Military’s Secret X-37B Robotic Space Shuttle Returns to Earth

The US Military’s secret unmanned mini space shuttle returned to earth on Friday.

Originally a NASA project, the X-37B became the military’s secret unmanned space shuttle in 2004. When the X-37B launched last April, no one knew what was really going on. Foreign media saw the launch as a signal of space militarization. Officials say the spacecraft is undergoing testing.

X-37B Unmanned Space Shuttle Lands

X-37B Unmanned Space Shuttle Lands

Here is a video of the launch on April 22, 2010:

With the spacecraft on the ground, what is next? Another X-37 will be completed and tested by 2011. However, these mini-shuttles cannot fill the void of NASA’s now vanishing shuttle program. The X-37B can only carry less than 1% of the payload the significantly larger Space Shuttles can, ruling out the military using this to do any heavy lifting in space.

X-37 before its launch, don't be fooled. It is only slight larger then a pick-up truck.

X-37 before its launch, don't be fooled. It is only slight larger then a pick-up truck.

It would be interesting to see this platform used a robotic rescue platform. Launch the X-37 with an advanced robot on-board, capable of repairing or upgrading defunct satellites, sending supplies to space stations, and other tasks a smaller ship might be good at.

5 responses to “Military’s Secret X-37B Robotic Space Shuttle Returns to Earth”

  1. harry

    they could assemble a spacecraft. bit by bit. lol

  2. adamcpennington

    Are those two dudes suits made of white duct tape? This gives me an idea for Halloween. Hope they don’t think I’m a klan member that never learned geometry.

  3. Living Paradox @thesae

    It’s astounding to read that the shuttle in the image is no larger than a pick up truck, considering its task is carrying a significant percentage of the supplies needed. It states above that it can only handle “1% of the payload the significantly larger Space Shuttles can”, making it relatively useless in terms of efficiency. Is it really profitable to make these mini-shuttles? What are their purpose?

  4. kneeknow

    It sounds astoundingly inefficient in terms of payload carrying capacity. Given it’s high level of automation and advanced computing capabilities, testing such spacecraft could only mean it’s being prepared for long term operation. The militarys involvement could only mean it’s being modified as a ‘defence’ weapon and as such is clearly their idea of the first step toward space domination

  5. newsmoves

    wonder what ever happened with this program?

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