thisisauniqueid, could you ping my email address? Thanks.
Basically it's a two-bit finite state machine and a pair of lookup tables.
"Can you list all the 16 countries of which her majesty is the queen?"
True story: An elderly gentleman walked into an electronics store in Toronto looking to buy speakers. The salesman showed him a couple of different models. The customer pointed at another set on the shelves and asked about them. The salesman said "Oh, those are Bose, they're crap." The customer was Amar Bose.
Sorry, your facts are reversed. NASA's budget is $17 billion. China's space budget is $1.3 billion. Russia's space budget is $2.4 billion.
For eight times the money, the US manages to reach approximate parity with the Russians. This is the result of the badly designed Space Shuttle program which over its lifetime has cost $1.5 billion per launch.
Looking forward, SpaceX is on track to cut US launch costs by a factor of ten. That will make the US the #1 place to launch rockets -- for the first time since the 1970s.
Here's what the predecessor of the iPad looked like, it was called the PADD:
Rectangular with rounded corners.
I agree completely that the X-37 makes no apparent sense. The only argument I can come up with is that returning is just a nice side effect of its real purpose: inclination changes. Chaning altitude and period and phase is all relatively easy with onboard thrusters (and X-37 has an orbital maneuvering engine almost as big as the Space Shuttle's). But the amount of thurst needed to change oribal inclination from, say equatorial to ISS, is vast. I calculated it recently as being equivalent to the delta-v provided by an earth to LEO launch.
What X-37 might be capable of is dipping into the atmosphere, banking, then thrusting back up to orbit. That's exactly what the Air Force's previous space plane was designed to do, the Dyna-soar. Once one has this capability, returning from orbit to a runway landing is a freebie since you already have the wings.
The recently concluded X-37 test flight did not show an inclination change. But look for it on a future flight. This would allow extreme flexability in imaging enemy action at completely unpredictable times.
Fortunately this is no longer much of an issue. As a result of the Apollo 1 fire and the deaths of Grissom, White and Chaffee, American spacecraft (starting with the Space Shuttle) adopted the Soviet approach.
Link to Original Source
Link to Original Source
a) Sit back and get slaughtered.
b) Fire back and take out the aggressors.
One consideration is the size of the forces involved. Another consideration is the importance of the missions each side is involved in.
Making a robot handle these cases would be interesting.