Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Military Presence in Space: Air Force's Secret X-37 Shuttle Celebrating Silent Anniversary

The Air Force has been testing a mini-space shuttle in orbit for over a year, it isn't really a secret but the Military isn't talking much about it.
The robotic X-37B space plane is a reusable spacecraft that resembles a miniature space shuttle. The Air Force launched the OTV-2 mission on March 5, 2011, with an unmanned Atlas 5 rocket lofting the space plane into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
What the robotic space plane has been doing in orbit for so long remains a mystery, since Air Force officials have not commented on the flight's details due to its classified nature. Outside experts, however, have suggested that the flight is testing the limits of the X-37B space plane, or possibly serving as an orbital spy platform.
Each X-37B space plane is about 29 feet (8.8 meters) long and 15 feet (4.5 meters) wide. It has a payload bay about the size of a pickup truck bed. It is outfitted with a deployable solar array power system. What’s inside that payload bay, and what functions they serve, are classified.
Like NASA's now-retired space shuttle, the X-37B space planes are capable of returning experiments to Earth for inspection and analysis, as well as re-flight of equipment.
click image for complete story at Fox.com 
The X-37B space plane originated as a NASA spacecraft research project, but lack of funding led the agency to transfer the program to the Defense Advanced Research Agency in 2004. The Air Force took control of the project in 2006, and has launched two apparently successful missions so far.

No comments:

Post a Comment