I am also blown away by the American Federal budget - this is a classified military space program. How much does one of those cost ?!
In a similar vein as our Carriers, we have 123 military satellites. Since the X-37 is maneuverable and reusable, it might be cheaper in the long run than more satellites.
However, in "How the United States Could Lose a Great-Power War" (RAND, 2019), we read:
> [...] For now, U.S. forces appear poorly postured to meet these challenges. That's because both Russia and China have developed formidable networks of missiles, radars, electronic warfare systems, and the like to degrade and potentially even block U.S. forces' ability to operate in the Western Pacific and Eastern Europe to defend allies and partners in those regions. China in particular is developing increasingly impressive capabilities to project military farther afield, including through systems such as aircraft carriers, long-range aviation, and nuclear-powered submarines. Together, these forces have tilted the military balance over places such as Taiwan and the Baltic states from unquestioned U.S. dominance to something much more competitive.
> The US keeps losing, hard, in simulated wars with Russia and China. [...]
The United States is done fighting Great Power wars. No one talks about it publicly at all because doing so would shatter America's self-image as the Lone Superpower. The military the United States has now is quite capable of wrecking any nation that is not another Great Power. I say wrecking and not defeating, because as should be obvious from the last three decades, the United States has zero interest in winning wars. It really doesn't even bother trying - too expensive, and too hard. Instead the United States has made it very clear that if you displease it too much, and aren't another Great Power, it will trash your nation, and then either walk away or hang around stomping on you every so often.
The unspoken assumption is that there never will be a "real" war with China or Russia or any other 'near peer'. Whether that ultimately turns out to have been a foolish approach remains to be seen. But, it does leave a lot of money floating around to be siphoned off by various parts of the military-security industry, because Americans think they're paying for a Cold War military, when what they're actually getting is a military good for knocking down weaker opponents and then kicking them, but that barely even tries to pretend it can do anything else. (Except via propaganda, which is really cheap compared to manpower and materiel.)
Look how well it worked out in Libya, Iran, Iraq, etc.
The reality is that you can't go from a strongman authoritarian to a magical well functioning democracy overnight (or maybe even ever) without a a few generations of change. It is really heart breaking to see it.
The problem in those places seems to not have been, how hard is it to get rid of the established order, but rather, how hard is it to create a new order which preserves people's freedoms.
The Belt and Road is partially an attempt to deal with the risk of the US pulling out of providing global security, but they need a LOT more time, and somewhat ironically because of COVID-19 they may have run out. While the US is spending trillions to move away from global trade very very quickly.
Or in geek-speak. We have the Death Star, as we are the Empire. The Empire still lost.
We all know what 'the spice' is.
The system accumulates damage over time, maintenance can't fix everything, eventually it's not worth it to keep it operational. Looking at Trump and Biden I'd say that time is near.
Yes, because despite Wikipedia saying that the Cold War ended in the 20th century, we still have thousands of nukes ready to launch at each other in five minutes. There may someday be unconventional war, proxy war, or cyber war, but there will not be a great war unless it begins and ends with a nuclear holocaust.
Alas, I worry that the secret space program is merely the rare not-totally-worthless exception to the overall rule.
The exception: there will most likely be something useful coming out of a space program. May or may not be useful enough to offset the costs, but it's not going to be a complete waste.
That aside, fundamentally those weapons come in play against whom ? Obviously not most of nato Europe Whom are ideological allies or dependents. can’t be against Russian or China because they have nuclear weapons or even North Korea, India Pakistan. So that leaves South America and the Middle East parts of asia. I guess (and it’s off the top of my head) the value of achieving conventional military supremacy maybe an over kill (no pun) against moderate military powers and not so advantageous against nuclear powers. But at the end I’m not a renowned military strategist, i just observe that German and japan’s influence on the world stage is not backed by a massive conventional military supremacy
If it doesn't, and if people switch to another currency (see for example the attempt by Iraq and Libya to create the African Dinar to replace US $), the USA will rapidly become a third-world country.
It is currently over-valued as a nation primarily because of the threat of force it uses to keep its currency in peoples hands.
That is highly questionable.
The doller was half way to be the dominant currency before WW2.
> The dollars for military budget and the dollars raised by a school fundraiser are not even the same currency.
They are actually.
> And we can print dollars, hell we just printed 5 trillion in a couple weeks.
That's true in a narrow sense. When monetary demand changes you increase supply, with that money however you can not simply finance arbitrary expenditure. If monetary demand decreases, the central bank will pull that money back out.
And the Saudis were fine with doing so when it was against US interest in the 1970s.
As a percentage of the GDP, the health industry is a larger proportion than military production, but as a percentage of the US Federal budget, the military consumes roughly half.
That said, I agree that the american healthcare market is predatory and has way too high margins. But they are only part of the "problem". Doctors make a lot more money in the US than almost anywhere else, and pharmaceutical companies often get more than half their global revenue from the US market alone.
You see the same thing with the U.S. military. The U.S. spends far more than any other nation on the military, yet look at what happened when Yemen fell apart - the Chinese military evacuated Chinese citizens, the Indian military evacuated Indian citizens, the Pakistani military evacuated Pakistani citizens, and the U.S. government told U.S. citizens that they were on their own.
Every other developed country on Earth gets more down while spending half as much per person. Your system is just corrupt garbage.
To your second point: US has very low interest rates, money are cheap, nobody wants to work, thus services are expensive.
To your third point: system is not corrupt, but over-regulated garbage.
To your general sentiment: my point is not related to the actual cost of services.
It especially isn't related to the US healthcare system, which again, costs the US government - not the US consumer who pays astronomically more then any other developed nation - about twice as much per capita as other developed nations, while providing less services to the public.
Whether or not healthcare might consume all the remaining spending is irrelevant when your system manages to be twice as expensive per capita while excluding tens of millions of people from any coverage at all.
An emergency appendectomy - life saving surgery - costs $15,000 unless you manage to find a surgeon who's in your healthcare network, available right then, and you also don't get unlucky enough that anyone in that operating theatre while you're unconscious is also in your healthcare network.
Your system is corrupt garbage.
https://www.epi.org/publication/books_wheremoneygone/: "With appropriate inflation adjustment, it appears that total real education spending per pupil increased by 61% from 1967 to 1991." And that's from 1995. Real expenditures have grown enormously in the last four decades, and the results are to be left as an exercise to the reader.
France and UK spend more in the G7, Canada, Germany, Italy and Japan spend less.
US defense spending
I was surprised to be honest. US spending on defense is way down on most of the 70s and 80s (6%ish, lowest was 78 with 4.9%)
Did you have a chance to compare US schools to other countries’ schools? By any other standard US schools are lavish. The only reason schools have bake sales to raise funds because of bureaucracy and because parents will pony up anyway.
Wrong comparison. It is cheaper than the previous military spaceplane: Shuttle.
Wouldn't it be cheaper (more humane as well) to "colonize" earth? For the next 100 years,even with full on warming , coastal areas and certain eco systems will be lost but you will still no matter have most parts of the big continents in tact. The land there exists now can support humanity even with 10x the population (if made arable). I mean things like beef and single story housing would certainly be rare.
How about building new cities by the rockies and great planes and build things like the hypertube (whatever it:s called) to make emmigration easier. Have friendly eco-immigration policies to avert a humanitarian and geopolitical crisis. Heck, even "colonize" the sahara,antarctica or ocean beds! Half your problem is solved on earth once you desalinate ,irrigate and build viable transport.
In these macroeconomic terms, there is 1 viable way to save life from destruction - open up new frontiers that have characteristics which are MORE attractive to humans than counterparts on Earth.
In practice, that means the moon. The moon is smaller than Earth, but the accessible area is possibly greater because of lack of oceans and lack of existing use. It doesn't end there. Lower pressure and temperature gradients mean that you can dig MUCH deeper. With similar original compositions, industrial mineral availability (in terms of raw elements) from the moon vastly outstrips the Earth. Some asteroids can be cherry picked, but depth of the resource is more shallow.
Much high-tech lithography requires vacuum, which is produced artificially on Earth. Space gives you that for free. We don't even really know what's possible industrially with diffusion and surface tension effects, because gravity cannot be eliminated on Earth for factory-type work, at all. Combined with the mineral abundance, you have what you need for a self-sustaining super advanced and practically limitless robotic industrial society. That is the draw. Other things that fleshy humans need are a cost, which the other benefits have to offset.
Materials from the moon can be delivered to low-Earth orbit at extremely low physical effort compared to delivery from Earth's surface. Rockets are improving such that human trips to space stations from Earth could be economical, but a cislunar robotic presence must be able to sustain activities beyond there.
This is the only option for saving the planet, and we are lucky that the richest person on the planet shares the view that Earth should be light industrial and residential... but ultimately, narrowly specialized in environmental tourism. All we have to do is move the primary economic engine into orbit.
The energy economics alone doesn't work out. We might be able to make a robot economy in space, but we can't have a significant human economy in space.
There are also a bunch of other benefits but they pale in comparison to this one.
We don't know if there's any other intelligent life in the universe, or how common it is. The one thing we do know is that we haven't found any.
There could be many reasons for this, and one of those is the Fermi Paradox (great filter).
Whether this is a real thing or not we don't know, but by establishing sustainable settlements in space, we hedge against the idea of us dying out via ourselves, asteroids, etc.
Just seeing them would give us a huge technological leg up. Right now we don't know that interstellar travel is readily feasible, but if we did know that then it would suddenly make sense to spend 100 times as much on space tech
Considering what a bunch of jerks we are to each other, I don't think aliens would want us roaming around freely
The thing is, I don't think it'd matter technologically. I don't think a kardashev 1 civilization could ever catch up to a kardashev 2 civilization.
Maybe once they've reached a "technological plateau" it becomes mutually assured destruction? But instead of nukes, it's targeted gamma-ray bursts? Who knows...
Yes it’s more achievable to build a pod on the antarctic (we’ve done that) or the ocean floor, but we should also see what we can do outside of our bubble.
I personally think Venus cloud stations are a better target, but why not try them all?
We learn great things and enable wonderful tech like the internet and GPS when we do huge projects like this, so why not?
My point also ws that it's not zero-sum. As in, "we" don't need to colonize mars,but I see no problem in doing so as long as it isn't done by sacrificing people's lives on earth.
Again, a lot of it is forward planning - extra resources, hedging against future threats etc. I'd rather they start active planning in case we have to, rather than waiting until it's almost too late (like we have with some issues on Earth as it stands).
Balancing investment at the expense of present day spending is a standard knife-edge for governments around the world. It's a sucky balance to have to strike though.
The spaceplane was originally a NASA project that DoD picked up after most development was done, and it launches from commercial rockets (eg they've used SpaceX rockets to launch these before).
I would assume that the payload (experimental sensors and components, most likely) are more expensive than the amortized-per-mission cost of the vehicle.
If I were to lick my finger and lift it into the wind, I'd estimate this flight cost between $0.5B and $1.5B, and most of that would be the gear that they are testing, given that the spacecraft itself is fully reusable.
 I believe that this is actually true if you combine the Navy and Marine Corps and don't count helicopters
is full of people who don't really understand the scale you're working with with federal money
I think it was drilled into me by the age of 12 to avoid "very" in written English in order not to obviously oversell, and yet here it is from a professional writer working for the BBC
Because generally, they don't really care enough to implement systemic bias about another country.
Then, if you care enough you can investigate the issue yourself and come to your own conclusions. In not, then at least you know that it's controversial.
I see what you did there.
I also assumed many of the silly rumors of antigravity or whatever planes are intentionally manufactured as part of the PR so if some information of an actual plane leaks it'll be buried with the noise.
This way, the formal channels could say "oh nonsense, that's just silly rumours, The Official Secret Plane is this one over here".
It also puts outsiders at a true zero knowledge position since there's no indication as to what is and is not nonsense.
Then you could have say, a top scientist defecting, taking all the secret plane information with them, write detailed books and lectures exposing all of it and people would just be like "oh, look at that silly conspiracy kook over there! how goofy"
Pretend it's already happened and there's scientifically sound diagrams, correct math, etc... Nobody would be able to find it among the garbage.
At least that's how I'd structure it.
You'll get X-37 for half a page and then a bunch of click baity speculation
I guess you're partly right tho. Less on the X37-B, but there are a few "Area 51" and "Tonopah" articles. Certainly active disinfo and infiltration of the UFO/Truther/free energy movement was a thing. Used exactly as you describe, to drive people off the scent of actual tech, and discredit them.
For your viewing pleasure I've included a few links to UFO videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9UbGpJQ054 [particularly interesting Cali find. looks like a jet but makes NO sound and no woosh/boom and no shock diamonds]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFN7KofHpcY&t=1s [the Beaver Utah video]
But I guess you could be right. Considering if this is a military disinfo op. How hard would it be to fake these videos? Probably very easy.
It gets difficult tho when you have real people (like Antonio Urzi, and Slattery, and Sam Chortek and Jimmy Chappie) coming forward with video and saying we saw this and filmed it. The reason is, because if those guys are part of a counterintelligence campaign, they've just publicly revealed themselves, so it should be easy for a group to put some surveillance on them and work out are they really disinfo agents, who are they meeting and communicating with, etc.
I agree that anon videos could be faked, but I'm not sure how I'd run a disinfo campaign that includes public figures, some of whom keep producing videos, and do so in front of large groups of people. Any ideas?
BTW, I love MacArthur Park. Beautiful area of LA.
The armed guard let us on the base so we could head to Dryden Flight Research Center (now the Armstrong Flight Research Center). In those days I figured you just tried to do a thing until someone said you couldn't. It didn't occur to me that there would be a problem driving in to Dryden.
The guard asked a lot of questions, but, pre 9-11, we had no problem getting in.
Dryden has a small museum, a few hangars. One hangars has the original M2-F1 lifting body.
I distinctly remember this space plane (or it's predecessor?) being towed down a small road near Dryden. I guessed it was some sort of X-plane. We were on a sort of mini-tour at that point, being shown around, and I believe there was an attempt by the tour-guide to distract us from that plane.
> ... test the idea of using microwave beams to send solar power to Earth from space ... Build a big solar array in orbit, the idea goes, and it could collect enough sunlight (unfiltered by atmospheric effects or clouds,) to generate a powerful beam of microwaves. A collection station on Earth would then convert that beam into useful power ... down the road he said he hopes it will lead to a futuristic clean power source that could benefit everyone — and give the U.S. a new near-monopoly over a global energy supply.
They are talking about beaming power to drones, but thinking a bit larger, I wonder if it be feasible to have a high power laser transmit energy to a satellite and then have a cluster ala Starlink act as an relay to direct the power potentially anywhere on earth. Maybe you could power airplanes from space? Sounds like Sci-Fi, but apparently all the components and technologies exist, and people must have been working on it for a while, when they just letting the public in on it.
Maybe Ronald Regan's Star Wars program is finally getting implemented.
Are seeds the baseline in testing biological effects in space?
Asking as I would of thought that testing seeds in space had been one of the most tested avenues and with that, a known consistent form of biological matter that can be compared with.
Certainly if you wanted to test a space shield, you could test with something that can contain a few seeds and see how the results compare. Though as one of the tests is for energy transmission, then seeing if such equipment increases biological impact in proximity is worth knowing for future plans. Seeds certainly robust enough and can crudly test them by growing them as well, so I can see many reasons for them on many missions.
I also wonder if they still have the "crew return" insert for the ship. Early in its life it was envisioned as a way to bring the full crew of the ISS to earth.
It has to be more than that, now - I'm pretty sure more than a hundred just went straight there after graduating from USAFA a few weeks back
EDIT: And, in fact, the one publicly-released payload I'm finding was a test of a new heat pipe.
Based on what this talk indicates, the US Government is doing some questionable(...) things in terms of signals intelligence in space.
We probably won't know what X37-B is doing in space for years but I imagine they will have at least tried to do some big brother exercises. The US/Western Intelligence community effectively treats all communications as fair game - they always have (e.g. MI5 were capturing encryption keys from neutral embassies using microphones in the ~50/60s) they just possess the means to do it efficiently at large scale now.
I imagine a large part of its mission is also just testing military equipment that can't go on the ISS but that's not as sexy.
Keeping it parked in a hangar when it's not needed would get embarrassing. Leaving it in orbit makes it seem to be doing something, particularly if you pretend it's all hush-hush.
Even uBeam does work, it's just not very efficient
But if you aim it somewhere other than the receiver, it's a weapon, no?
* My absolute favourite one was "Sleeping next to a mobile phone is correlated with lack of sleep" hmmm I wonder why
Thank you for implicitly putting me in the company of 5G alarmists.
We're not talking about 5G here.
It doesn't need to kill people to have utility as a weapon.
Just look at how the unexplained alleged "sonic attacks" on the US embassy in Cuba played out.
I also presume there's potential for damaging sensitive electronics.
I'm not in objection of any of this, it's a military mission in nature. It just seems obvious to me that anything capable of beaming useful amounts of energy from space to power drones or anything portable on earth also has potential for direct use as a weapon. The energy density must be relatively high for things having such limited area to collect it.
But workable options are in fact possible when you switch from ultrasounds to beaming EM radiation.
Its akin to saying we should stop funding nasa be ause who needs space travel.
Also please stop glorifying a set profession as some kind of ulturistic calling. Theyre in it for the money and prestige, and frankly, wouldnt be there otherwise.
If you want to thank someone, thank the delivery guy, the supermarket clerks, the flight attendants, or the casual staff out of the job right now.
These people are feeling the brunt of this. These people are the front line.
Not a single one of them has done it for financial gain or prestige, and for the most part the driving force really does seem to be a genuine desire to help people. (I’m based in the UK, going into medicine for money or prestige would be a fool’s errand.)
Please don’t make assumptions about things with which you are clearly unfamiliar, and if you must do so please do not assert them as facts.
$3.6 trillion goes into US healthcare, providing healthcare workers - including doctors and nurses - with among the highest salaries and benefits vs their peers globally. You have to go to Switzerland to find comparable industry pay.
That is five times more than what is spent on the military. You can't slash enough spending out of the military to make a dent in that gigantic expense problem.
It's not the healthcare workers suffering in the US system, it's the patients that are suffering from paying the wildly inflated salaries in the field.
If you want a more fair system, you'll need to start by reducing incomes in the industry to levels you see in Britain, France or Germany. That means slashing doctor and nurse pay across the board. You have to shift the system toward the benefit of patients and away from the workers in healthcare. You'll also need to smash the US education system for healthcare simultaneously and remove the guild protection racket that makes becoming a doctor so expensive (you can't normalize US healthcare pay without normalizing the education costs).
You have to get spending down to near $2 trillion to create a system comparable to what you see in Western Europe, so you need to slash $1.5 trillion in spending. That means you need to fire massive numbers of doctors and nurses, squeeze resources (ration service as in all universal systems), and slash pay for every single worker in the industry.
A hazard bonus as part of one of the stimulus programs for front-line workers? Sure why not. None of it is going to be paid back anyway, it's all going to be perpetually monetized by the Fed. They deserve it in my opinion. That's very different from discussing the cost problem in military vs healthcare however. We need to remove maybe $150-$200 billion from the military to get down to a more reasonable spending level for what the US should be doing. You don't fix the biggest problem in healthcare - the extreme spending per capita - by adding more spending.
You're conflating 'spending' with Value, Efficacy, Cost, Profit and Greed.
Its a far more complex subject when it comes to all 'spending' within the Government budget than just Cash Burn Rate/Volume.
There's a very good reason the major news outlets in America never directly compare America to other Developed countries, and only ever compare it to undeveloped or "evil" countries (China, Sudan, Iran, Russia).
You might want to check the numbers on that.
The US is at or very near the worst among OECD countries in: infant mortality, life expectancy at birth, healthy life expectancy, rate of obesity, disability-adjusted life years, doctors per 1000 people, deaths from treatable conditions, rate of mental health disorders, rate of drug abuse & rate of prescription drug use
> Mysterious US military aircraft
Journalists need to stop using adjectives like "mysterious" when writing about the X-37B. While the aircraft's technology and missions are classified, there is nothing mysterious about the existence of the plane itself.
Considering there isn't even a journalist attributed on the article, I'm not sure we should be presuming any were even involved in its publication.
That does leave a hole when articles include opinion content mixed in with general facts.
Like one of the other more recent launches was Intruder 8, a pair of satellites used by Naval signals intelligence to detect ships using time of arrival from radio transmissions.
Compared to that, what's the new mission of the X-37B? I'd say it's pretty mysterious.
Hell, I'm tempted to write him in this time around.
Another Trump vote, then?