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Pentagon Launches Mystery US Spacecraft
#1
Pentagon Launches Mystery US Spacecraft




1:50pm UK, Friday April 23, 2010
Jonathan Robins, Sky News Online
A top-secret rocket has been launched by the US military amid rumours its purpose is to perform experiments for a space weapons programme.

Video here:http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-N...ry_Puropse


Officially the project will test a new space shuttle, the X-37B, that will look at safer and cheaper ways to return spacecraft to earth.
But the details of its payload, experiments and orbital operations have all been classified.
The real purpose of the mission could be to position satellites and other types of surveillance, according to military and security sources.
The launch is a military project being controlled by the US Air Force Space Command - not NASA.
A military use would explain why the Pentagon has invested up to hundreds of millions of dollars in the craft.
The vehicle should "provide an 'on-orbit laboratory' test environment to prove new technology and components before those technologies are committed to operational satellite programmes", according to the US Air Force.
Unlike current shuttles, it can remain in orbit for up to nine months, but cannot carry people.
The X-37B will eventually land in California, but no-one knows how long its first mission will take.
"In all honesty, we don't know when it's coming back," said Gary Payton of the US Air Force.
The spacecraft would aid "development programs that will provide capabilities for our warfighters in the future", he added.
Once in orbit the shuttle will be powered by solar panels and lithium-ion batteries.
If its flight is successful a second vehicle will be launched next year.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
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#2
DARPA Tested Hypersonic Glider Related to Quick-Response Global Strike System, and Then Claims to Have Lost Contact with It

April 24th, 2010 There has been a lot of coverage of the launch of the X-37b, but as the right hand was waving at us, did you notice what the left hand was up to?
The same day, the U.S. launched a Minotaur rocket that reportedly carried a Hypersonic Test Vehicle, which is a test platform for the Prompt Global Strike program. This is from DARPA:
Falcon HTV-2
The Falcon program objectives are to develop and demonstrate hypersonic technologies that will enable prompt global reach missions. The technologies include high lift-to-drag techniques, high temperature materials, precision navigation, guidance, and control, communications through plasma, and an autonomous flight safety system. Leveraging technology developed under the Hypersonic Flight (HyFly) program, Falcon will address the implications of hypersonic flight and reusability using a series of hypersonic technology vehicles (HTVs) to incrementally demonstrate these required technologies in flight. The HTV-2 program will demonstrate enabling hypersonic technologies for future operational systems through rocket-boosted hypersonic flights with sufficient cross-range and down-range performance to evaluate thermal protection systems, aerodynamic shapes, maneuverability, and long-range communication for hypersonic cruise and re-entry vehicle applications. Technologies developed under Falcon would also allow for a low cost, responsive Small Launch Vehicle (SLV) capable of launching small satellites into low earth and sun synchronous orbits and will provide the nation a new, small payload access to space capability. The Falcon program addresses many high priority mission areas and applications such as global presence and space lift.
I took a look around to see if there were any new (public) developments with regard to Prompt Global Strike.
This recent piece from the New York Times states that an early version of the system wouldn’t be deployed until 2014 or 2015, but that the full package wouldn’t be ready until 2017 to 2020:
The Pentagon hopes to deploy an early version of the system by 2014 or 2015. But even under optimistic timetables, a complete array of missiles, warheads, sensors and control systems is not expected to enter the arsenal until 2017 to 2020, long after Mr. Obama will have left office, even if he is elected to a second term.
But look back on the statement from U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on 11 April 2010 on Meet the Press:
We have, in addition to the nuclear deterrent today, a couple of things we didn’t have in the Soviet days. We have missile defense now, and that’s growing by leaps and bounds every year; significant budget increase for that this year, both regional and the ground-based interceptors. And we have prompt global strike affording us some conventional alternatives on long-range missiles that we didn’t have before.
We have Prompt Global Strike?
That’s interesting.
So, which is it? Is a Prompt Global Strike capability as far away as 2020, as we read in the New York Times, and other mainstream publications that mention the program, or is it, “We have prompt global strike”?
Now, DARPA claims to have lost contact with the Hypersonic Test Vehicle…
*wink*
So, what did it go on to do after DARPA claims to have lost contact with it?
Via: Space Flight Now:
A new Minotaur launch vehicle derived from retired missile parts successfully blasted off from the California coast Thursday, but officials lost contact with a hypersonic glider testbed for a U.S. military quick-response global strike system.

A small winged glider designed by Pentagon researchers was the payload for Thursday’s launch. The craft, called the Hypersonic Test Vehicle 2a, apparently did not complete all of its planned maneuvers to demonstrate new hypersonic flight systems.
“Preliminary review of technical data indicates the Minotaur Lite launch system successfully delivered the Falcon HTV 2 glide vehicle to the desired separation conditions,” the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency said in a statement. “The launch vehicle executed first of its kind energy management maneuvers, clamshell payload fairing release and HTV 2 deployment.”

The HTV 2a payload launched Thursday separated from the Minotaur high in the upper atmosphere at a velocity more than 20 times the speed of sound.
But tracking assets lost contact with the triangle-shaped craft 9 minutes after liftoff. “An engineering team is reviewing available data to understand this event,” DARPA said in a written statement.
After its release from the Minotaur third stage, the craft was designed to try out its aerodynamic control system and conduct sweeping turns to bleed off excess energy and demonstrate its cross-range capabilities.
The DARPA press release did not specify whether any of the test maneuvers were completed before controllers lost communications with the craft.
The HTV 2a was supposed to glide over the Pacific Ocean at more than 13,000 mph and splash down in the sea near the U.S. Army’s Reagan Test Site at Kwajalein Atoll.
The HTV program is managed by DARPA, a Pentagon research and development division focusing on high-tech demonstrations.
Officials say the HTV demonstrations were supposed to test enabling technologies that could eventually be employed by an operational system capable of prompt global response missions.
DARPA says the HTV craft features a high lift-to-drag aerodynamic shape, lightweight thermal protection structures and autonomous guidance, control and flight safety systems.
The HTV was built by Lockheed Martin Corp.
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#3
Obama Revives Rumsfeld’s Missile Scheme, Risks Nuke War


[Image: 080923-f-4321g-002.jpg]
The Obama administration is poised to take up one of the more dangerous and hare-brained schemes of the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon. The New York Times is reporting that the Defense Department is once again looking to equip intercontinental ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. The missiles could then, in theory, destroy fleeing targets a half a world away — a no-notice “bolt from the blue,” striking in a matter of hours. There’s just one teeny-tiny problem: the launches could very well start World War III.
Over and over again, the Bush administration tried to push the idea of these conventional ICBMs. Over and over again, Congress refused to provide the funds for it. The reason was pretty simple: those anti-terror missiles look and fly exactly like the nuclear missiles we’d launch at Russia or China, in the event of Armageddon. “For many minutes during their flight patterns, these missiles might appear to be headed towards targets in these nations,” a congressional study notes. That could have world-changing consequences. “The launch of such a missile,” then-Russian president Vladimir Putin said in a state of the nation address after the announcement of the Bush-era plan, “could provoke a full-scale counterattack using strategic nuclear forces.”
The Pentagon mumbled all kinds of assurances that Beijing or Moscow would never, ever, never misinterpret one kind of ICBM for the other. But the core of their argument essentially came down to this: Trust us, Vlad Putin! That ballistic missile we just launched in your direction isn’t nuclear. We swear!
Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld couldn’t even muster that coherent of a defense.
“Everyone in the world would know that [the missile] was conventional,” he said in a press conference, “after it hit within 30 minutes.”
The new “Prompt Global Strike” plan is a little different from the old one. It relies on land-based missiles, instead of sub-based ones. The idea is that these conventional missiles sites would be open to Russian inspection, and wouldn’t accidentally drop debris on a superpower.
But Moscow doesn’t exactly seem soothed by this new plan. “World states will hardly accept a situation in which nuclear weapons disappear, but weapons that are no less destabilizing emerge in the hands of certain members of the international community,” Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month.
When the idea of Prompt Global Strike was first proposed, the goal was to hit anywhere on the planet in under an hour. Old-school weapons had proved ineffective at catch terrorists on the move. Newer, quicker arms might be able to do the job, instead. Flight tests for some of those weapons — like a hypersonic cruise missile — are just getting underway. Until then, relying on conventional ICBMs to do the job, and risking a nuclear showdown, is just plain crazy.
UPDATE: Our pal Robert Farley raised these same concerns weeks ago, when the Nuclear Posture Review came out (and I was still on full-time daddy duty).
[Photo: Air Force]
See Also:

Tags: Air Force, Crazy Ivans, Global Strike, Missiles, Nukes, Strategery


Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/...z0m5Eyg4n2
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#4
Trillions for War and Weapons. Not a moment nor a dime for Peace....and they even spy upon and at times kill those who would make Peace and promote it....some 'World'. Stupid
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
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#5
Pentagon’s Mach 20 Glider Disappears, Whacking ‘Global Strike’ Plans


[Image: htv_2.jpg]The Pentagon’s controversial plan to hit terrorists half a planet away suffered a setback this weekend, after an experimental hypersonic glider disappeared over the Pacific Ocean.
In its first flight test. the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2) was supposed to be rocket-launched from California to the edge of space. Then the HTV-2 would could screaming back into the atmosphere, maneuvering at twenty times times the speed of sound before landing north of the Kwajalein Atoll, 30 minutes later and 4100 nautical miles away. Thinly wedge-shaped for better lift, equipped with autonomous navigation for more precision, and made of carbon-carbon to withstand the assault of hypersonic flight, the hope was it could fly farther and more accurately at a lower angle of attack than other craft returning to Earth.
At least, that was the idea. Instead, nine minutes after launch, Darpa researchers lost contact with the HTV-2. They’re still trying to figure out why. The agency says the flight test wasn’t a total bust: The craft deployed from its rocket booster, performed some maneuvers in the air, and “achieved controlled flight within the atmosphere at over Mach 20,” Darpa spokesperson Johanna Jones says.
But it’s bad news for the Pentagon “prompt global strike” program — a burgeoning and hotly-debated effort to almost-instantly attack targets thousands of miles away. The Defense Department is pursuing three different families of technologies to accomplish the task. One is to re-arm nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. But that runs the risk of accidentally triggering a response from another atomic power, who might mistake it for a nuke. A second effort is to build shorter-range cruise missiles than can fly at five or six times the speed of sound; that effort hit some recent turbulence when flight tests for the X-51 Waverider, scheduled for December 2009, were pushed until May 2010. Something like an armed version of the HTV-2 is the third choice.
“There’s always a concern that a conventional warhead on an ICBM might be confused with a nuclear device - what can you do to prove otherwise?” Dr. Mark Lewis, the former chief scientist of the Air Force, tells Danger Room. ”With a high lift vehicle, your trajectory would be so different that no one would likely confuse it with something more sinister.”
Brian Weeden, a technology advisor for the Secure World Foundation, agrees. “This thing itself is not a weapon. But it’s designed to lead to a precision strike weapon,” he says.
But the first step is to figure out what went wrong over the Pacific. Darpa says its investigation is ongoing.
See Also:


Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/...z0mY6GBy77
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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#6
Ed Jewett Wrote:”With a high lift vehicle, your trajectory would be so different that no one would likely confuse it with something more sinister.”
Brian Weeden, a technology advisor for the Secure World Foundation, agrees. “This thing itself is not a weapon. But it’s designed to lead to a precision strike weapon,” he says.
[url=http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/pentagons-mach-20-glider-disappears-whacking-global-strike-plans/#ixzz0mY6GBy77][/url]
But then, of course, a nuke might be attached to it as well, rendering the whole point moot.
The most relevant literature regarding what happened since September 11, 2001 is George Orwell's "1984".
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#7
Sunday, May 9, 2010

'Black World' Space Shuttle: Air Force Raises the Stakes for a New Arms Race


It's not as if things aren't bad enough right here on planet earth.

What with multiple wars and occupations, an accelerating economic meltdown, corporate malfeasance and environmental catastrophes such as the petroleum-fueled apocalypse in the Gulf of Mexico, I'd say we have a full plate already.

Now the Defense Department wants to up the stakes with new, destabilizing weapons systems that will transform low- and high-earth orbit into another "battlespace," pouring billions into programs to achieve what Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) has long dreamed of: "space dominance."

Indeed, Pentagon space warriors fully intend to field a robust anti-satellite (ASAT) capability that can disable, damage or destroy the satellites of other nations, all for "defensive" purposes, mind you.

Back in 2005, The New York Times reported that General Lance W. Lord, then commander of AFSPC, told an Air Force conference that "space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny. ... Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future."

Five years on, that "mission" is still a top priority for the Obama administration. While some might call it "net-centric warfare" on steroids, I'd choose another word: madness.

Air Force X-37B

On April 22, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) successfully launched its robot space shuttle, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Sitting atop a Lockheed Martin Atlas V rocket, the unmanned, reusable space plane roared into orbit after more than ten years of development by Boeing Corporation's "Phantom Works" black projects shop.

The successful orbital insertion of the X-37B was the culmination of a decades' long dream by the Department of Defense: to field a reusable spacecraft that combines an airplane's agility with the means to travel at 5 miles per second in orbit.

From the Pentagon's point of view, a craft such as the X-37B may be the harbinger of things to come: a johnny-on-the-spot weapons platform to take out the satellite assets of an enemy de jour, or as a launch vehicle that can deliver bombs, missiles or kinetic weapons anywhere on earth in less than two hours; what Air Force wags refer to as "operationally responsive space."

Prior to launch, Air Force Deputy Undersecretary of Space Programs, Gary Payton, ridiculed speculation that the X-37B is the prototype for a new space-based weapons system. Payton told reporters, "I don't know how this could be called a weaponization of space. Fundamentally, it's just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space."

Needless to say, such denials should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

The highly-classified program has a checkered history. According to GlobalSecurity.org, the project is envisaged as a "reusable space architecture" that would provide "aircraft-like operability, flexibility, and responsiveness, supporting AF Space Command mission areas."

While early examples such as the Dyna-Soar/X-20 program of the 1950s-1960s never panned out due to technological constraints, the Air Force never stopped trying. Programs such as the X-40 Space Maneuver Vehicle (SMV) and the X-41 Common Air Vehicle (CAV), a hypersonic craft intended to serve as a key component in developing the off-again, on-again "Prompt Global Strike" project, demonstrate continuing Air Force interest in "high frontier" weapons programs.

The X-40 project eventually merged with the Air Force's X-37B program and the X-41 CAV program has been absorbed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle (HTV-2).

Last month, the first test of the Falcon (apparently) ended in failure when DARPA researchers claimed they had lost contact with the craft moments after take-off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. The Falcon was supposed to demonstrate the feasibility of launching a vehicle to the edge of space and then have it come "screaming back into the atmosphere, maneuvering at twenty times the speed of sound before landing north of the Kwajalein Atoll, 30 minutes later and 4100 nautical miles away," according to Wired.

Did the HTV-2 mission fail? Since misdirection and disinformation have long been staples of Pentagon black world projects, most likely we'll never know one way or the other.

Inevitably, even if these projects amount to no more than monumental failures, their intended target audience, China, Russia or any other nation viewed as a "rogue state" by the imperialist hyperpower, in all likelihood would be drawn in to an expensive, and deadly, contest to devise countermeasures.

In this light, Space.com reporter Jeremy Hsu wrote May 5, that ambiguities in devising militarized space technology "can make it tricky for nations to gauge the purpose or intentions behind new prototypes." And such uncertainties are precisely the fodder that fuel an arms race.

According to GlobalSecurity.org's John Pike, the U.S. military "could even be using the cloak of mystery to deliberately bamboozle and confuse rival militaries." Pike told Space.com that "the X-37B and HTV-2 projects could represent the tip of a space weapons program hidden within the Pentagon's secret 'black budget,' or they might be nothing more than smoke and mirrors."

Pike said that current work "leaves plenty of room for misinterpretation or even outright deception, which could be a ploy to distract other nations with military space projects."

"'One of them could be a deception program and the other could be the spitting image of the real thing,' Pike noted. He said that such misdirection could force other nations' militaries to waste money chasing down dead ends."

While Pike's assertions sound plausible, given the Pentagon's track record and an annual $50 billion black budget directed towards research on new weapons and surveillance systems, the X-37B, the Falcon HTV-2 or other systems on the drawing board would certainly be useful assets if the military chose to deploy them as offensive weapons.

A Space Bomber?

Less ambitious perhaps, but potentially more destabilizing than unproven hypersonic technology, the X-37B was originally designed by Boeing for NASA in 1999 as an emergency escape vehicle for the International Space Station.

The civilian agency once viewed the craft as a potential lifeboat that could rescue stranded astronauts from the ISS. However, with Russia's Soyuz space capsule doing yeoman's work for just such a contingency, NASA no longer saw the need for an expensive winged re-entry vehicle and dropped the program.

But, as with all things having to do with the Military-Industrial Complex's insatiable appetite for new weapons, DARPA, the Pentagon's "blue sky" geek shop, picked up the slack in 2004 when NASA headed towards the exit.

After further testing and design enhancements by DARPA, the project was handed off to the Air Force in 2006. The program is now run by the USAF's secretive Rapid Capabilities Office (RCO) and spokespeople there have been tight lipped, refusing to say how much the vehicle costs; a sure sign that funds for the robot shuttle come from the black side of the budget where new weapons systems spawn and metastasize.

A tip-off to the covert nature--and militaristic intentions--of the program, comes from the office running the show. According to an Air Force Fact Sheet, the RCO "responds to Combat Air Force and combatant command requirements" and "expedites development and fielding of select Department of Defense combat support and weapon systems by leveraging defense-wide technology development efforts and existing operational capabilities."

According to investigative journalist Sharon Weinberger, the author of Imaginary Weapons and A Nuclear Family Vacation, her recent piece in Popular Mechanics, revealed that prior to the Pentagon assuming ownership of the X-37 project, "the spacecraft was regarded as just another experimental prototype." Today however, Weinberger wrote, "Air Force officials are skittish to mention even the smallest details."

When Air Force chief scientist Werner J.A. Dahm was asked by Weinberger "what he could say about the X-37B," he replied, "'Nothing very useful,' before quickly changing the subject."

In a 2006 piece in Air Force Print News (AFPN) however, we were informed that the X-37B will "will serve as a test platform for satellites and other space technologies. The vehicle allows satellite sensors, subsystems, components and associated technology to be transported into the environment where they will be used--space."

With information scarce on what the OTV's current mission is, the Air Force has said that after the first few flights (a second test in slated for 2011), "you get into the realm of using it as a reusable space test platform--putting space components into its experimental bay and taking them to space for testing," RCO's X-37B program manager Lt. Col. Kevin Walker told AFPN.

While the Air Force has denied that the X-37B is the vanguard for a space-based system to be deployed for spying or as an orbital weapons' delivery platform, and while this may be technically accurate in so far as the mini-shuttle is a prototype, the vagaries of the project raise intriguing questions.

This is borne out by an April 22 announcement by the 45th Space Wing Public Affairs office at Patrick Air Force base. Deputy Undersecretary Payton said "if these technologies on the vehicle prove to be as good as we estimate, it will make our access to space more responsive, perhaps cheaper, and push us in the vector toward being able to react to warfighter needs more quickly."

This was seconded by Col. André Lovett, 45th Space Wing vice commander: "This launch helps ensure that our warfighters will be provided the capabilities they need in the future."

Nothing ambiguous in these statements as to how the USAF views the future role for the system, nor do they bear a relationship to Payton's earlier claim to reporters that the X-37B is "just an updated version of the space shuttle kinds of activities in space."

Weinberger notes that "the most daring job of a space plane, and the one least discussed, is the role of a bomber." According to Weinberger, the X-37B "could fly over targets within an hour of launch to release cone-shaped re-entry vehicles that would both protect and guide weapons through the atmosphere." Equally destabilizing, a craft such as the X-37B "could carry 1000- or 2000-pound re-entry vehicles armed with precision munitions like bunker-busting penetrators or small-diameter bombs, or simply use the explosive impact of kinetic rods cratering at hypersonic speeds to destroy targets."

Joan Johnson-Freese, a Professor of National Security Studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, told Space.com journalist Leonard David last month that "other countries" will likely view the X-37B "as another capability intended to assure the United States will be able to dominate access to and the use of space."

William Scott, coauthor of the militaristic novel Counterspace: The Next Hours of World War III, told David that a reusable space plane "could deliver small satellites having specific, limited roles to bridge critical capabilities gaps."

The former bureau chief for Aviation Week & Space Technology told David that amongst the most vital characteristics for fielding a weapons' platform such as the X-37B is surprise: "On the first orbit, a space plane could capture data, before the 'target' knew it was coming." Since a space plane could be "launched into any orbit, at any inclination, providing prompt 'eyes-on' of virtually any area of the world," unlike a satellite with known, predictable trajectories, it could also be used as a surveillance platform or even as a means to surreptitiously "kidnap" or disable an adversary's satellite.

Seconding Weinberger's assessment, Scott told Space.com that "ultimately, weapons could be delivered from a space plane in low Earth orbit." As noted above, these could come in the form of "precision" munitions or insane hypervelocity rod bundles, so called "Rods from God," tungsten projectiles lobbed from space at 36,000 feet per second that can "hit a cross-haired target on the ground."

"I did a story about the rods concept in 1994 or 1995, based on concepts being discussed in the U.S. Air Force at the time," Scott said. "Fifteen years later, maybe they're ready for testing."

This view is shared by Everett Dolman, a professor of Comparative Military Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies at the Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

"Regardless of its original intent, Dolman told Space.com, "the most obvious and formidable is in service as a space fighter--a remotely piloted craft capable of disabling multiple satellites in orbit on a single mission and staying on orbit for months to engage newly orbited platforms." A project such as the X-37B, more advanced systems still on the drawing-board or in development in any number of Air Force black sites such as Groom Lake (Area 51) "would be a tremendous tactical advantage," Dolman said.

Even were the system not to be transformed into a space bomber, Dolman theorized that the X-37B could be maneuvered close to an adversary's satellite and capture details in the form of signals intelligence. "With the anticipated increase in networked-microsatellites in the next few years, such a platform might be the best--and only--means of collecting technical intelligence in space."

While the system may evolve into a destabilizing new weapon, Dolman said that "all of the information leaked about the X-37B suggests its primary function will be as a test platform, but a test platform for what?"

Regardless of how the X-37B prototype pans out, we can be certain that as the U.S. imperialist empire continues its long trek on the road towards failed statehood, the Pentagon, always eager to expend the blood and treasure of the American people on endless wars of conquest, will continue to build new and ever-more destabilizing weapons.
Posted by Antifascist at 9:56 AM
"Where is the intersection between the world's deep hunger and your deep gladness?"
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