Saturday, April 24, 2010

USAF launched unmanned "shuttle"

Surprisingly, the USAF has actually held the first launch of their robotic shuttle, the X-37B. When the NASA Space Shuttle program retires later this year, this will be the only launch-and-return vehicle in the entire US space inventory...and it's unmanned, and really a mini-shuttle, being only about 16 feet wide.

But, it's an interesting idea and darn well worth pursuing. Without a manned crew, both endurance, safety, and payload are improved. Undoubtedly the X-37B will carry classified USAF surveillance and detection equipment...and perhaps more, maybe real scientific experiments...but the important thing is it can return to Earth.

Will be fascinating to watch this vehicle, which is now aloft, and see how this first flight goes.

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