Saturday, December 04, 2010

And the X-37B is home

The Air Force has successfully brought back its uncrewed X-37B mini-spaceplane to a safe runway landing. There are endless speculations on what experiments were on board, but aside from that, the implications for space exploration and commerce are important. The Air Force orbited the winged craft, put it through major changes of orbit, kept it up for over seven months, and then brought it back for re-use, demonstrating advanced autonomous operations, thermal protection, and a host of other things.
COMMENT: First, as a space geek, this is really, really cool. The many spaceplane concepts conceived and abandoned in the last few decades look a lot more practical for the near future. Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists (which is actually open to anybody) is once again claiming the US is getting ready for space war. The evidence for that? Umm, there isn't any. And there is NO advance in orbital rendezvous, repair, or operations the UCS would NOT claim was evidence of space war preparations, so I think we should all agree to ignore them on this topic.

No comments: