The birth of quite possibly the ultimate orbital reconnaissance asset

-Posted by D.C. Worth, for Barbay (France/US)

VIDEO: Payton in April: [view]
This marks a first step toward Air Force deployment of a fully reusable, responsive space capability.
And not the boogie-man "menace" touted by nations using state medias to create their own fake "Wiki-Leak hoax" material. :D

X-37B Completes (her) 220-Day Mission: [read]
The [X-37B] 29-ft. long, 15-ft. span vehicle, was originally built for a NASA program; and was taken over by the Air Force which initially worked the program in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency....
X-37B weighs in at about 11,000 pounds and has a lovely wingspan of just over 14 feet across... Seen (below) in her early days:

Lessons learned from the secret project will be used for mission planning of the second Boeing-built X-37B, OTV-2, currently being prepared for launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., on an Atlas V in the March-April 2011 time period. #

Image credit: USAF (X-37B)

The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office (Afrco), which manages the X-37B program, says “OTV-1’s de-orbit and landing mark the transition from the on-orbit demonstration phase to a refurbishment phase,” but gives no indication when it will return to space. [read]

Photo: The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle in construction, at the Astrotech facility in Titusville, Fla... The X-37B is the U.S.'s newest and most advanced unmanned re-entry spacecraft.

In Other News...
U.S. SpaceX - Updates: #
Cape Canaveral, FL On December 8, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to re-enter a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit. SpaceX launched its Dragon spacecraft into orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket at 10:43 AM EST from Launch Complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. [IMAGES!]

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