Experimental apparatus of cosmic drone, which resembles a South American space shuttle design in miniature, on Saturday landed safely at the Baikonur military base «Vandenber» in the South American state of California, reported the online edition of Spaceflight Now.
Drone X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle 2 (OTV-2) was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida March 5, 2011 using a booster Atlas 5. During this period, the unit spent in Earth orbit 468 days and 13 hours, circled around Earth more than 7 thousand times.
First X-37B (OTV-1) was launched into space in the spring of 2010 and returned to the ground in December, after 270 days in orbit.
«As with OTV-1 landing apparatus will be investigated and it will be repaired. Conclusions gained from this mission will be considered in preparation for the next mission, «- said spokeswoman Tracy Bunko USAF.
According to the Associated Press, the UAV will serve as a platform for testing detectors and satellite systems. According to official reports, while working with the second unit X-37B will be considered the experience of the previous mission. Other details of the launch system, as the details of the mission are classified, the agency reports.
X-37B was built spices Boeing Phantom Works. It is clear that the development of the machine has been spent millions of dollars, but the overall price was not officially named.
How to read in March, the head of cosmic Command U.S. Air Force Gen. William Shelton, the unit «on orbit very well.» «His mission is successful, and we are very happy with it,» — said the commander, refused to provide other information about the task spaceplane and open data about the budget of the mission.
«There on the presupposition that to keep silent about it as possible longer … — said spec. — If you open budgets, sometimes made obnaroduete ability volumes technologies that have been incorporated into the program. «
X-37B was launched aboard a rocket «Atlas 5» from Cape Canaveral on March 5 last year. All information about the devices installed on board, including the contents of the cargo compartment, secret Pentagon. Initially it was assumed that the flight will last 9 months.
At the disposal of cosmic Command U.S. Air Force are two such apparatus. First X-37B space plane (UIA-1) made the flight in the past year, starting April 23 and landed on December 3. The entire flight and landing were in automatic mode and estimated professionals were only successful. The only glitch occurred during landing, when the burst tire 1st of landing gear wheels. On the second kosmoplane decided at 15% lower air pressure in the landing gear in order to avoid such an incident.
X-37B was designed by Boeing. He achieves 8.9 m in length, 2.9 m in height and take-off weight is about 5 tons. Swipe small triangular wings is 4.5 m unit is equipped with solar panels and, as stated in the Pentagon, is designed to fly at altitudes of 200 to 750 km. It was reported that the spaceplane is able to rapidly change the orbit and maneuver can do razvedzadachi, deliver small loads into space and be used in tests of experimental military equipment.
According to the views of some observers, in fact X-37B would be possible layout of the coming of cosmic enemy interceptor satellites. Also it is possible that he will be able to put air strikes from orbit. But the U.S. Defense Department said that the unit only just «a platform for testing new technologies.»
The program X-37B initially led by NASA, but later defected under the control units of the Pentagon research and development, and then to a secret unit of the U.S. Air Force.