Thu, Oct 14, 2010
Some Speculate That The Mini-Shuttle May Be About
After 173 days in orbit, and an unofficial cat-and-mouse game
with amateur sky watchers, the X-37B has dropped out of sight
again, and some say the Air Force is possibly about to land its
secret unmanned mini-shuttle.
The spacecraft, which had been tracked with a great deal of
pride by amateur astronomers worldwide, was missing from its
initial orbit for two weeks back in July. It was discovered by a
South African in a different orbit, which led to a great deal of
speculation about its maneuverability in space.
Fox News reports that the Internet is now buzzing with
speculation that a landing is eminent, and that its last known
orbit would have put it "very close to Vandenberg AFB," according
to a posting on "militaryphotos.net."
The spacecraft is designed to be on orbit for up to 270 days,
drawing power from solar arrays, but when it was launched in April,
the official Air Force line from spokesman Gary Payton was "we
don't know when it's coming back." There was also concern about the
re-useability of the spacecraft after a long stay on orbit.
Pentagon sources indicate that a second X-37B is already in the
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