Here is an impressive photograph that an amateur astronomer took in June/July of this year.
1. Amateur astronomers like this guy.
2. Nation states who take clandestine photos of other nation's spy satellites. These pictures are better, but you haven't seen them.
For everything else, there's some guy working in the lab who's like, "oh, you want a picture of our satellite? Of course, there's like 40 of them on our press site. Do you need more? I can ask around and see if anyone's taken selfies from interesting angles." So there's no open institutional force behind it. So the only reasonable outcome of natural market forces is that amateur astronomers create the best pictures of satellites in orbit.
Amateur astronomer isn't a slur either, if that was your point. Take a look at the galleries on cloudnights, a lot of it wouldn't look out of place on NASA/ESA homepages.
In the photo perhaps they are either closed, or open with something hanging out of the payload bay, or some other configuration, making the brightness the way it is???
(Also, solar panels. Shuttle didn't use them but if this thing is spending years in space it is probably using solar panels too. They would be mounted at 90* to the radiators, creating a T-shaped structure with different albedos that should be identifiable in even a blurry picture.)
It broke it's own record of "time-in-orbit" and as far as spaceflight records go this is one of the least relevant. Once a spacecraft gets to orbit it is very easy to stay there almost indefinitely.
Hell, the ISS breaks the record for "continuous habitation in orbit" every day.
Same thing... I don't think the ISS is gonna land that trick, as far as I know... I'd be stoked to find out I'm wrong about that, though.
This is a re-usable spaceship, albeit one humans don't get to ride in.
* intercepting and deorbiting space junk
* fixing friendly or sabotaging unfriendly operational satellites
* future weapons platform for offense or defense (say intercepting ground-launched sat-killing missiles)
* on-demand surveillance (with ordinary spy satellites you have to wait until your orbit is in the right spot, adversaries will know when your satellites are above them and adjust their activities to avoid surveillance)
* more routine human activities in LEO (spacecraft assembly, staging for higher orbits or interplanetary activities, shuttling between stations in LEO)
* Netflix and chill with our alien overlords
* Prep for mining activities further out
This cannot shuttle between LEO stations and switch orbits to imitate multiple observation sats unless those sats and stations are very close in terms of orbits.
It doesn’t have to return to orbit. Switching from an orbital trajectory to a parabolic intercept path would be feasible, and open valuable tactical space.
You can't gain delta-v by inducing additional drag on the craft.
Delta v a measurement of a vector, not a scalar. The fact that its kinetic energy with respect to Earth is decreasing does not mean it isn't gaining delta v. In addition to the obvious (lowering your apogee) you can also use this delta v to change your inclination. It's not "free" of course- you need to do other engine burns to both put the craft into the atmosphere and then another burn to reestablish orbit once you're out the other side. But it isn't clear to me that this is less efficient than just doing the burns without the atmospheric assists.
Yes and no. You've changed your velocity by 4km/s. You didn't gain usable ∆v, and you've just lost your spacecraft.
∆v means few related things. One, the amount of velocity change your mission plan requires. Second, the velocity change your craft is capable of using its own propulsion. Say you're plotting Mars orbit insertion. It requires (via ) 1.5 km/s ∆v. But you're a cheater, and decided to use aerobraking to bleed off (guessing a number) 1km/s of that velocity. This means you can complete this maneuver with a craft that only has 500m/s ∆v at the point of insertion. This does not mean the craft has gained ∆v.
 - https://www.reddit.com/r/space/comments/29cxi6/i_made_a_delt...
Thinking "you're in space so can go anywhere" makes as much sense as thinking it's easy to go from Canada to the top of the Everest just because they're both on land.
I think you only need very little delta V to plunge back into the atmosphere from LEO.
The question is how much lift vs drag + delta V to lower and the raise you periapsis.
I think the space shuttle only had about 250m/s delta v once the yellow tank was exhausted, so those 250 m/s were enogh to complete both rasing the periapsis and then lowering it to de-orbit.
Think of a space-glider with one tip of its wings pointed straight down and the other straight up, if it has very little drag and a lot of lift, it could use its wings to maneuver north-south, change its orbital inclination, then when it gets out of the atmosphere again, once it reaches apoapsis it will spend some fuel to raise its periapsis again above the atmosphere, but KSP intuition is that if drag is low enough and lift is high enough, it could be better than to do an inclination change in vacuum.
As for mechjeb in particular, I never found it all that useful except when calculating rendezvous. I could do it myself, but I don’t want to bother with a protractor and calculator.
Timing a 30s burn when the probe takes 15m to get the signal is rather irritating.
You could have a few shuttles up there idling in various orbits ready to do a small number of bigger maneuvers to achieve a mission.
Alternatively you could have shuttles doing a whole lot rather slowly with electric propulsion.
Alternatively, thinking about the Earth's magnetic field, what if it had a big current loop that could be activated to generate a force and change orbit.
I realize that the magnitude of these effects are probably too small to be significant, but could you in principle use them to repeatedly change orbit around earth, provided you have an abundant energy source?
magnetic field? yes. - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrodynamic_tether
AFAIK there is not a single element that is valuable enough to offset the gigantic costs of mining in space and moving bulk back to earth. The economics just don't work.
Besides that's hardly a surprising statement. Of course they are. And Space Force isn't the start of some new space warfare agenda. It's just formalizing and likely just going to add administrative distractions for existing well-funded and productive engineering teams.
Two (or three) stage rockets are just so much more efficient.
Tim Dodd (The Everyday Astronaut) is just a very good speaker on all space-related topics. Him and Scott Manley (with a healthy dose of Kerbal Space Program) are incredible teachers about space.
Maybe officially, but I definitely know people who were working on a Space Plane program in the early 90s.
It was a big decision gameplay-wise, as capsules were much cheaper to research and purchase, but the reusability of mini-shuttles meant you didn't have to buy a whole new crew vehicle for each shot. So if you could scrounge up the money to buy a few in the mid-game, you could free up big bucks in the late game that would otherwise have gone towards buying all those capsules.
And there were plans to mount a deployable wing thing on Gemini, making it something like a spaceplane.
Most kerbal realworld thing ever:
The only unique quality of this vehicle is that it can re-enter the atmosphere and then be launched again. Everything it does while in orbit, including grabbing something to bring back, could be done by something else not unique.
Yet, they have exercised its unique capability only three times, and the rest of the time kept it to activities that could be better done without it.
The alternative is that there really isn't much use for this thing, so they keep it parked in orbit between uses.
He has some good ISS captures too.
Also life support systems are heavy and that will cut into the delta-v budget of the craft.
I also won't be surprised if when self-destructing, such satellite will try to deliberately damage everything in its close vicinity.
If they exploded it wouldn’t it create more problems than it solves in terms of more flying debris they have to track as well as friendlies in the same orbital path? (Like when Iridium 33 crashed into a defunct soviet satellite.)
Anyway, who cares if the self destruct goes off? You're breaking the satellite anyway, and if you were really concerned, about attacker survivability, just launch a gun on board, like Salyut 3.
Cheap satellite does asymmetrical damage to space plane.
It could report the orientation and thus e.g. the telescope direction. But this can be done remotely, too, with a large enough telescope, maybe on the same orbit.
The "rusty" parts look like crevices between protective tiles being sealed with kapton tape - general protective material that handles well extreme environment, and is often used in consumer electronics, especially in places where high temperatures are expected.
>duct tape looking stuff on the wing leading edge
Looks like temporary protective coating of foam, for safe on the ground handling, to prevent damage to the wing leading edge. If the leading edge is anything similar to Space Shuttle's, it's hollow inside, surprisingly thin, and somewhat brittle. Any cracks or damage would cause risk of overheating during re-entry, thus need for extra protection.
Long term heat management hardware for space electronics. Among other things no doubt.
In short, "it gives Russia and China one more talking point about how the U.S. is the one 'weaponizing' space, even if that's not true," he said.
That's a huge potential downside. Like the Soviets believing in US first strike intent. Having this craft do odd things only reinforces belief the US is not operating in good faith at all times. And this, when manned spaceflight to the iss depends on international cooperation still.
the soviets? We are really going back, aren't we?