VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The U.S. Air Force’s first
unmanned re-entry spacecraft landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base at
1:16 a.m. PST today.
The X-37B, named Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1), conducted on-orbit
experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. It fired
its orbital maneuver engine in low-earth orbit to perform an
autonomous reentry before landing.
The X-37B is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft. Managed
by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (AFRCO), the X-37B program
performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations
development for reusable space vehicle technologies.
“Today’s landing culminates a successful mission based on close
teamwork between the 30th Space Wing, Boeing and the Air Force Rapid
Capabilities Office,” said Lt Col Troy Giese, X-37B program manager
from the AFRCO. “We are very pleased that the program completed all
the on-orbit objectives for the first mission.”
OTV-1’s de-orbit and landing mark the transition from the on-orbit
demonstration phase to a refurbishment phase for the program.
The Air Force is preparing to launch the next X-37B, OTV-2, in Spring
2011 aboard an Atlas V booster.
I wonder if the X-37B has enough delta V to make it to the ISS? If it did then there might be hope for more re-supply missions that don’t rely on the Russian Progress launches.