Infrastructure // PC & Servers
News
12/3/2010
11:38 AM
50%
50%

Air Force's Secret Space Plane Lands In California

The X-37B touched down at Vandenberg AFB amid speculation about the military's true intentions for the unmanned orbiter.

The U.S. Air Force's secrecy-enshrouded unmanned space plane glided to a successful landing in the pre-dawn darkness at a base about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The robotically controlled X-37B came to a halt on the runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base about 1:16 a.m. PST following seven months in space, according to Air Force officials. "We are very pleased that the program completed all the non-orbit objectives for the first mission," program manager Lt. Col. Troy Giese said, in a statement.

The Air Force has divulged scant information about its intentions for the X-37B, which it inherited from an earlier NASA program to develop reusable orbiting vehicles. Speculation over uses for the five-and-a-half ton spacecraft has ranged from an orbiting weapons platform to a hi-tech surveillance instrument.

For its part, the military is saying only that the X-37B, which is similar to a scaled down version of the space shuttle in appearance, will serve as "a reliable, reusable, unmanned space test platform for the U.S. Air Force."

According to the Air Force, the objectives for the X-37B program "include space experimentation, risk reduction and a concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies."

The Air Force's Rapid Capabilities Office is developing the X-37B in concert with private aerospace contractor Boeing. NASA first launched the program in 1999, then transferred it to DARPA in 2004.

The Air Force has said the X-37B, which launched April 22 from Florida's Cape Canaveral while strapped to an Atlas V rocket, will return to space for more tests next year.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.