The Next Generation of Space Vehicles – X-37B
With President Obama reportedly scaling back some of NASA’s more ambitious plans I was interested to read reports that a new generation of unmanned space vehicles is already in production for the US Air Force (USAF). For some time rumours have swirled around so-called “top secret” space planes or space bombers and there is no doubt that America’s rivals will be taking a keen interest in such stories.
The space shuttle programme is nearing its end and there is no obvious similar successor in the pipeline to service the International Space Station. The US however, has a long record of developing futuristic aircraft in secret and maintaining that secret for considerable periods of time. The stealth fighter (F117) and stealth bomber (B-2) were examples of this. It is therefore perfectly possibly that a range of new space and air vehicles are currently in development.
The reports of the X-37 project suggest that it is unmanned and capable of acting as a substitute for the space shuttle as well as carrying various weapons systems into space. Now run by the USAF it has developed into the X-37B and a test flight blast off from Cape Canaveral at the end of last month. Details of the mission and the fit of the X-37B remain classified but I would be interested to hear from any reader who can provide links to other up to date information on developing new generation space vehicles.