Completed its first test flight of the unmanned spacecraft of the Air Force United States.
After spending seven months in orbit, the X-37B dropped offline, and then landed at a military base in Vandenberg, California.
It was the first in the history of the American space program re-entry and landing of the ship on "autopilot."
"We are very pleased that all the tasks set for the orbital part of the first mission," — said in a statement the project chief Lt. Col. Troy Jeezy.
Vandenberg Air Force Base representative Jeremy Eggers said that the expected return of X-37B in space in the spring of 2011.
Experimental reusable spaceplane built by Phantom Works, member company Boeing. He has wings and looks like a scaled-down U.S. shuttle orbiter.
According to some reports, the mass X-37B — about 5 tons, length — about 8.8 meters, wingspan — 4.6 meters.
Production company promised not to disclose the details of the flight and the curious addressed to the customer — the Office of the operational deployment of the U.S. Air Force.
This experiment, surrounded by secrecy, little is known.
In particular, the representative of the United States Air Force Angie Blair announced at the 26th National Space Symposium, the X-37B is designed for a wide range of experiments.
One of the objectives of its first flight, according to Blair, is to test technologies to produce spacecraft long life with the possibility of multiple autonomous takeoffs and landings.
Spaceplane, according to a U.S. Air Force, capable of flying for one to spend a relatively low-Earth orbit up to 270 days.
However, several features remain classified test apparatus, a program budget, and even locate the flight control center.
X-37B program initially led the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), but later it came under the leadership of a secret U.S. Air Force units.
Customer program and its total secrecy suggest that the launch of X-37B may be caused by a long-standing desire of the U.S. military to create a versatile maneuverable spacecraft quick response.
Now the spacecraft military are predominantly only carrying out reconnaissance and surveillance tasks, but the logic of the development of space military technology implies the emergence kosmoplanov capable of carrying weapons and strikes from space on ground targets.
Concern for Russia
American experts agree that testing X-37B could cause the concern of other countries who are interested in space exploration, including Russia and China.
Indeed, the beginning of the experiment caused serious concern of the Russian military.
Now, the U.S. Air Force from the Earth to the large space, in fact, will be able to perform their tasks.
General Anatoly Kornukov
"Washington does the program, which is planned by declaring the slogan:" Who owns space, owns the world, "- said in April the agency" Interfax ", former Russian Air Force Commander General of the Army Anatoly Kornukov.
"The U.S. has long realized that all of these forces must be in the same hands. Now, the U.S. Air Force from the Earth to the large space, in fact, will be able to perform their tasks. This means that they will be able in a short time to strike in the absence of proper counter "- said Kornukov.
Americans say that the secrecy of the program does not go beyond the usual in such cases, the rules and caused the experimental nature of the tests.
Several years ago, NASA has concluded that a reusable space shuttles are too complex and expensive, and returned to the development of spacecraft like Orion, capable of carrying no more than two or three flights.
In 2004, further development of the shuttles have been excluded from the budget of the U.S. space agency.