After NASA shut down the space shuttle program, the U.S. was left with no re-usable spacecraft. We have plenty of rockets, but nothing quite as useful as the shuttles.
Evidently, the military felt the same way. The Air Force has been working on the X-37B un-manned spacecraft for almost a decade since it was turned over to them in 2004 by NASA. The X-37B is the smallest space plane launched to date.
It is 1/20th the scale of its big brother the Boeing X-40A and its purpose isn’t known.
The spacecraft has spent an incredible 674 days in orbit and has recently landed.
The Air Force has acknowledged plans to build the X-37C which would be capable of carrying 6 crew to orbit. Perhaps this is a competitor to the commercial ventures trying to get those contracts. Who knows. But two years in space seems to be a really excessive trial run for a space ferry. Just sayin. But it would be nice to have a shuttle program again.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +