Wednesday, June 3, 2009

USAF X-37 Project to Fly Next Year


The joint U.S. Air Force and Boeing project known as the X-37B - the unpiloted military space plane, is gearing up for its first flight in January 2010.

It will be launched on top of a Atlas V Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) from Cape Canaveral, Florida.  Orbit the Earth, then make a auto-pilot landing in California.

The X-37B had its beginings in July 1999 with the Boeing Phantom Works.  In 2002, NASA awarded Boeing a $301 million doalr contract to develope the X-37 flight vehicle. It is a 27.5 feet long and 15 foot wingspan, and weighs five tons. 

The RE-USABLE space plane is a testbed for dozens of technologies in airframe, propulsion, and operation.

Quoting from that article, "Potential new commercial and military reusable space vehicle market applications for these technologies range from on-orbit satellite repair to the next-generation of totally resuable launch vehciles" source is past Boeing-issued briefing material.

My question to the reading public is this... Why not scale this up for manned space operations?  Used the Jupiter Booster design or even the Aries V as the primary booster?
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Ref. Space.com June 02, 2009, "U.S. Air Force Aims to Launch Space Plane Next Year" by Leonard David. (http://www.space.com/news/090602-x-37b-space-plane.html)

1 comment:

Naveed said...

Didn't they originally have something similar planned to replace the Shuttle before they decided to downgrade? Seems kind of fishy to me that the military gets to keep playing with it, but NASA doesn't.