back to benefit the public, not fester in some secret military lab. The 10-year limit will prevent endless wars, because we've never had a just war go longer than ten years, only the twisted and unjustified ones ever go on that long. And unless Congress has the guts to sign their names to the words "we declare war on", there can be no secrecy at all. No "authorization to action" weasel-words, no "defer to the President". They have to stand up and declare war in no uncertain terms.

And the statute of limitations is specifically to end the current practice of simply classifying anything that is embarrassing or criminal. Did you know that the landmark legal case that originally created the "national security" legal precedent actually had nothing to do with national security at all? It was simply the military trying to cover up their mistakes and avoid liability for gross negligence, so they classified the evidence and told a judge it would endanger the entire nation if they had to divulge the evidence. Half a decade later when it was declassified, we learned the truth. However, by then we had half a decade of legal precedent to uphold, and the legal system really doesn't care that the precedent was built upon a lie and has never actually been proven in any way since then.

Re:Okay, seriously now... (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 6 months ago | (#46609071)

Since the time of kings and before, leaders of men have employed spies, who by their very nature are shrouded in secrecy.

There may have been some historical examples of open and honest governing bodies, but for whatever reason, they were not selected for. I fear this will continue until there exist no more factions within our populace to divide amongst.

Thus there are two possibilities for this opentopia you describe, where man keeps no secrets from other men: There is either one human left or we are all fighting an interplanetary battle.

Re:Okay, seriously now... (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46609193)

Thus there are two possibilities for this opentopia you describe, where man keeps no secrets from other men: There is either one human left or we are all fighting an interplanetary battle.

False dichotomy. Past performance is no guarantee of future behavior.

Maybe eventually we will evolve to be more cooperative. Being competitive was a survival strategy when there were lots of resources. Maybe it'll just tend to kill us off, now. If you fight too much over a place you tend to ruin it.

Re: Okay, seriously now... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46610597)

Uh, would you rather all military assets be open source? Really? Even the classified stuff is copied by our enemy's, or at least they try... Military tech is one area I'll disagree with you, sorry... The military doesn't bother me much, as most of my family served proudly. The military has a real job that keeps them busy working on what they need to be working on. The dozens of three letter agencies, (of which NSA is only one), though, are probably worthy of having that same military pointed at them... There is no way to be both totally secure and free at the same time. That's been well known four hundreds of years. I chose FREE, how about you?

Funny how (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46608983)

the shuttles, after 1/3 of their deigned capacity were deemed worthless, but this sucker keeps on flying...

Re:Funny how (2)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | about 6 months ago | (#46609221)

Civil expenditure vs military expenditure. It's sad that it takes a military budget to do stuff, when a civilian space agency could do just as well.

The reality is that when asked the question 'why are you doing this?', the answer in one case will be a fuzzy 'important defence stuff' and people will stop asking questions, while in the other "researching technology for future manned space flight" and then people will start questioning it even more and each want to be a stake holder in the budget.

Re:Funny how (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 6 months ago | (#46611493)

It doesn't matter whether it was a Civil or Military expenditure, what matters is that the project was funded. There is also a manned version of this vehicle in the works. If you need billions to pursue technology research you are more likely to get your funding if your project can pitched as having any military related applications.

Why do people comment on Secret projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46609067)

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and an authority on satellites and launches really needs to keep his speculation of whats happening up there to himself. Unlike the NSA projects made for spying on it's own people, there are some scientific/intelligence projects that do need the cloak of secrecy.

Re:Why do people comment on Secret projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46610437)

Don't be such a paranoid patsy.

Unless you believe that this academic is being fed classified information, his speculations are just helping us regular rubes understand what our government is doing. From his talking head position, he's got no predictive power that competing nation states lack. He's not divulging any secrets by pointing out what any aerospace fan boy with a telescope and orbital charts could imagine.

Manned X-37 (2)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 6 months ago | (#46609329)

Take a look at this [suasnews.com] , and it's back from 2011. Boeing is calling a 6 person X-37C, yet I believe that the Air Force probably already has a flight-capable (and probably tested) one or two man "modual" that can put in the experiment bay. After watching Astrospies on PBS, someday we will probably find a couple of space suits stuffed in a dark closet somewhere in 30 years, with an X-37 mission flag, Air Force officers involved in "training"...there's no way the AF will give up US-based manned space travel, even if just for intelligence and access to the ISS.

Secret? I love secrets! (1)

Ceriel Nosforit (682174) | about 6 months ago | (#46609975)

It's parking right next to com sats (It loves those Middle-Eastern ones.) and listens in on leaking RF.

Gallium nitride is a beautiful thing! =)

Gravity tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46610149)

They are testing advanced artificial gravity and force control. They use it for efficient propulsion too. I think this thing cut a precisely measured chunk off that asteroid that flew by recently and brought it back to earth and hurled into the atmosphere at precisely the right velocity as a weapons demonstration to Russia. All calculated to make sure it exploded in the atmosphere so it didn't impact the surface.

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