The Air Force’s Atlas 5 rocket has sent yet another of the X-37B mini-shuttles off on its maiden repeat flight earlier today, which would possibly mark the beginning of a months-long classified mission that is said to facilitate the testing of advanced spy satellite sensors. This launch occurred at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station slightly after 1 p.m. ET, and to much fanfare. After all, the X-37B is roughly one quarter the size of the actual space shuttle, and is capable of orbiting the earth for months on end before re-entering the atmosphere and landing autonomously.
The first two X-37B missions saw the mini-shuttle land successfully on a runway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, where both of the X-37Bs flown were different, but this is the first time the 29-foot-long craft has been reflown in space. I guess being reusable would be theX-37B’s biggest selling points, as we all jolly well know that space programs are never cheap to begin with.