06 Apr 2010
For more than 10 years, the Air Force has been quietly working on the development of a robotic spacecraft called the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (pictured), which resembles a small space shuttle. And, this month, it will officially be launched into space. Very cool stuff, but many are asking: what is the purpose of this robotic spacecraft and this first mission? The Air Force released only a general description of the mission objectives: testing of guidance, navigation, control, thermal protection and autonomous operation in orbit, re-entry and landing. And, many believe that it’s purpose is unclear because it has taken a decade to ready it for launch, and there were too many “cooks in the kitchen” when it came to developing it. Peter A. Wilson, a senior defense research analyst for the RAND Corp., had this to say to the AP: “From my perspective it’s a little puzzling as to whether this is the beginning of a program or the end of one.” Read more from the AP here.