wardialer
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X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:14 pm

There is supposed to be a scheduled mid June landing of the OTV-2 in Vandenberg AFB.

I just want to know how would the civilian type ATC controller can communicate with the unnanned space orbiter to separate its landing pattern from normal commercial aviation traffic?? Would the High Altitude ARTCC controller would handle its glide pattern into the VBG area or all comm frequencies are ONLY handled by its own Vandenberg ATC?

And does anyone know if the landing pattern to VBG would be landing from the ocean or landing from the east? What would be the OTV-2's nornal landing pattern? Does anyone have a map? O looked on Spaceflightnow and I coulnt located it.

No exact date yet.
 
zanl188
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:50 pm

Why would a controller speak to an unmanned returning spacecraft using RF? I can think of scenarios but none apply to this situation.

Whomever is controlling this mission probably takes control of the necessary airspace themselves, maybe with a landline to the appropriate ATC agencies.

OBTW: Very cool that we still have a reusable winged spacecraft that makes runway landings. Now if only we knew what its mission was.....
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rfields5421
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:30 pm

Quoting wardialer (Thread starter):
how would the civilian type ATC controller can communicate

I would expect it to be a lot like how civilian ATC communicates with UAV being flown in California, Arizona and Texas almost daily.

The unmanned aircraft has to have a two-way radio for communication with the remote pilot. Using that link to communicate from the craft to the local ATC via normal VHF would be easy technically. So would using a landline link that works at the ATC center just like another aircraft radio - only better reception.

However, one thing about returning spacecraft - the necessary airspace is cleared. The civilian ATC only monitors what NASA / USAF is doing with the craft - and watches for any GA or other civilian aircraft violating the TFR area. There will be chase planes in the air - probably supersonic T-38s - so ATC could communicate with them once the spacecraft enters normal airspace.

Quoting wardialer (Thread starter):
What would be the OTV-2's nornal landing pattern?

I would expect it to be much like the Space Shuttle.
 
wardialer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

I do not not think the mission is CLASSIFIED as it comes on the N2YO Tracking system like here. Designation is USA-226.
http://www.n2yo.com/?s=37375

Think about it, If it would be CLASSIFIED, then the tracking system would not be able to track it in the first place.

And I wonder what the control avionics control room looks like. Probable the standard Heads UP Display with a few modern modifications. Is it similar to a UAV drone control room to remotely glide this thing in?

[Edited 2012-06-03 11:35:37]
 
zanl188
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:43 pm

Quoting wardialer (Reply 3):
I do not not think the mission is CLASSIFIED as it comes on the N2YO Tracking system like here. Designation is USA-226.
http://www.n2yo.com/?s=37375

Think about it, If it would be CLASSIFIED, then the tracking system would not be able to track it in the first place.

Plenty of amateur sky watchers track classified spacecraft in low earth orbit, it's not that hard to do provided you have plenty of patience and reasonably good visibility.

Think about it, if it wasn't classified we'd know what the mission was.....
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wardialer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:55 am

So correct me if I am wrong here.

The "mission" itself is Classified, but that does not mean we could not track the orbitor online for the general public to see.

Am I correct??

I just find it odd and strange that we can able to track it even if the mission is Classified.
 
jgarrido
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:16 am

I don't know but just looking at pictures of the x-37 it looks like it returns to earth as a glider much like the space shuttle. That's one big difference between it and other UAVs. I don't know the details of how the space shuttle reentry was handled but there isn't a lot of reason for it to be contact with ATC. There would be a very limited profile that reentry vehicle would fly and would be able to fly. ATC isn't going to give them a vector for traffic or have them level off or a little bit. I would imagine there's sterile airspace along that profile plus a wide margine for error and ATC keeps all aircraft under their control clear of it.
 
sweair
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:11 pm

What might be the mission? As the orbit is filled with spy satellites it should not be something like that IMO. Maybe they are mapping the competition up there?  
 
bigjku
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:37 pm

Quoting sweair (Reply 7):
What might be the mission? As the orbit is filled with spy satellites it should not be something like that IMO. Maybe they are mapping the competition up there?

If someone made me guess the X-37 exist to be a rapidly reconfigurable payload bus for various types of military sats with the focus being on securing space based assets in an environment where others have anti-sat capability. If you think about the time lines here the X-37 was moved from NASA as a research project to the DOD roughly in time with China's move to demonstrate an ASAT capability.

2004- X-37 to DOD through DARPA
2005- First public test shot of a Chinese ASAT missile
2006- USAF officially moves to develop X-37B
2007- First full up ASAT test by China

If you look at some of the requirements the DOD has put on the X-37 it becomes a bit more clear in my eyes. The thing has to have a high delta-v to allow it to move around in orbit and also make it a much more difficult target. It is supposed to be able to refuel satellites itself which will allow them to keep moving and be much more difficult targets without diminishing their overall life through fuel depletion.

I think the X-37 is all about securing space assets as best as possible from ASAT's. Though it probably has other functions its reason for being is that it can help keep crucial satellites alive during a conflict as well as fill some of those functions itself with a configurable payload.
 
sweair
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:56 pm

Quoting BigJKU (Reply 8):
If you look at some of the requirements the DOD has put on the X-37 it becomes a bit more clear in my eyes. The thing has to have a high delta-v to allow it to move around in orbit and also make it a much more difficult target. It is supposed to be able to refuel satellites itself which will allow them to keep moving and be much more difficult targets without diminishing their overall life through fuel depletion.

Would it be possible to bring some kind of weapon with it? To take out your opponents satellites? Small battle rams?
 
Slcpilot
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:08 pm

I don't know much about orbital mechanics, or even space war-fare beyond a layman's understanding.

It seems to me what the X-37B may or may not be doing in orbit is unremarkable in that it's mission could have been done by any space platform. It's "special" capability is that it can return to earth, something most other platforms cannot do. Whether it can change it's orbit, refuel or monitor other platforms is not related to it's abilty to return to earth.

Is there a payload that is so valuable that it merits a whole return system? Maybe so. Could it be a "bus" for multiple micro sats? Who knows?

Thoughts?

Cheers!

SLCPilot

PS, For what it's worth, I witnessed the launch of the X-37B from about 10 miles to the east of the pad at 10,500'. It was pretty cool!
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bigjku
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:02 pm

Quoting sweair (Reply 9):
Would it be possible to bring some kind of weapon with it? To take out your opponents satellites? Small battle rams?

Sure, if you wanted to. Whatever it can carry in weight and space you could stick on there.
 
wardialer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:16 pm

Today this morning, there was numerous passes over Somalia, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan....

According to here -
http://www.n2yo.com/satellite/?s=37375

It states that this is a CLASSIFIED mission. Every morning, the same the time, the path passes through these high profile countries which I listed above. But what I find odd and VERY VERY strange, that if the Mission is CLASSIFIED, then why would they let the general public track this thing?

So in theory, that makes me to believe that it is NOT a spying experiment. If the mission were to be a spying mission, then the online satelllite tracking system would not be even displaying the OTV-2 orbital data in the first place.

[Edited 2012-06-05 10:18:42]
 
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ssteve
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:51 pm

Quoting wardialer (Reply 12):
So in theory, that makes me to believe that it is NOT a spying experiment. If the mission were to be a spying mission, then the online satelllite tracking system would not be even displaying the OTV-2 orbital data in the first place.

Plenty of other classified missions here:
http://www.n2yo.com/satellites/?c=30

I'm sure the military has thought about ways to make satellites stealthy, but that doesn't mean they all are.
 
wardialer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:33 pm

Thanks for that list. Im suprised that the USA-234 is shown active on its orbital data. Shocking to be honest with you.
This is a classified NROL spy satellite.

Interesting that its orbital tracking data is not blocked.
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 7:56 pm

Quoting wardialer (Reply 12):
It states that this is a CLASSIFIED mission. Every morning, the same the time, the path passes through these high profile countries which I listed above. But what I find odd and VERY VERY strange, that if the Mission is CLASSIFIED, then why would they let the general public track this thing?

How do you want to prevent hobbyists from tracking the satellite? All you´ll need is clear sky, an accurate clock and a good telescope with equipment to measure the azimute and vertical angles. If you got a number of measurements (with the corresponding times included), you can calculate the orbit. Most orbits of satellites are known and even published in a UN database to prevent satellites from interfering with each other.

Jan
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wardialer
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RE: X-37B Landing In Vandenberg AFB (OTV-2)

Tue Jun 05, 2012 8:31 pm

To All thanks for the info. I have the correct time set to an atomic clock system.

But under the 5-Day Predictions on the N2YO website, are the passes in Local Times or UTC times?

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