X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (2009)
PRODUCTION RUN: 2010-2011
About the Design
For years, NASA and the U.S. military have known that the Space Shuttle's days were numbered. Among the concepts for replacement vehicles proposed is the X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), an unmanned reusable spaceplane developed by U.S. Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office. More than 29 feet long with a nearly 15-foot wingspan, the X-37B is designed to be boosted into space aboard an Atlas 5 rocket in the 501 configuration. After its mission, the craft glides back to earth and lands on a conventional airstrip much like the now-retired Space Shuttle.
Although the X-37B's payloads are classified, it's expected that it will carry any number of military payloads, including surveillance and communications satellites.
First tested aboard a Scaled Composite White Knight One air-launch vehicle in 2009, the X-37B made its first spaceflight in spring 2010.
About the Model