Air Force’s Mysterious Mini-Space Shuttle Set to Land

Jun 12, 2012 8:05pm
ht mini space shuttle nt 120613 wblog Air Forces Mysterious Mini Space Shuttle Set to Land

Air Force

After more than a year in orbit the  Air Force’s mysterious mini-space shuttle is set to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California sometime this week.  Air Force officials say a landing could come as early as Wednesday.

Measuring 29 feet in length and having a 15-foot wingspan, the unmanned re-usable X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle looks like a miniature version of  NASA’s now retired space shuttles.

The reusable spacecraft went into orbit on March 5, 2011, but as was the case during its first launch in 2010, very little has been known about its mission or what payloads it might be carrying because its missions are classified.  That has led to speculation that the spacecraft is involved in intelligence gathering operations or the testing of new technologies.

Jeremy Eggers, a spokesman for the 30th Space Wing  at Vandenberg AFB told ABC News that the spacecraft’s first available landing opportunity will be Wednesday, depending on weather and technical conditions.   The landing window extends through June 18, but Eggers says any landing is a “day-by-day situation based on the conditions.”

In keeping with the scarce mission details for the X-37B even the initial announcement of an upcoming landing was kept vague.    A May 30 Air Force statement said the spacecraft would return to earth in the “early- to mid-June time frame.”

Designed to stay in extended Earth orbits, the X-37B remained in orbit for 225 days during its maiden mission in 2010. It will have spent almost twice as much time in orbit this time around.

 

 

 

SHOWS:
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus