With the Space Shuttle program now closed, NASA’s new X-37B, an unmanned space drone is making headlines of a sort as it has now returned after almost 2 years in outer space.
The mission was military and lasted about 22 months. The third of space drone launches as well as the longest mission for the ship since their inception via the United Launch Alliance and Boeing and Lockheed Martin companies.
The X-37B is unique in that it is launched into space using another rocket but can navigate and land on its own. Its missions are classified and military in design and administration.
Now that the craft has landed it will be taken to Florida and sent to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. This placement of the craft is in agreement between the Air Force and NASA. There it will be housed in the Orbiter Processing Facility in preparation for its next flight.
The director of the Kennedy Center stated that the space center is setting up for the future transitioning to a full multi-user launch facility that will cover commercial and government customers.
After some upgrades and maintenance the X-37B is due to launch back into space in December 2014.
With the upgrading and re-engineering of the Kennedy Space Center for the expansion to handle even more space flight venues, it looks like it will become the Starfleet Headquarters after the fictional place in the Star Trek movies. New technologies and materials are being tested and implemented by NASA and its contractors and the public doesn’t know of all of them as many are classified. The space program has lost a good deal of public interest with no high flying profile missions and with a defunct Space Shuttle program NASA is reaching out to include the public.
NASA has employed a number of public relations tactics such as posting pictures of the Sun that looks like a Jack O’ Lantern and allowing people to put their names on microchips that are sent into space. The X-37B missions are so top secret only speculation remains as to what the craft’s goals will glean. With the preparations however for more commercial flights and missions, the public might get their interest piqued again making space flight lucrative and popular.