Unmanned space vehicle from Boeing completes first flightNews
June 19, 2012
VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The second X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) completed its first flight for the U.S. Air Force?s Rapid Capabilities Office. The experimental test mission lasted 469 days.
The Air Force X-37B program’s goal is to demonstrate a reliable, reusable unmanned space test platform. Its objectives include risk reduction, space experimentation, and concept-of-operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies that for future space missions.
The first OTV-1 proved that unmanned space vehicles not only can be sent into orbit but be safely recovered as well, says Paul Rusnock, vice president of Government Space Systems at Boeing. OTV-2 extended the 220-day mission duration of the first vehicle and tested additional capabilities. The next launch of OTV-1 will be later this year, he adds.
OTV-1 was the first unmanned vehicle from the U.S. to return from space and land on its own. Until now, the space shuttle was the only space vehicle that could return to Earth and be reused.