Secret X-37B Mini Space Shuttle Lands

The X-37B mini space shuttle made a stealth landing during the early morning hours, landing at Vandenberg Air Force base at 1:16 a.m. PDT (0916 GMT) today (Friday, Dec. 3.) The US Air Force’s first unmanned space plane successfully glided to a landing after nearly 225 days in space.

X-37B program manager Lt Col Troy Giese stated moments after landing, “We are very pleased that the program completed all the on-orbit objectives for the first mission.”

Above is an infrared camera view of the space plane taxiing after landing this morning.

The space plane’s exact mission was not divulged, and the Air Force did not immediately report anything about the performance of the spacecraft or if any issues arose.

The X-37B’s mission is to “demonstrate a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the United States Air Force,” according to a fact sheet put out by the military. “Objectives of the OTV program include space experimentation, risk reduction and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.”


Source: Space Launch News

3 Replies to “Secret X-37B Mini Space Shuttle Lands”

  1. One question: why did they use a fairing for the X37B’s launch? I guess the aerodynamic drag from this fairing is greater that without it (the cross section is much larger); also, there was no danger of foreign object to hit the craft during launch (as in the case of Columbia).

  2. Wonder if this is going to be a vehicle for expanding the Robonaut 2 etc. program. In fact, why not fully develop Robonaut to build supportive structures and configure such structures for human inhabitats prior to trips to the moon and mars? No need for food and oxygen consumables nor would there be a need for a great deal of space. IBM is well on its way toward developing a photonic/silicon hybrid processor that will have near supercomputer capabilities within 5 years or so while consuming very little power (approx 1.5v). Robonaut is an excellent robot since it is dexterous and can be fitted to walk. AND a one-way trip to Mars for a crew of these would be much less expensive than even one human. This plane’s success is truly stunning! Congratulations USAF!! Well done!

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